School of Information
 Previously School of Library & Information Studies

 Friday Afternoon Seminar: Summaries.
  296a-1 Seminar: Information Access, Spring 2016.

Fridays 3-5. 107 South Hall. Schedule. Weekly mailing list.
South Hall 107, Fridays 3-5 pm
Summaries will be added as they become available.

Jan 22: Ron DAY, Indiana University: The Ends of Reason: Documents, Evidence, and Powers.
    In my talk I will outline a project that looks at the philosophy of what I call documentarity: documents as evidence of what is. I will examine reductionist representation in the 20th century documentalist Paul Otlet’s theoretical works, indexicality in Suzanne Briet’s works, and ethnographic representation in Georges Bataille’s works on documents. This is preliminary work on a larger work on documentarity and beings.
    Ron Day, Associate Professor of Information and Library Science, Indiana University, researches the philosophy, history, politics, and culture of information, documentation, knowledge, and communication in the 20th and 21st centuries in the U.S. and Western Europe and in the discipline of Library and Information Science. His writings include The modern invention of Information: Discourse, history, and power (2001) and Indexing it all: The subject in the age of documentation, information, and data (2014), which won the ASIST Book of the Year Award. More at

Jan 29: Lisa BÖRJESSON and Short Reports.
    Lisa BÖRJESSON, Uppsala: Knowledge makers muddling through: Conditions for documentation and report writing in extra-academic research.

    Knowledge making takes place in a variation of different organisational settings throughout society. Significant amounts of research is for example undertaken in commercial companies selling their research as a services. But what are the conditions for doing, documenting and reporting research in these settings? And how should we understand and integrate these increasingly available outcomes of extra-academic research with outcomes of research published traditionally? In this presentation I will talk about findings from a recent study of conditions for report writing in commercial archaeology, and discuss how users of reports can benefit from insights gained in this study.
    Lisa Börjesson is a third year Ph.D. student at Uppsala University in Sweden, and a former visiting student researcher at the UC Berkeley iSchool. Her research is part of the research project ARKDIS (Archaeological Information in the Digital Society). Besides her thesis, Lisa is currently working on an edited volume with the working title 'Research outside the academy: Professional knowledge-making in the public sector'.
    Also: Short Reports on current activities.

Feb 5: Wayne DE FREMERY, Sogang University, Korea. Bibliography and the Sociology of Data.
    In his Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts, D. F. McKenzie famously suggests that books are expressive forms: “sociology simply reminds us of the full range of social realities which the medium of print had to serve, . . .. [. . . and] the human motives and interactions which texts involve at every stage of their production, transmission, and consumption. It alerts us to the roles of institutions . . ..” I will outline a framework for a “sociology of data” by investigating data as expressive forms. What kinds of tools could document the human motives and interactions which data involve at every stage of their production, transmission, and consumption? How might the full range social realities which data serve be documented? How might we document data in ways that help us to understand the ways that institutions affect social discourse?
    In order to suggest more general approaches to each of these questions and how we might document the procedures and machines that present computer data to us, the talk will begin with a discussion of new software tools that discern valuable patterns in the systems used to encode digital versions of literary texts from early twentieth century Korea.
    Performances are documents. So theatrical performance may be a model for documenting the social realities that data serve. A book of Korean poetry as a digitally enacted theater experience will be discussed as one possible model for documenting the social realities that data serve.     Other forms of documents and documentary practice will be needed to document the sociology of data. Textual models printed using 3D printers will be discussed to think about how new documentary forms can illuminate how institutions affect social discourse.
    In the ubiquity and variety of its evidence, bibliography as a sociology of data will have an unrivalled power to resurrect those who have created data in their own time, and users of data at any time. By dealing with the facts of transmission and the material evidence of reception, the sociology of data can make discoveries as distinct from inventing meanings. In focusing on data as recorded forms, it defines a common point of departure for any historical or critical enterprise, humanistic or scientific. New readers/users of data make new data, and their new meanings are a function of their new forms.
    Wayne de Fremery is an assistant professor of Korean Studies, Sogang University, in Seoul, Korea. He has a background in Economics and is an award-winning book designer. His 2011 doctoral dissertation at Harvard, “How Poetry Mattered in 1920s Korea,” presents a bibliography and sociology of Korean poetic texts from the early twentieth century. More at and

Feb 12: Michael BUCKLAND: Relevance and Other Basic Problems.
    Relevance is the central evaluation criterion in information retrieval evaluation. Search and discovery services yielding relevant responses to queries now constitute an important industry. Indirectly (through bibliometrics) relevance indicators are increasingly the basis for academic evaluations. Yet, even though relevance has been considered a central concept in information science for fifty years and closely examined, there is still no satisfactory definition or explanation. Why is this? I will draw on recent seminar discussions to explore and try to explain this and other basic problems in understanding information.

Feb 19: Anna Lauren HOFFMANN: Information Justice Beyond Distributions: Exploring Social Justice, Information, and Access.
    In this talk, Anna will introduce some of the salient themes of her research and writing on ethics and social justice as it relates to information and, increasingly, data science today. She'll outline some normative challenges--both enduring and emergent--and frames for addressing them (especially informed by her background in Rawlsian political theory and its major critics), drawing on a range of applied examples--from Google Books to Tinder and beyond.
    Anna Lauren Hoffmann is a trans woman and scholar working at the intersections of information, technology, culture, and ethics. She is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the Berkeley School of Information, where she is currently teaching the Berkeley's first undergraduate course dedicated to data and ethics. Prior to her arrival in the Bay Area, she worked at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Information Studies, where she completed her PhD in Spring of 2014. Links to her work are available at

Feb 26: Jennifer SCHAFFNER: and Clifford LYNCH.
    Jennifer SCHAFFNER: Of Rare Books and Research Datasets: Survival, Adoption, Sale, and Abandonment of Unique Materials.

    Experts estimate that about 300 universities and colleges in the US alone will merge or close their doors in the next twenty years. What will become of their special collections, born-digital materials, and research datasets? This seminar will examine established procedures for re-appraisal, adoption, sale, and discard of rare books and archives. In special collections, these controversial transactions may ensure survival of socially important artifacts, when they must change hands. At the same time, we would like to discuss what elements of these practices, guidelines, business models, and legal contracts from special collections could be repurposed for transitions of digital stewardship, which are due to the burgeoning need to appraise, deaccession, preserve, and find a good home for culturally significant and unique digital materials.
    Jennifer Schaffner’s most recent position was working with international alliances of librarians at OCLC Research, the “think tank” of a non-profit library cooperative and vendor. Previously, Jen was a librarian and archivist at Stanford, the New York Public Library, Princeton, the California Historical Society, and UCLA.
    Clifford LYNCH: Stewardship Transitions as an Organizing Structure.
    The transfer of stewardship responsibilities, from creators to stewards, or from steward to steward (involving markets, collectors, and stewardship institutions) represent a crucial structure in the management of the broad cultural and scholarly record. This structure is very complex and multi-faceted, and has not been well studied in a systematic fashion. It's also clear that it's changing rapidly due to pressures and stresses that include the extensive restructuring of the landscape of stewardship institutions and the changing frameworks of ownership and sewardship surrounding digital materials. We'll revisit these issues as part of my subsequent presentation scheduled for March 4, building on Jennifer's presentation today.

Mar 4: Clifford LYNCH: The Practice of Stewardship as a Scholarly Discipline.
    I believe that a systematic and broad study of the practices, policies and condition of the cultural record is emerging as a discipline in its own right, and squarely within the remit of Schools of Information as their programs evolve; indeed, it draws upon a very wide range of intellectual inquiry hosted at i-schools, including economics of information, information management, information assurance and security, digital preservation, and library, museum and archival practices. In this talk I'll try to define some of the key research questions that such a discipline must engage and explore. These include:
- Inventory and Mapping: What is the cultural record, how is it evolving, how big is it, and what parts are currently being manged by stewardship institutions.
- Selection, Appraisal and Re-appraisal. What are the priorities for stewardship. How are they establshed, and what principles underpin them? How should they adjust under highly inadequate resources? How centralized should decision making be?
- Legal and Policy issues. This includes, as a central question, how to balance a public interest in stewardship with various intellectual property, artists rights, and privacy regimes.
- Institutions, Collaboration and Succession. Who are the players, and how do they define their roles. What happens when institutions fail?
- Stewardship Transitions. How does responsibility and practical curation move from one locus ot another? When and why do failures occur, and what do we do about them?
    This talk is an extended preview of a keynote that I will give at the I-School conference later this month.

Mar 11: Jerome McGANN, University of Virginia: The Human Sciences in STEM Worlds.
    Humanist studies focus primarily on phenomena that are singular, idiosyncratic, and – in a word – personal. As such, they can appear to lack the procedural rigor that we rightly associate with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical disciplines. But the rigor of humanist studies is not STEM-deficient, it is just STEM-different. We can see the difference best if we take a philological rather than a philosophical view of the humanities. The truth of the humanities is not an idea but a practice, not a theory but a method. And the state of our social and cultural life today underscores our ongoing and very practical need for a rigorous humanist ethics.
    Please read Exceptional Measures: The Human Sciences in STEM Worlds before the Seminar. Available at
    Jerome McGann is University Professor at the University of Virginia and a spring semester Visiting Professor in the Department of English at Berkeley. Well-known for his work on nineteenth-century literature and digital humanities, he is currently working on the history of colonial American treaties with Indian nations of the eastern seaboard and its discursive afterhistory in antebellum "Classic American Literature".

Mar 18: Nick DOTY and Avi RAPPOPORT.
    Nick DOTY: Beginnings of an Interdisciplinary Center: Update on the Center for Technology, Society & Policy.

    Nick Doty will share experiences from the first six months of activity from the Center for Technology, Society & Policy, including our success and challenges in encouraging research, design and building at the intersection of these fields. He'll describe what we've learned from our fellows, research projects, blog posts, happy hours, hackathons, reading groups, panel discussions -- and what could we do with prizes, job boards, career placements, curriculum development or other ideas for the future.
    For info on the Center for Technology, Society & Policy see
    Nick Doty is a Director of the Center for Technology, Society & Policy and a PhD candidate at the School of Information, studying how privacy and other values are considered during the technical design process. He researches privacy in standard-setting for the Internet and the World Wide Web and co-teaches the Technology & Delegation Lab. More at

    Avi RAPPOPORT: News and Notes about Enterprise Search.
    Open-source search is now state-of-the-art, Google is discontinuing its hardware/software search engine, and all the leading commercial search vendors have been swallowed by the biggest enterprise software companies, and in HP's case, proved almost indigestible. How this fits into information access is worth discussing.
    Avi Rappoport received her Master's here when it was the School of Library and Information Studies ('88), worked in Macintosh software development for a decade, and has been consulting on and analyzing enterprise search ever since. She has worked on projects for Kaiser Permanente, Apple marketing, the Sierra Club, the Library of Congress, Salon, VeriSign, the Librarian's Index to the Internet, and many other companies.

Mar 25: Spring Break. No Seminar meeting.

Apr 1: In room 205. Clifford LYNCH: Software Preservation and Attacks on the Cultural Record.

    1. Reflections on the diverse objectives of software preservation, and relationships between preservation, sustainability, and obsolescence. Recent progress on the techolologies of emulation and virtualization have changed many of the assumptions here. (See for example the recent work of David Rosenthal, who spoke at the Seminar last semester about this topic). Recognition that software is an integral part of the verification and reproduction of more and more research results has been a new source of requirements somewhere in the preservation-sustainability continuum. In this discussion I want to revisit some of the assumptions and goals involved in managing software over time.
    2. (As time permits). I would like to open a discussion of lines of attack on the cultural record that are used to selectively purge materials, disrupt the record's integrity, and block or deter stewardship organizations. I believe that these lines of attack have become more numerous and diverse in recent decades, with the shift of increasingly large amounts of the record to digital forms further complicating the situation. This is intended to be an exploratory rather than definitive discussion.

Apr 8: Jim MICHALKO: Library Collaboration - Does it have a future? What kind?
    Jim recently retired from his position as VP, Research Libraries at OCLC. In this session he will use his career in librarianship, his time leading The Research Libraries Group and his last decade at OCLC as the jumping off point for a discussion of shared services in the library domain, the difficulties of building collaborative infrastructure and the relationships between local capacity, above-the-institution capabilities and the academy.s shifting expectations of the university library.
    Prior to joining OCLC in 2006, Jim was the CEO of the Research Libraries Group (RLG) for nearly 16 years. Before directing RLG, Jim held positions in private industry (medical technology, merger and acquisition analysis), the University of Chicago libraries and the University of Pennsylvania libraries. Jim holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago (MBA and MLS) and earned a bachelor of arts at Georgetown University. Google him.

Apr 15: Jeff MACKIE-MASON, University Librarian: "Wasn't Digitization Supposed to be Easy? And Good for Us?"
    Cultural institutions — like libraries, archives and museums — have remarkable collections of artifacts and records documenting our social, cultural, economic, political, personal &c. histories. These collections are treasures — for teaching and scholarly research, for cultural understanding, for the preservation and transmission of individual and family and community identity and history. With the dawn of dirt cheap digital information technology, the opportunity is obvious and glorious: set our treasures free. Digitize everything, and make it freely available to the world. All it takes is money … and not very much of that anymore.
    But wait: Is it really that easy? And should we really do it?
    With a couple of case studies, a few scattered anecdotes and maybe a dramatic reading from Dave Eggers's The Circle, I’ll offer a few reflections on why “setting our treasures free” is a bit more fraught than it might seem at first glance.
    Jeffrey MacKie-Mason is the new University Librarian and Chief Digital Scholarship Officer, with joint appointments in the School of Information and the Department of Economics. He was a professor at the University of Michigan for 29 years (Information and Computer Science, Economics, and Public Policy) and Dean of the School of Information, 2010-2015. He has been a pioneering scholar in the economics of the Internet, online behavior, and digital information creation and distribution. More at

Apr 22: Cheryl HOLZMEYER, Stanford: Public Health NGOs and Open Science Politics: Rhetorics of Openness, Health Field Contestations, and the Elusiveness of Health Equity.
    This talk will discuss research into the relevance of open access initiatives to public health NGOs, situating this research in broader contexts of open science and health equity politics. In particular, it will examine tensions between biomedical and social determinants of health research paradigms and their implications for discourses of openness. Along the way it will touch on challenges of translating greater public access to research into greater public health equity, including in a Bay Area context.
    Cheryl Holzmeyer is a sociologist and postdoctoral research associate of the Public Knowledge Project at Stanford University, as well as the Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California

Apr 29 & May 6: No Seminar meeting.

May 13: Melanie FEINBERG, Univ. of North Carolina: Making Use of Interpretive Flexibility in Metadata Implementation
    People organize information differently, even when they employ standardized mechanisms (such as metadata schemas, controlled vocabularies, and detailed guidelines) for doing so. Theoretical discussions, empirical observations, and experimental assessments in various domains concur: we should expect interpretive flexibility to emerge in all data collection activities. Nonetheless, practices associated with the development of metadata standards, the generation of data according to these standards, and the aggregation of standards-compliant datasets continue to view interpretive flexibility as a solvable problem.
    In this talk, I examine the persistent dissonance between evidence (that interpretive flexibility is inevitable) and practice (which continues to “aim for” semantic interoperability based on consistent application of standards). I use findings from a critical design study to locate this dissonance within particular values associated with notions of user-centered information access. To address this situation, I contend that, if we hope to curate, aggregate, and use datasets responsibly and well, we need to better understand the kinds of interpretive differences that appear even when metadata standards are employed.
    Further, I suggest that interpretive flexibility in metadata implementation also has utility, albeit a form of utility associated with a different set of design values. I illustrate this with a set of examples from an experimental dataset of videogame metadata, where creators of metadata records applied a standardized schema and associated controlled vocabularies to describe a set of common games. Analysis of these examples demonstrates how useful evidence emerges from the metadata creators’ creative, flexible interpretations of metadata standards.
    Melanie Feinberg is an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Melanie is a classificationist: she studies the design of systems for organizing information. Her research approach blends information studies, the humanities, and human-computer interaction. Melanie has a doctorate from the University of Washington (2008) and a master’s from the Berkeley School of Information (2004), when it was known as the School of Information Management and Systems (SIMS).

The Seminar will resume in the Fall semester.
  Fall 2015 schedule and summaries.   Fall 2016 schedule and summaries.