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Digital Dog comprises a meditation on my experience with library school and digital libraries -- raharris
American Memory | Bartleby | Bodley Library | California Digital Library | del.icio.us/raharris | DELOS | DigLibDevo (Google) | D-Lib Magazine | Digital Library Federation | Digital Library in a Box | EduForge | Electronic Text Center (UVA) | Fedora | Folksonomies - Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata | Folksonomies: A User-Driven Approach to Organizing Content | ibiblio | IFLANET: DigLib | Internet Archive | IntraText | Journal of Digital Information | Librarians' Index to the Internet | Library & Information Technology Association | MINERVA | Metadata Object Description Scheme | Metro NY Library Council Digitization Resources | NYPL: Digital | NJ Digital Highway | Project Gutenberg | RU: Digital Libraries Projects | Samuel Pepys Diary
Current Month
Sep. 18th, 2005 @ 02:22 pm Commotion motion
I think this is week two, though I can't be certain. The journal below is the original version, but I should note two exceptions proffered by Professor Pavlovsky: 1. She did not call a halt to the discussion, she just encouraged us to chill out. 2. Despite my outrage at Julien and Duggan, the fact is the vast majority of the lit =is= in English.

Prof. Belkin, a well-respected information scientist, will be dropping into our class in Week 3.

Journal, week two:
Apparently there was something of a commotion about the reading this week. I don’t know the details but part-way through the week the professor waved the white flag can called a halt to both the reading the the discussion. I’ve been in graduate school in one way of another since the mid-80s and this is a new one on me! One gathers the professor didn’t take this action on a whim, that either the quality of the discussion suffered or my colleagues were on the verge of rebellion. Or both.

Here’s the issue – the reading in question was a pair of literature reviews and one longitudinal analysis of information needs and literature. The reasoning for assigning this material now is sound; lit reviews pull double duty in familiarizing students with the literature and with the history and direction of the discipline. It can be a good short cut to reading all the literature and coming to conclusions oneself. Lit reviews amass the scope of the debate in a digestible format that helps students, especially, understand the larger picture in a straightforward and relatively pain free manner.

Not pain-free enough, it seems. Again I am not familiar with the details, but some of my student colleagues found must have found the articles difficult enough to get their arms around that them professor called a halt, for the time being anyway, to the discussion. There are likely many reasons for this, one of which was readily admitted by the professor: the information =is= difficult to get one’s arms around! Readers expecting to understand every tick and ninny of the articles were going to be in for a disappointment. I certainly didn’t and I doubt many students, if any, did. That’s one problem, the expectation that every reading if going to be immediately accessible. It won’t. I had a history grad professor who specialized in intellectual history. While most of us in the class understood the political and or social historical underpinnings of the era under discussion, the majority of my student colleagues at the time lacked a background in intellectual history, and it was slow going for most of us. And of course we worried; all of us were accustomed to reading and understanding quickly and efficiently, and the intellectual class proved a challenge . Of course professor Elbert had been through this before and knew that we’d all do well provided that just concentrated on reading. Read enough and the understanding will come; maybe not immediately, but with time.

I associated her suggestion with my own realization that I didn’t understand everything my parents told me when I was a teenager, but that much of their advice took new meaning in my adulthood. Though not all of their advice was accessible to my adolescent mind I stored it up, then grew up, and suddenly much of it made a lot more sense. I took Sarah’s advice and just read with an eye for eventual understanding and, like my parent’s advice, some of the reading did eventually make sense to me and, unfortunately, some never will!

So that may well be reason number one for the problem this week: an unreasonable expectation of immediate accessibility of the reading material. Anyone expecting to take all this in on the first go- around was bound to be sorely disappointed. But I don’t think that was the only problem; no, part of the blame should be placed on the medium itself. Literature reviews have always struck me as self-referential as best, masturbatory at worst. The theory is good: short analyses of the ongoing debate with an eye to the development of of the discipline and advice about future directions. The problem is not the theory but the practice (to paraphrase, in a way, Pettigrew et alia!). Authors of lit reviews take as read the idea that to be considered valid their studies must be expressed with metrics. So they set out categories or analysis, count the frequencies of articles which suit those categories, then report that, for example, that “28% of . . . 165 articles supplied were theoretically grounded,” or that “Of the 95 information behavior papers examined, 58.9% used theory with 1.99 theory incidents per article.” (Pettigrew et al., p. 45).

Metrics are great – I love metrics. Use them all the time myself. But metrics are only as good as the categories of analysis upon which they are based. Like computer programs, metrics are rules-based, meaning that a set of rules are established and the data are assessed by a strict application of those rules. The best computer programs are those which start with a valid rules set, and the same goes for databases, the ground rules are all important. The problem I find with lit reviews is that the datasets are highly subjective to begin with. Julien and Duggan’s (2000) longitudinal analysis limits itself to studies published in the English language (p. 293)! I can’t imagine a more randomly established category of analysis.

So, in my humble opinion, lit reviews start out with subjective categories of analysis which both skew the eventual results and offer a glimpse into the biases of the authors (referring us back of course to last week’s discussion of cognitive authority – see how it all fits together?!). But it gets worse – in many cases lit reviews point to each other for validation! This is where my “self-referential” critique comes in. Evidence of this practice can be found in all three of our readings for this week, but none more humorous than Julien and Duggan’s division of the literature into three periods, the first and the last of which are analyzed by the authors and then =compared= to a seperate analysis done in the middle period!

“Masturbatory” might seem a strong term, but I think it is the best description of what this genre of literature has become. Authors depend on metrics as a validation of their conclusions, but the categories of analysis upon which those metrics are predicated are composed subjectively, often it seem, randomly. Then a published lit review is taken as a source for =other= lit reviews, who then use a =review of lit reviews= as an established source! This is crazy!

So one problem may be the density of the medium, combined with the expectation that articles should be immediately accessible to readers. But I think a more significant problem is the medium itself, which lacks the objectivity to make it a cognitive authority.
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punts, oxford
Sep. 12th, 2005 @ 10:46 am Cognitive authority
This week in Human Information Behavior the subject was cognitive authority and Prof. Pavlovsky had us read:

1.1 Wilson, P. (1983). Second hand knowledge; Cognitive authority. In P. Wilson, Second-hand knowledge: An inquiry into cognitive authority (p.vii-viii, 13-37, 107-112, 120) Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

1.2 Meltzoff, J. (1998). Critical Reading (Chapter 1) In J. Meltzoff Critical thinking about Research p. 3-12. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association

Our assignment was to write critical journals of each article, but including them here would lack the context of having read the article. Instead, a reflection about my grand father, teaching history, and composing authority.

My grandfather – 90-some years old and going strong – is convinced that history is being re-written. What he hears historians saying today does not jibe with what he learned in the 19-teens, and the clever right-wing operatives at Fox TV “news” (and yes, I dare to question the cognitive authority of an entire network) have convinced him that liberals are involved in a world-wide plot to obfuscate the truth. So is all adds up: (1) what is being taught in the 20-oughts differs from what I learned in the 19-teens, + (2) the liberal media/Hollywood/academic elite are plotting to hide the truth, = (3) historians are re-writing history.

In history courses we teach that the teaching of history is not static. Over time subtle changes creep into the way our history is understood; new sources are uncovered and modes of analysis come in and out of fashion. And many people think that history is taught as a means of understanding ourselves; as our society changes so do those needs. The history of the study of history is called historiography, and understanding the evolution of historical trends plays a big role in the intellectual development of historians. The vast majority of history dissertations begin with a review of the historiography of the subject under study, and suggestions of how the current work improves upon that which has preceded it.

When I teach history courses I usually include a class or two on historiography in the 100- 200-level courses, and an entire unit in the 300- and 400-levels. Take the history of the American Civil War (ACW) -- understanding the great war between the states has evolved tremendously over time, and people unfamiliar with the subject might not even recognize that the same subject is being covered in the histories written in the 1880s and those written in the 1980s.

The original historical analyses of the ACW were written by people who live through the war. Their writing represents attempts to explain and justify actions, positions, and emotions taken during the war. It has not been very long since the Persian Gulf war, and already we have a shelf full of volumes written by people who participated in that event. And of course they all have different biases, because of different perspectives and different objectives.

That is, one's memory of the event is going to have a certain slant if one is planning to, say, run for President. And that is the way it was for those who wrote just after the Civil War -- winners or losers, each had the incentive to explain and justify their actions.

A second school of historiography include those who advocated what has been called the "irrepressible conflict" mode of thought, did not have the need to justify their participation because, of course, they took no part. Their interpretation of the war had more to do with using the new social sciences, a recent development, to understand events in the turn-of-the-century America. A great deal had taken place between the Civil War and the "Progressive" period, and practitioners of the new social sciences, or political economy, felt under some obligation to explain the roots of that change. And they were apt to locate it in unpreventable, unstoppable "natural" forces; thus, an irrepressible conflict.

If we look hard you can see how these historians drew upon 19th century tendencies to contrast the moral influences of history v. the material influences; that is, you should be able to see how these historians mimicked the "quarrel between Hegel and Marx over the primacy of ideas or material resources as dialectical dynamics in human history." Or: Did the moral objections to slavery outweigh the primacy of economic influences?

Historians in the third group were called "revisionists" at the time they wrote, but now may be said to represent the "repressible conflict" mode of thinking. These were people who had lived through the First World War, called the Great War in Europe, and their primary, if unstated, concern was to reinterpret the Civil War in the attempt to better understand the horrors of WWI. The brunt of this argument had it that no difference was irreconcilable enough to have led the North and the South to War. Everything could have been prevented, and responsibility for the war should be laid at the doorstep of blundering politicians or fanatical agitators.

At this time many people in the US were busy reinterpreting out participation in WWI to read that America had unnecessarily gotten itself embroiled in an affair which was none oft its business -- the many American deaths were preventable, as was the economic chaos. In the attempt to reinterpret the US involvement in Europe, then, historians reinterpreted the ACW to fit a model.

Finally, the last group are members of the historical trend known as the "New Social History." This group chooses not to concentrate analyses on the institutional bodies of history, the leaders and the governments, but to try and analyze the lives of real people. Not the GW Bushes, but the blankety-blank you and mes. Not surprisingly, members of this group tend to root the war in the clashing of social systems -- differences in the needs and the lives of real people were not reconciled, and war resulted.

Granddad Pellerin doesn't give a hoot for this or that. Why should he? He worked hard all his life and is part of the generation that invented the middle class as we know it today. When he learned history the predominant mode of thought suggested that the war was the result of an irrepressible conflict, and no matter what has happened in the world of academics that is how he is going to understand the Civil War, period-end-of-story. Several schools of thought have passed him by and the suggestion that history should be considered from the ground up, from the point of view of the common man and woman, is simply not viable. So with the help of a conservative mind-set and Fox "news" propaganda he sees modern ways of thinking as not only wrong, but as being part of a vast left-wing plot to re-write history.

The cognitive authority he recognizes was established 80-some years ago and is reinforced by a slick right-wing propaganda unit masking as a news agency. Does that make him wrong? No. His Weltanschauung suggests and interpretation of history that is not only real for him, but is correct. When he approaches a reference librarian with a request that librarian needs to conduct the reference interview with an understanding of the roots of his biases and should conduct the interview with a compassion for and an appreciation of that background. In a nutshell, that is what what both Meltzoff and Wilson imply with their suggestions that we pay special attention to the depth and variety of cognitive authority.
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punts, oxford
Aug. 29th, 2005 @ 12:49 am As the semester closes in . . .
Well campers, when last we left ye I was preparting to sally out for three days of mandatory on-campus orientation. My joke at the time was that they'd seem to have packed an afternoon's worth of activities into three days -- humor near the mark but not quite on it. After two days the director, a sensible woman, recognized there was no reason to go three days just because the schedule was written that way. We'd done our work in two days and that was enough.

One thing I was worried about was students who had really come from a distance -- three days is a long time away from home! I needn't have worried, and not just because the period was truncated. More on that as I go into my Ebert/Roeper routine --

Let's start with the positive -- THUMBS UP

- Program director Karen Novick is a good choice for that position -- creative, flexible, organized, intelligent. The selection of the director is important, as it can mean the difference between a program that works and one that doesn't.
So far I have a good feeling about this program.
- The first year is well-defined -- two course the first semester, two the second. Then options open up. But this is also a thumbs down -- see below.
- Faculty seem fine -- the one or two we met.
_ They've got a great library and it should be fun to work in. It's a "distance" program but I live close enough to take advantage of the physical library, and I plan to.
- They have a well-developed digital library infrastructure, including the Digital Highways program, something I hope to work with if I can. I wrote one of their grad students for help/tips/information this afternoon and I hope he answers

The THUMBS DOWN probably seens long, but remember that I'm a trained historian: we put the crit back in critical

- The program demographics seem narrow. This is a distance education program with two programmatic foci: K-12 Ed-Media and Digital Libraries. I expected people from all over the country representing many different local and received cultures, a diversity of gender and an even split between program foci. No offence against my future colleagues, nor noe against a grad committee who could only work with what they were given, but here's how things worked out in the diversity area: Almost everyone is from NJ; in fact the geographical spread differs little from their traditional program. Of the 35 people in the program sex breaks down this way: 34 women, 1 man. Guess who the man is. Finally, from what I can tell I am the only representative from the higher ed IT community. Some of my colleagues adjunct on the university level, some are hausfrauen, and most seem to be k-12 teachers or librarians.

There is nothing wrong with this composition. If I can't learn from someone it is my fault, not theirs. But it wasn't what I expected. The Drexel program -- again, a very good education -- featured much the same mix of hausfrauen and K-12 types. For some bizarre reason I'd convinced myself that the RU gang would be more academically-inclined. That they do not seem to be is no fault of either the students or the administrators, but is one of my imagination, and my imagination alone.

- I'd also imagined we'd be meeting greeting and getting to konw the faculty during this period. One or two slowed down for a wave as a scurried by, but that was it for meeting the faculty. I'd had a lot ot questions - they'll all have to wait.

-- The campus itself seems very nice but access to it is restricted to tiny loop of semi-highway connecting the campus with the turnpike. The exits are confusing; there is a George street exit at the Douglass College end of campus and another at the New Brunswick/Library end, and newbies are left to guess which is appropriate. The fourland road that runs between the river and the campuses was hard to manage in August and is likely to be murder in September.

- Which brings me to the possibility or taking courses there. Not something I want to do -- hence the whole signing up for the distance program. But it turns out they had four courses set out for the DL students the first year. A real good idea until I found the fault: one of the courses concerns technology, and at least one person besides myself has tested out of it. Leaving me free to take another course but, as I mentioned above, they have the first four courses worked out for us and no alternatives. My tough luck. So I thought for this one semester I'd trek down once a week to take an in-person course. The program director was open to the idea and gave me three choices -- one was too advances or me, one was =very= interesting and just as irrelevant, and the third, Metadata, seemed just the choice.

Two things here. First, due to politics on my end I'm not going to be able to take off the Monday afternoons I'd need in order to get down to RU. Second, the director mentioned it might be a good idea for me to take the course now, since it wasn't going to be offered at a distance. And therein lies the rub. It has seemed that the program skews to the K-12/edmedia crowd, and this seems to offer proof. IMHO, If the program was thinking at all clearly about digital libraries, Metadata would be taught front-and-center, no ifs/ands or buts.

There is a suggestion that course offerings for the distance program are undergoing a re-appraisal, and I hope they add metadata to the offerings. Sure, I could probably do it as an independent study, but I'd rather take a course.

All in, all good, it's late, off to bed -- Robert
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punts, oxford
Aug. 28th, 2005 @ 11:58 pm Development on Del.icio.us
Here we are with a new semester to begin and I'm getting ramped up. To a certain extent I've been doing this all summer long, at least since my acceptance to the MLIS program at SCILS (RU). Research means finding things on the web, recording their existance and categorizing them for future accessibility. A pile of books in the middle of a room isn't a library, a roster of links isn't folksonomy.

But it ain't easy either. I've been through two major revisions:
1. The first iteration stressed geographic origination over content. I think spatially so it made sense to sort things by point-of-origin. But p-o-o says POO about about meaning and is useless as a category of analysis. Now, if the levels of categorization ever become very sophisticated I'll probably work my way down to geospatial orienation as a category of meaning, but certainly never THE primary key of rationalization. In short, first big fuck-up. We learn.

2. The second time around I decided on a more meaningful set of categories and sub-categories (see below). But I was't happy with the composition of link names themselves. For better or worse I'm a child of Redmond, so I think hierarchically. There is a usefulness to this way of through, but only of the hierarchy is 3-dimensional. The old DOS hierarchies were triangular, flat. Top, middle and bottom all existed on one plane. Time, depth and dimension played no role in WOD -- the world of DOS. But the Internet changed all that, smashing barriers imposed by place and time, and allowing for the creation of truly 3-D (string theorists might say 11-D, but I'll let them argue that one out).

I wanted to connect tag fragments with arrowheads (carets) in order to demonstrate interlinkable, detachable, configurable relationshipts between tag fragments, each of which would comprise almost limitless compound tag formations simulating depth and dimension within the hierarchy. OK, I have'nt given up on that principle yet, but let's just sum up that go by suggesting, in short: second big fuckup.

The thrid go-around abandons illusions of introducing novelty to the process -- in effect, I've surrendered. Look at my del.icio.us site now and it will look vary familiar. You've seen hundreds of them, literatlly, as have I. Hey, for now it works. If you want to see a digital-library bookmark site that =really= works give a gander at http://del.icio.us/spdegabrielle/ -- I wrote him once but he never answered. Too busy I'd imagine -- or didn't think enough of my missive to bother. In any event, his site is much more mature than mine and should be considered a better template, whereas mine is more a work-in-progress.

For what it is worth this is what I've got: 142 links in 12 categories, each of which subsumes many sub-categories.
There will be time to parse -- analyze and re-parse -- the organization, but for now this is what I am going with. Lots of work to be done and everyone knows more than me, so please lay it on! Robert




  • Digital-Archives

    26 Digital-Archives

  • Digital-Libraries

    95 Digital-Libraries

  • Digital-Libraries-Metadata

    4 digital-libraries-dublincore

    10 digital-libraries-metadata

  • Digital-Libraries-Periodicals

    7 digital-libraries-articles

    15 digital-libraries-periodicals

  • Digital-Libraries-Projects

    3 digital-libraries-centers

    2 digital-libraries-conferences

    2 digital-libraries-consortia

    2 digital-libraries-initiatives

    2 digital-libraries-labs

    4 digital-libraries-organizations

    15 digital-libraries-projects

    7 library-of-congress

    5 us.gov't

  • Digital-Libraries-RutgersU

    11 rutgers.u

  • Digital-Libraries-Tools

    2 del.icio.us

    1 digital-libraries-audio-tools

    11 digital-libraries-tools

    4 Folksonomies

    3 linux

    2 oai

    2 open-access

    2 software

  • Digital-Libraries-Universities

    2 columbia.u

    2 cornell.u

    43 digital-libraries-universities

    1 harvard.u

    1 lehigh.u

    1 lund.u

    1 oxford.u

    11 rutgers.u

    1 stanford.u

    1 suny.albany

    1 texas.a&m.u

    1 tufts.u

    1 u.arizona

    1 u.chicago

    1 u.heidelberg

    1 u.houston

    2 u.illinois.uc

    1 u.maryland

    6 u.michigan

    1 u.minnesota

    1 u.mississippi

    1 u.northcarolina

    2 u.pennsylvania

    1 u.pittsburgh

    1 u.so.california

    1 u.tennesee

    2 u.virginia

    1 u.wisconsin

    5 uc.berkeley

    1 washington.u

  • Digitized-Collections
    68 collections

  • Digitized-History-Collections

    30 digitized-history-collections

    4 digitized-history-collections-18thC

    2 digitized-history-collections-19thC

    7 digitized-history-collections-20thC

    1 digitized-history-collections-ancient

    3 digitized-history-collections-labor

    3 digitized-history-collections-medieval

  • Digitized-Humanities-Collections

    1 art

    2 audio

    3 bibliography

    1 biography

    2 buddhism

    1 dissertations

    1 education

    1 ethnicity

    1 googleprint

    1 gutenberg

    2 humanities

    3 images

    7 literature

    2 maps

    1 pepys

    1 perseus

    1 photos

    1 quaker

    2 religion

    3 social-sciences

    1 text

    1 theses

    1 victorian

    3 women

  • Digitized-Misc.-Locations

    1 africa

    1 alaska

    1 america

    2 asia

    1 california

    1 europe

    1 himalaya

    1 illinois

    1 india

    1 massachusetts

    1 michigan

    1 minnesota

    2 newjersey

    2 newyork

    1 northcarolina

    2 pennsylvania

    1 spain

    1 sweden

    1 trans-ireland

    1 u.k.

    2 u.s.

    1 wales

    1 washington-state

About this Entry
punts, oxford
Aug. 3rd, 2005 @ 12:24 am Preparing for orientaion to the Rutgers MLIS program
Hello non-existant audience!

Been a while since I've posted, but this is supposed to be a library school blog and I've not had a class since last I posted. To summarize, I started an MLIS program at Drexel University but after the class started I was accepted into a program that seems to serve better my needs. The MLIS program at Rutgers is also distance learning, but this one emphasizes a subject near to my heart: digital libraries.

So I finished the one course at Drexel and I liked it. The professor was very good, I learned a lot, and if for any reason Rutgers does not work out (and I expect it will) I'd be happy to return to DU.

Finally received my introductory packet from Rutgers. One thing I think is funny about a distance learning program is a mandatory 3-day on-site orientation. Not a big deal for me because I can commute, but if I was from Binghamton NY, Missoula MT, or Santa Fe, NM I might be peeved at having to travel for a degree that was promised to have been taught at a distance. Still, it is only three days and being that it is a pioneer program I can't blame them for wanting to meet their victimes -- er -- students, and make sure everything starts right. In all I find the orientation surprising but not irksom

Mini Orientation Syllabus:

Day 1:
Overview of LIS as a profession and discipline
Plan of study
Aministrative issues and registration
Rutgers email accounts and IDs

Day 2:
Distsance access to Rutgers resources
Tour of New Brunswick campus
ID Cards
Student life

Day 3:
About online learning
Tutorial: Rutgers Online course system
Issues in grad studies

Honestly I can't see how all that adds up to barely two days, but I don't know what comprises each element and what is missing from this short list.

Classes for our first year are pre-determined, starting with:
Human Information Behavior
Info Tech for Libraries and Information Agencies

The first course promises to be a special one, but I am conflicted about the second. I've been a provessional in information tech for going on 12 years now, so you'd think the course too elementary for my needs. And they've offered us a chance to CLEP out (American slang meaning to waive a course dependent on the successful completion of an assessment) of it and into something else, an offer I've been considering

On one hand a lot of what is going to be covered in this course really will be review. On the other some of it will be either new or, and here's the kicker, presented to me in an organized fashion for the first time. Remember I started this out as a history teacher interested in using tech in the classroom. I wanted to be the historian who used technology but became the technologist who studies history. Being an autodidact is great fun and got me where I am, but it can't hurt to review these subjects systematically.

So that's my decision -- I'll take that standardized course structure, including the info tech course. As with the other, it should be fun. As I've said, I'm not looking forward to the orientation but am very excited about the program.

I'll ring back when I have something to report from the orientation next week -- cheers --
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punts, oxford
Jun. 9th, 2005 @ 08:50 am more on folksonomy
Little did I realize what I was getting myself into with the digital libraries site at del.icio.us:

Some changes:

1. My original folks-onomy included make (digital library or something else), model (collections, projects, centers, etc.) and some subject descriptors (history, literature, women, etc.). But is also included geographic locators: Regions > (Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe) > (U.S., Namibia, China, U.K., etc.) > even states in the case of the US. But then I got to thinking -- since this is online one can access an Asian site from the US and a Eurpean from Africa, so why is geography important? I guess I included it because my blighted old arse was born and brought up in the pre-cyber world where geography was an important indicator of access. If something was in Europe one could potentially fly there, but most things behind the Iron Curtain were off limits. In cyber reality geography becomes less important, and in this case not significant enough to make it into my system of classification.

With some exceptions. When the location is a subject matter rather then a mere geographic locator it is included. For example the Illinois Alive! site concerns the history of Illinois and thus earns a tag by that name. However the Digital Projects at the University of Illinois  (Urbana-Champagne) holds collections not relevant to location and the Region > Continent > Country > State classification is eliminated.

2. Originally I was thinking in terms of digital libraries, but the more I poked about the more I became aware of another important classification: digital archives. The first concentrates on text resources while the second collects material artifacts, sound and image recordings, etc. The US Labor and Industrial History WWW Audio Archive (Cambridge) stresses, as one might expect, sound recordings. So I've added another major type to the digital.libraries designation, digital.archives The more experienced browsers among my readership (which as far as I can tell is comprised of just one person: hello pruneprisms!) will note the problem right off: while it might be important I make the distinction between archives and libraries (I think it is) what is to be done in the case of collections that straddle the line? For example the Emma Goldman Papers (Berkeley) contains both text and material artifacts.

My solution thus far has been to enter both designations in such cases, but that is somewhat akward. What are the other possibilities? The only logical option that comes to mind right off is that I could come up with an overarching term and sub-designate collection type: text, material, images, multimedia, etc. While that sounds good I see two problems: first, what term would overarch both libraries and archives? Second, with over a hundred entries I'd have a lot of back-tracking to do . . . maybe I can just convert existing tags for digital.libraries . . . no, that won't do it . . .

Which brings me to my final point for the day -- two actually. 1. It would have been better to have come up with the folksonomy before I started applying it. The problem with that is that you don't know what you'll need until you are knee deep in it already. 2. There is just a shit of a lot out there. Some of it is indeed shit, some not. What to include and what not? One of the criteria I've used is that anything involving history or literature, but especially history, is in right off. Science oriented sites and the like get a much more robust screening. One result there is that only the best of the science sites have made it into the list, while all sorts of history sites have.

What other criteria could I use besides personal interest? Perhaps the quality of the site. But how does one assess that? It's difficult (despite the fact that above I claim to have done it for science sites). Does one go by the looks of the site, how often it is maintained and updated, navigability, quality of content? And what are the benchmarks in any of those cases? The use of metadata to describe the site? I'll tell ya', some of the metadata sites stink and some that don't employ are great, IMHO.

So anyway, considering these questions is fun. I imagine if I had more formal experience in the subject, but it's interesting to work these things out on one's own -- Cheers, Robert
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punts, oxford
Jun. 7th, 2005 @ 09:01 am I'm baaaaack
Was away for a while as I dealt with work, illness, and the end of the semester. Semesters, I should say -- end of the academic year at work and end of the Spring semester at Drexel. Some updates re: library school, and my next note will detail progress on my social bookmarking project

School is over, as I've mentioned. I ran out of steam toward the end, but what do you want from a fat old man? After my last entry we covered issues such as the digital divide, accessibility, and the future of libraries and librarianship. I'd have shared some of my stunning insights, but none were either that stunning or very insightful. So, dear readership, you win on both accounts.

The final project was a grant proposal. I think I've written before that I am conflicted by the project. On the one hand it is great to get some grant-writing practice, but on the other the assignment reflects a cynicism about the future of libraries and librarianship. That grant-writing is one of the basic skills necessary to be a librarian suggests that local, state, and federal governments devalue libraries into starvation, leaving information science professionals to proffer tin cups on street corners. It is a sad state of affairs that the state is valorizing public prayer and ritualizing state-sponsored religion at the expense of both information and science. That we are developing important grant writing skills is good; that we need to is disappointing.

'Nuff said on that subject. For my grant I conflated the Botto Labor Museum and the D&L Cheng (doesn't that sound like a railroad line?!) Library into a digital archive that will store "recently uncovered artifacts" of the 1913 silk strike, including sound recordings, texts, and material artifacts. I injected a bit of a joke -- the sound recordings are tapes, and of course magnetic tapes didn't exist in 1913. Let's see if the prof. catches that one. A second joke: the title of my fictional information science dissertation: "The Spinach Papers: Folksonomy v. Taxonomy in the Online Popeye Archive." I don't even know where that came from; I haven't thought about Popeye in what, decades?!

Onwards and upwards. She'll score it, we'll all move on. Rutgers holds it's orientation in August, so I'll drive down to New Bruswick for a few days then start the digital libraries program in the Fall. Chances are good this will have been both the first and the last course in which I'll participate at Drexel, but we shall see.

It's funny -- Drexel's mascot is a dragon, Rutgers' is a knight -- get it?! Oh I just slay myself . . .
Cheers, Robert
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punts, oxford
May. 9th, 2005 @ 06:10 pm Intellectual Freedom, part 2 -- Info 520 Week 6 -- Drexel U.
Turns out that most of the books "challenged" in public libraries are written for children.

Now I'm sorry that some children are denied access to good literature, but I'm sorrier still that they are being taught that it is fine to determine to what the public ought and ought not have access. Because that's the lesson of a banned book: my mom says that we shouldn't read Harry Potter because it's a bad book that teaches us bad things. other moms must agree because it's not available in my library. it's a good thing our wise adults can keep bad things from us

On one hand that’s great – it means that the people who are worried about banning or limiting access to books aren’t that concerned with what adults read. It’s also likely that book banners don’t read adult books, which may be one of their problems to begin with. But that’s another story.

The “other hand” is that children, wee little consciousnesses in their formative states, are a) missing out on some good literature and b) learning that it is OK to limit freedoms. Most of the class discussion has concentrated on the first point: that well-written books with good morals are being kept from some children. And that is a fine point to make. For me the second point is more important. While I’m sorry that some kids won’t be able to read the Harry Potter books, in the long run they are ephemeral. More long-lasting is the lesson some parents and school boards send: some information is good to read and some is not, and that the people in charge have a right to distinguish one from the other.

What lesson does that teach children? That it is just fine for the military to limit information from the war front? That presidents have a right to limit access to information that has traditionally belonged in the public domain? Every day I see people in this country accepting both of those tenets, perhaps because they learned in school that is was indeed all right for the people in charge to determine what information we have a right to and to what information what we do not.

Losing out on some great literature? That is a pity, really. Learning that information is only as free as the people in charge determine it is? Priceless.
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May. 8th, 2005 @ 04:36 pm raharris/folksonomy
a FolksWelten Tax.no.no.my of del.icio.us/raharris/


    > collections


        > art (& architecture)
        > history
        > humanities
        > literature
        > reference
        > social.sciences
        > science
        > z.gamut

      > media

        > film
        > music
        > photos
        > software
        > text
        > z.gamut

    > regions

      > americas

        > u.s.

          > california
          > illinois
          > newjersey
          > newyork
          > michgan
          > minnesota
          > pennsylvania
          > tennesee
          > texas
          > virginia
          > wisconsin

      > asia
      > europe

        > u.k.

      > africa

    > sites

      > centers
      > consortia
      > labs
      > periodicals
      > projects
      > tools

    > tools
    > universities

      > columbia.u
      > rutgers.u
      > texas.a&m.u
      > stanford.u
      > u.chicago
      > u.illinois.uc
      > u.michigan
      > u.minnesota
      > u.pennsylvania
      > u.tennesee
      > u.virginia
      > u.wisconsin
      > uc.berkeley


    > collections
    > sites
    > tools


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punts, oxford
May. 8th, 2005 @ 01:11 pm Intellectual Freedom -- Info 520 Week 6 -- Drexel U.
Intellectual Freedom. Turns out everyone in the class supports the concept. 'Nuff said.

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