Archive for March, 2012

More on Next Gen

Just a couple more thoughts on the Next or Third Gen Catalog discussion:

I found it interesting that the “Recommender” features in Endeca get positive feedback as reported by Antelman et al., while the Amazon link is so disliked in trials with WCL. I think this shows that it’s the commercial attribute of the Amazon link that is unwelcome, not the “more titles like this” or “most popular” advice potential.

A couple of classmates have already mentioned the OPAC features they dislike in HELIN, in the  Curriculum Resources or the libraries where they work. I do find it strange that when I initiate a database search in HELIN using title or keyword and an author’s name from an APA citation, it often won’t return anything, but if I truncate the author’s name, I’ll get what I’m looking for. This isn’t always a problem, only sometimes. Fickle, I’d say.

Going into the public library catalog in RI is much friendlier via Encore, I find, but of course they don’t have such a depth of academic databases.


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I read Toward a Twenty-First Century Library Catalog by Kristin Antelman, Emily Lynema and Andrew  K. Pace as the last piece in the “Next Gen Catalog” puzzle. In a replay, I would have read in exactly the opposite order, i.e Antelman et al. first, the .ppt second and the taskforce findings report third. Oh well. Accordingly, I must officially state this is not going to be a very helpful post, but I intend to have fun.

The Antelman et al. article put a lot of OPAC history in the context of current catalog dissatisfaction. I understand a little more every time I read anything about search engines, web crawling, databases and the whole algorithms/semantics/folksonomies/FRBR business. Really, I do, but I can’t explain it in some better more succinct way. Let me digress instead.

I am still exhilarated by the beauty of the rare, elusive and weirdly giraffe like OKAPI. They have such a nice rich chestnutty brown color, and those ears. So we have moved beyond that “tree” in cataloging history perhaps, but the zoological version is, thank goodness, still considered a natural wonder. Do you know they weren’t “discovered” (by white colonial explorer types, that is) until the end of the 19th century, and the first live siting/capture  wasn’t until around the time of WWI (white man again)? What, you may ask, does this have to do with the reading? Well, it was just the names of some of the first prototype “improved’ online catalogs had interesting connections to elusive figures: Okapis are real but hard to find, and CHESHIRE… well it’s that smile left when the rest of the cat has disappeared. Did someone have a great sense of humor?

I’ll try to be more insightful next time. For now, let me say I miss the old card catalogs. Not the cards, just the drawers. They were wonderful examples of good carpentry. I know a few artists who managed to get a hold of the junked pieces.

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I presume many of you have read about the suit Yahoo is bringing against Facebook, claiming misuse of Yahoo’s marketing and advertising ideas.  I will keep my eyes open for what Cory Doctorow has to say on this. The scary thing about this social media battle is the prospect of domino litigation if Yahoo sues successfully. Facebook has certainly used other ideas in the past, but there we are, back to what’s acceptable repurposing and what amounts to copyright infringement.


That reminds me of the special irony of the form I chose for my book review.

While putting together my Glogster poster about Cory Doctorow’s book,”©ontent”, I couldn’t print the title’s

© into my poster.

After all Doctorow’s admonitions, did it occur to me why Glogster wouldn’t print the ©? Did I read the terms of use verrryy carefully? Well sort of, but it only hit home that Glogster, like Pinterest, claims copyright of any material you post on its site as I saved to publish publicly. And there was the © in Glogster’s claim of “my” poster. No other ©s allowed, thank you very much.

I’m all for sharing. I like being able to browse LibGuides, Pinterest, Glogster, Flickr, Scoop.it! and a ton of other sites for inspiration from peer ideas. Oh yeah, books and journals too. I would be flattered if -was flattered on Pinterest when- someone pinned my uploaded photograph. I presume most people give credit when using material they find, though often this is in the form of “I found it on LibGuides/Scoop.it!/YouTube/Pinterest” rather than giving an individual’s name. Whether citations are correctly specific or too generalized, I think it odd that a company would claim copyright on a product created in their “space”. Does a studio get to claim the artist’s work as their intellectual property, just because an easel was set up and paints were used? Not likely. This will never matter to me personally. I will not be the next big name in anything. But I have to wonder what the owners of sites like Pinterest and Glogster are hoping for.

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Greetings, 597!

I’ve created a Glogster for my book review. You can listen to my podcast, look at/listen to two of Cory Doctorow’s 2011 speeches, link to Boing Boing and Doctorow’s website, Craphound, read my favorite quote or look at some great photographs of the author on Flickr. One of them, the image I used in my poster, has lots of fun information about the artifacts in the photo if you hover on the Flickr version!

For me, the hardest thing about this review has been paring down the text – again and again, and yet again, to a length and delivery that the average listener might be expected to endure. I hope you are all as far above average as I have rated you! (Now, what do I mean by that? ;-))

Happy listening (you can let the voice play in the background) reading and viewing!

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I’ve explored a number of sites on inspiration from classmates in previous courses, so I’m already familiar with a few fun ones like StumbleUpon, Flickr, LibraryThing, and Shelfari, but I’ve not used these with any particular attention to academic collaborative value, more from personal fun. This year, I’ve been using Evernote and “Read It Later” to bookmark and save pages and I began to have fun with Pinterest through the PUBLIB listserve. I think it has the potential to be a great site for libraries despite some recent publicity about giving up rights to anything you upload to the site.

In connection with my other course this semester, I found the following useful for research:

BibSonomy http://www.bibsonomy.org

Maintained by the University of Kassel, Germany, it’s easy to join and you can choose from various groups and “popular”. The site is run in German or English, and the contributions (as bookmarks and publications) are multilingual. This gives a real overview of what issues are current in which cultures.

So under the Group “Collaborative Knowledge Construction Challenge 2007” for instance, the articles cited below, posted to the group about a year and a half ago by a single contributor, can be seen w/abstract and directly called up Full Text .pdf via URI remote:

Kwak, H.; Lee, C.; Park, H. & Moon, S. (2010), What is Twitter, a social network or a news media?, in ‘WWW ’10: Proceedings of the 19th international conference on World wide web’ , ACM, New York, NY, USA , pp. 591–600 .

Lipczak, M. & Milios, E. (2010), The impact of resource title on tags in collaborative tagging systems, in ‘HT ’10: Proceedings of the 21st ACM conference on Hypertext and hypermedia’ , ACM, New York, NY, USA , pp. 179–188 .

Tags appear in the right hand panel, as well as group members (you can join some) and discussions.

Under “Popular” you can explore posts, discussions, specific authors, tags and concepts.

Exploring under popular posts (last 7 days vs. last 30 days & older) I came across an illustrated explanation of a PhD, which you can see here: http://matt.might.net/articles/phd-school-in-pictures/

Scroll down and you get to another delight: If it’s popular, people translate it! Look at the list!

Pros: scholarly and international content, which makes up for the …

Cons: some navigation annoyances when clicking on group URLs vs. name of group and the interface display visibility/discoverability needs getting used to. As a precaution, you are required to submit a CAPTCHA phrase TWICE (!) before bookmarking.


Compare to: Delicious (Delicious has lots of content-more mixed in popular and content rich, tags are easier to include in saved items. Visuals are attractive. I have a harder time sifting through themes in Delicious, but perhaps it’s because I’ve only just started exploring despite being aware of the tool for a few years.)

Diigo I need to explore more, but I like being able to highlight, share, make sticky notes on web pages etc. I think this is one I may want to use regularly.

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This week’s readings, “Survival Of The Fittest Tag: Folksonomies, Findability, And The Evolution Of Information Organization” by Alexis Wilchowski and “Social Tagging as a Knowledge Organization and Resource Discovery Tool” by Heshem Allam led into another bit of uncharted territory in my personal “Atlas of the Information Highway”. That, I think, describes the crux of the problem: our personal information atlases don’t always show the same outline though we’re navigating the same territories. It leads to the danger of “imprecision, overlap, duplication, ambiguity, and erroneous identification” as Wilchowski quotes Dotsika and Guy&Tonkin. And that leads to the dark edge of the map and lost information. “Here be dragons”, and all that.

Folksonomies and Social Tags to the rescue!

Both articles provided interesting factoids (the last 30 years worth of info production outstripping the previous 5,000 years’ output!), some helpful explanations and details (research shows combining folksonomies and traditional controlled vocabulary increases findability) and, most of all thought provoking ideas, concerns and suggestions for information management in an age of information deluge.

As usual, I find myself jumping back and forth across the fence, playing Devil’s advocate on either side with every new sentence. Here’s a snippet with the fence:

What’s the value of the last 30 years of information vs. the 5,000 years preceding?

The ability to share and produce new content opens phenomenal possibilities in humanitarian work, research and start-ups.

The quality of shared content is impossible to assess and inconsistent

And so forth…

What remains undeniable: we need a dependable consistent order to our information to retrieve it effectively. Emily gave a wonderful example in her blog about “outsourcing” to a group of knitting experts to create a useable set of terms for a crochet and knitting pattern database. This seems viable, not unlike the catalogers with areas of expertise in large libraries. Yes, there’s a certain amount of personal interpretation involved, but shared among a population who have likely drawn a recognizably “same map” that they feel represents effectively to outsiders, too. Just imagine how effective such interest/expertise groups could be in bringing a weave of cross references and descriptors if a project got going like Wikipedia. This seems to be the positive outcome Allam describes when people are made aware of the positive contribution they can make to the greater public.

Still, one thing has me a bit worried: as the next generation of catalogers/classifiers grows up and takes over, will there be a phase of “not knowing the old system” before a reliable, efficient new system matures? Wichowski matter-of-factly states that formal methods of information organization will not disappear (“the mainstream will not disappear, of course”), but fails to support this assertion. Look at the number of cataloging positions cut or deliberately left unfilled in economic downturns. Think of the cuts in 2009 at the LoC. And it is just the lack of context or well developed web of synonyms etc. that make folksonomies unreliable all on their own.

 On the other hand, so much of what’s out there really is only there for personal use, and sometimes it’s really quite private. I’m thinking images or links that are really only intended for a closed circle of friends.

As for the photos on Flickr and pages on delicious, scoop.it etc: The question is risky, but do we need to retrieve all that information? If millions are producing, isn’t it likely (duplication again) that we’ll retrieve enough with a logical search term to reveal a tip sufficiently representing the hidden part of the iceberg? How likely is it that someone hid “diamond” in “ice” or, if they did, that they want you to find it?

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I just read the news that the Research Works Act has been more or less (more) abandoned. You can read about it here, if you haven’t had the news via ALA already.

This is the sort of struggle Cory Doctorow (my chosen author for the book review) writes about all the time: who has governance over our information access? What’s really ours when we purchase or download to listen, read or view, or when we pay taxes, expecting to borrow or have information rights when we enter a databank at home or in a library?

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