Previously School of Library & Information Studies
Seminar: Information Access.
("The Friday Afternoon Seminar")
Summaries - Spring 2008.
Fridays 3-5. 107 South Hall.
Summaries will be added as they become available.
Friday, Jan 25: First Meeting of the semester.
Clifford LYNCH: Introduction.
Prospects for Institutional Repositories, 5 Years On.
Introduction to Seminar.
Prospects for Institutional Repositories, 5 Years On.
In 2003, I wrote an article arguing for the role of institutional (and
disciplinary) repositories as essential infrastructure for scholarship
in the digital age. At that time, actual deployment and operational
experience with such repositories was quite limited. Since then, several
different views of repositories have crystalized, and a great deal of
experience has been gained. Some institutions have begun to mandate the
use of repositories by faculty, and more recently funders have begun to
introduce such mandates, though often involving disciplinary rather than
institutional repositories. In this presentation and discussion I'll
outline these different viewpoints about the role of repositories,
review developments and experience and discuss what I believe are the
prospects and critical barriers to progess for repositories.
Feb 1: Clifford LYNCH: Repositories and Workflows.
In this presentation and discussion I will cover some
recent thinking about scientific and scholarly workflows, including
a workshop on the subject sponsored by the National Science Foundation
and the Mellon Foundation in late 2007. I'll then return to the subject
of institutional (and disciplinary) repositories, and complete last
week's exploration of these by looking at the question of how
repositories might appropriately connect to and fit within scientific
and scholarly workflows.
Feb 8: Eric KANSA: An Open Context for Archaeology.
The common use by archaeologists of ubiquitous technologies
such as computers and digital cameras means that archaeological research
projects now produce huge amounts of diverse, digital documentation.
However, while the technology is available to collect this documentation,
we still largely lack community accepted dissemination channels appropriate
for such torrents of data. Open Context
aims to help fill this gap by
providing open access data publication services for archaeology. Open
Context has a flexible and generalized technical architecture that can
accommodate most archaeological datasets, despite the lack of common
recording systems or other documentation standards. Open Context includes
a variety of tools to make data dissemination easier and more worthwhile.
Authorship is clearly identified through citation tools, a web-based
publication systems enables individuals upload their own data for review,
and collaboration is facilitated through easy download and other features.
While we have demonstrated a potentially valuable approach for data sharing,
we face significant challenges in scaling Open Context up for serving large
quantities of data from multiple projects.
This talk will explore future
work with commercial service providers, including Metaweb to expand these
efforts with a much more robust data sharing infrastructure.
Eric Kansa is the Executive Director of the School's
Information and Service Design Program
He has a background in anthropology, archaeology, and in open
access data sharing for the field sciences. He is cofounder and former
Executive Director of the Alexandria Archive Institute, and led development
of Open Context, an online system for sharing collections and field research
in archaeology and natural history. This follows a position on the faculty
of Harvard University, where he served as Lecturer and Undergraduate Tutor
for the Department of Anthropology. He graduated from the University of
California, San Diego with a BA in Cultural Anthropology and continued
his education at Harvard University beginning in 1995. There, he earned
his doctorate in 2001 and has focused research efforts on open dissemination
strategies, information architectures for the social sciences, and
intellectual property frameworks for online scholarship. Eric is currently
Convener of the Society for American Archaeology's Digital Data Interest Group.
Feb 15: Michael BUCKLAND, Ray LARSON, Ryan SHAW and Others:
Project Update: Providing Context for Learners.
The difference between seeing and understanding
is in knowing the context. Two closely related projects are developing
better ways to provide context. We will provide a progress report and
demonstrate an early version of a context-finding / context-building
interface being developed. The approach being adopted can provide a
basis for making the reference library a reality in the digital
Also, a preliminary "life-path" showing some of
Emma Goldman's lecture tour.
The two projects are:
- "Bringing Lives to Light: Biography in Context"
- "Context and Relationships: Ireland and Irish Studies"
Both build on the earlier project "Support for the
Learner: What, Where, When, and Who"
Feb 22: Bernt WAHL: The Structure of Location Based Information.
The talk will outline different ways location data can be expressed
using a dynamic location based knowledge repository. Here I will talk
about ideas in which location data can be held and called upon for
different needs. I also hope to show the demographic work that has
been done in terms of local mapping.
Also Clifford LYNCH: Reflections on Sharing
Authority, Storytelling, and Annotation.
I recently had the opportunity to attend part of a
conference titled "Sharing Authority", which dealt with topics such
as public history and oral history. After some comments on this
conference, I'll relate these issues to questions that I've been
grappling with about storytelling, annotation of public databases
of historical resources, and collective biography, some of which
I summarized last semester. Group discussion about research
opportunities and prior art here would be particularly welcome.
Feb 29: Paul DUGUID: Web 2.0: An Open and Shut Debate.
Web 2.0 would seem to represent an emancipatory move
from the old closed or bounded system of technologies, forms, and
institutions (the web page, the encyclopedia, the firm, the university)
to a more democratic open one (the wiki, wikipedia, wikinomics, open
content). A glance at the past suggests, however, that such struggles
are not entirely new, not, as some would have it, entirely the function
of new technologies, nor entirely linear. By looking at earlier
struggles over open or closed, we can not only understand the current
trajectory better, but also understand why it sometimes happens that
technologies, forms, and institutions that were once triumphantly
forced open in hard-fought battles nonetheless closed again.
Mar 7: Tapan PARIKH: Designing Appropriate Computing
Technologies for the Rural Developing World.
People living in the rural developing world have many
information needs that could, but are not, being met by information
technology. Technologies for this context must be low-cost,
accessible to diverse populations and appropriate for the local
infrastructure, including conditions of intermittent power and
In this talk, drawing from the results of an extended
design study conducted with microfinance group members in rural India
(many of whom were semi-literate or illiterate), I outline a set of
user interface design guidelines for accessibility to such users. The
results are used to motivate the design of CAM, a mobile phone
application toolkit including support for paper-based interaction;
multimedia input and output; and disconnected operation. Through
ekgaon technologies, a company that I co-founded, over 10,000
microfinance group members in India are now using CAM to maintain
their monthly records. In Mexico, we are conducting a pilot where
over 1,000 small coffee farmers will use CAM to document their
compliance with organic certification requirements. I will also
discuss some of the more recent directions I have been pursuing in
collaboration with my students - including building mobile tools to
improve the standard of health care delivery in sub-Saharan Africa,
and designing farmer-centric information systems linking farmers to
premium markets in South Asia.
Tapan PARIKH joined the faculty of the School of
Information this semester.
Mar 14: Michael BUCKLAND & Ryan SHAW:
How to make the Web more educational.
The quantity of educational and other resources on the
Web continues to increase very rapidly. Here we address the question of how
we could help people to learn more from resources that are already available or likely
to become so. We take "educational" to mean that we come to understand
something better -- and understanding requires knowing about context. But
that requires ways to find appropriate resources to establish what the
context is or was. Drawing on papers in preparation and our project on
"Contexts and Relationships"
I will discuss
this challenge using diverse but related lines of thought:
The essence of the Web has to do with making links, so what
kinds of links would most facilitate learning?;
the reference library has failed to make an effective transition from paper to a
digital environment (The emphasis has been more on empowering librarians
than on empowering library users); a division of vocabularies by facet (e.g. What, Where,
When and Who) has advantages, but the separation breaks down in interesting
ways when real world
topics are represented or described and when different genres of reference
resources are combined; and the role of spatial analogs in knowledge organization.
Mar 21: Review of the 2008 "i-School conference."
Join us for an informal report and discussion of the recent Third
"i-school conference" at UCLA
Find out what the problems, challenges and opportunities of schools like
ours are thought to be!
Also Thomas TUNSCH, National Museums in Berlin:
Cultural heritage: Tradition, Museums and Wikis.
Museums are institutional custodians of objects and information
about cultural heritage. Communication in the world of museums can be seen as
predominantly linear: from the research about objects or intangible heritage
to exhibitions and specific publications as well as from one generation of
museum professionals to the following one. These chains of communication are
sometimes isolated from each other but there are often points of contact
between them. In fact every exhibition with loans from different museums
provides chances of new information exchange. The Wiki technology supports
the development of information networks, because Wikis facilitate meaningful
linking, efficient discussion and organized collection of information.
Existing Wikis like Wikipedia and the MuseumsWiki
will be examined regarding the needs and resources of museums, museum
communities and museum professionals.
Mar 28: Spring break: No seminar meeting.
Apr 4: Roger SCHONFELD, Ithaka:
Organizing Information Infrastructure for Academia: Lessons from the
Community's Past and Questions about Our Future.
Questions of organizational design weigh heavily on our academic
community, where incentives sometimes misalign with community-wide
goals, yielding externalities. These misaligned incentives pose
challenges in the digital transition that is all around us in academia
today. This fundamental concern links together several issues we have
been working on recently, for example, in the dissemination of
scholarship; in storage and preservation of library resources; in access
to undergraduate education; and elsewhere. I plan to focus briefly on a
specific episode to organize shared library infrastructure in the 1950s
and use this as a jumping-off point to consider organizational issues
that we face, not only in the library realm but in other aspects of the
digital transition for higher education as well.
Roger Schonfeld is Manager of Research at Ithaka,
Apr 11: Bernd FROHMANN, Univ. of Western Ontario: A New Theory of
Documentation for Information Studies.
Documents have recently returned from their marginalized position in
information studies and in several other areas of the social sciences. In
this seminar I plan to give an overview of some of the topics I'm pursuing
in a grant-funded research project with the above title. I'll identify some
of the theoretical concepts that I have found useful for thinking about
documentation, extracted from
Wittgenstein, Latour, Foucault, and Deleuze. Examples are documentary
agency, authorless statements, assemblages, and documentality.
If time permits, I'll introduce some current work on the
documentality of the human body.
Apr 18: Michael BUCKLAND: Space, Place, and Position in Thinking about
Information and Information Systems;
A conference in Ghent next month will examine the lively
use of spatial imagery in early 20th century discussions of information
However, the use of space, place, and position in discourse about information
is very long-established, e.g. circles of knowledge ("encyclopedias");
trees to show hierarchy and/or genealogy; and cathedrals as mnemonic devices
("memory theater"). I will argue that the lively use of spatial analogies
in early 20th century documentation was a by-product of changes in
reprographics and that it both masks and reflects a more important
interest in machinic systems.
Also Clifford LYNCH: Review and Reflections on Some Recent Meetings.
April is full of meetings, and I've been to a lot of
them recently. I'll reflect on some of what I saw, heard, and said
at the CNI spring meeting, the 30th Anniversary Celebration for
UKOLN in London (I will explain what UKOLN is, and its role), and
Museums and the Web 2008, among other events. I'd welcome
participation and perspectives from others who attended one or
more of these events as well.
Apr 25: Rudi SCHMIEDE, Technical University, Darmstadt, Germany:
Informatization and Increased Demands on Knowledge and
Informatization and the increased role of knowledge in
modern processes of production or organization are often equalized or
seen as two successive stages of development as might be seen in the
usage of the terms "informations society" and "knowledge society". I want
to argue the thesis that the two relate to each other in a complex
relationship of complementarity and contradiction.
To do so I want to formulate a theoretically rich
concept of informatization which, on one hand, shows substantial
extensions of formalized processes and structures, but, on the other
hand, the parallel growth and re-birth of limits to this formalization;
for this reason permanent approaches to contextualize and re-contextualize
these formalization processes and its results by human knowledge are necessary.
This presupposes more flexible, often more demanding,
the subjective side of work and employment including forms of work
practice. In industrial sociology the debates on the enhanced role of
subjectivity in work (in German language the term "subjectification" was
coined to describe that), on the dimensions of flexibilization and the
erosion of boundaries between work and life reflect this tendency. New forms
of risk, new health dangers, the increase of what Sennett calls "drift",
but also new chances to shape reality and possibilities of freedom
result from this development.
Rudi Schmiede is Professor of Sociology at the
Darmstadt University of Technology and is
engaged in a variety of projects relating to society and ICT
through its Research group on Work, Technology, and Society
including: "(Web) Service Oriented Architectures and Organization,"
"Tacit Knowledge and its Implications for Knowledge Management," and
"Labor Flexibility and ICT."
May 2: Jenna BURRELL: Mobile Phones in Rural Uganda.
I'll be talking about the two directions my mobile phone research is taking
and about my plans for additional fieldwork this summer. The first is about
the moral economy of the mobile phone. This focuses on the mobile phone as
a gift, as a device for transferring money, and as a shared community
resource. I ask, how are the benefits of mobile phone access distributed in
rural communities? The second focus is on the concept of 'information' and
to what extent it translates between different languages and cultures. In
rural Uganda there was the possibility for new mobile phone services to
deliver everything from market prices to football scores. However, what
information was needed and under what circumstances it could be acted upon
are some key unanswered questions.
Also Ryan SHAW: Case Studies in Contextualizing Digital Resources: An Irish Studies
Digital Library and the Emma Goldman Lecture Tours.
I will present progress on two projects. The first is an experimental
interface to an Irish Studies Digital Library, which merges
fine-grained access to scanned texts, standoff annotation and linking,
and named entity web services to enable readers to relate any topic,
place, event or person mentioned in the texts to the best explanatory
resources available. The second is an web-based archive of materials
related to Emma Goldman's lecture tours, organized as a series of
linked events that can be viewed from various perspectives across
space and time.
May 9: Last meeting of semester: Bernt Ivar OLSEN, Tromso & UC Davis:
A Broad and Complementary Document Model and its Application within
Software- and Information Systems Engineering.
In the last decade or so, I have been fortunate to observe the discussion
about what is a document and what is documentation as a field of study. In
my talk I will try to focus on the question: what role can a
document(tation)-view of systems play in the design of systems and software?
I will take Niels Windfeld Lund's document model as the point of departure
and try to reflect on what relation it has to traditional design paradigms
and fields of study within the broad field of computer science.
Also Bernt WAHL: Final Progress Report: Localization of Search.
As search and location intelligence gains the capabilities to become
more localized, we will examine how these new capabilities will
potentially be utilized.
The Seminar will resume in the Fall semester.
Spring 2008 schedule.