The Gift of SMEs

December 15, 2014  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured, reference

A typical thesaurus construction project for a scholarly publisher, policy clearinghouse, medical institution, or any other client with a technical vocabulary involves the input of a number of stakeholders.

At a certain point—usually about three-quarters of the way through the construction of the taxonomy—it’s vital to get the input of subject matter experts (or: subject-matter experts, SMEs, or domain experts). These SMEs generally work for the client—often as technical editors, but just as frequently in other capacities—although we at Access Innovations are occasionally asked to provide them.

image1Figure 1: An SME in his native habitat

In either case, the SME’s job is to review the emergent thesaurus from the perspective of an expert in the field. Even the best taxonomists can garner a finite amount of knowledge through research, especially in complex, complicated, or highly sophisticated domains; without a PhD in particle physics, your branch on quantum field theory will only be so comprehensive.

The SME is, ideally, well acquainted with the state of research in the field, conversant with the current hot topics, steeped in the journal literature, and familiar with both the stable and fluctuating terminologies used by other practitioners in their discipline.

A vocabulary that’s missing important concepts or terms covering exploding areas of research will not present a good public-facing website for your client’s organization. Imagine browsing a computer science taxonomy that’s missing the term “Big Data” in 2014—would you assume the parent of that vocabulary is competent and up-to-date? Therefore, the SME is vitally important, as the end users who will be searching for content in, for example, a large repository of physics papers will very likely be similar to the SME engaged in the review.

Dealing with SMEs can be an excellent and productive experience; unsurprisingly, this process also involves a number of challenges.

(1) [Most] SMEs are not taxonomists: you have to explain it to them.

Your physicist, oncologist, or social scientist SME (unless they happen also to have attended library school) is probably not intimately familiar with tagging, information retrieval, or taxonomies—at least, not nearly to the extent that they understand their chosen area of study.

Don’t assume that whoever wrangled the SMEs for a call with you explained the project, what’s expected of them, or anything else. Be prepared to give a very short expository talk on why the taxonomy matters, what it will do, and why they’ve been asked to participate.

image2Figure 2: (Probably?) not a taxonomist

The bright side is that SMEs tend to be intelligent, so they’ll pick it up. Just don’t expect to be able to dive right into the hierarchy without explaining the background of the project, the purpose of their input, and what you expect them to do.

This last point is especially important. Explain clearly what you do and don’t expect the SMEs to provide feedback on. You definitely want:

(a)  Input on missing terms/concepts. What needs to be added?

(b)  Input on NPTs. What other names, especially acronyms, can supplement the existing terms? What is the fancy new name for a term that everyone’s using since Dr. Johnson wrote his famous 2009 paper?

(c)   Input on term placement and hierarchical organization.  Do the branches make sense? Are the top- and second-level terms a good outline of the field? (More on this below.)

(2) Some SMEs will be more engaged than others.

Almost predictably, some of the SMEs on a given project will take the minimum amount of time to provide feedback (there may even be some initial grumbling), and you’ll never hear from them again. That’s okay; accept the feedback (asking questions if necessary) and let them go back to their job. For many SMEs, their involvement is an extra assignment over and above their normal workload, so it’s understandable.

Invariably, though, you’ll get at least one SME who gets it—who is excited and engaged and thinks the thesaurus is cool and wants to help. This is exactly what you’re looking for, so make sure to match their level of engagement and enthusiasm. Once they get used to thinking about the taxonomy, they’ll be an invaluable resource.

(3) Disagreements between SMEs and taxonomists

See (1), above. SMEs are not used to thinking like taxonomists, so their ideas about term placement, term formation, and warrant are probably not influenced by things like the ISO and ANSI/NISO standards governing thesaurus construction. They will also not be very sensitive to ambiguous terms, and may be familiar only with the portion of relevant content covering their particular sub-area of expertise. You’ll want to watch out for a few specific issues:

(a)  Literary warrant. SMEs will want to add terms covering their entire field, not just the terms required to index the content in question. When considering terms suggested by SMEs, remember to check the content for warrant; reject any terms that don’t meet your criteria.

(b)  Term placement. SMEs will have ideas that make plenty of sense to them, but violate (for example) the all-some rule. Stand your ground here; no matter how you cut it, “dog food” is not a dog. Be ready to suggest using associative relationships (RTs), and explain why they’re helpful.

(c)   Top- and second-level terms structure. This requires a little more flexibility on the part of the taxonomist; while “Particle physics” is clearly a child of “Microphysics” (as it’s a sub-discipline of that field), if your physicist SME insists that it’s a major enough topic to be a Top Term, you should listen.

(4) Spec creep: how much time for SME review?

A taxonomy, as we know, is a living document that’s subject to constant revision and review, but at a certain point you have to call it complete and deliver the project. This is where your enthusiastic SME can cause problems; they will want to make tweak after tweak ad infinitum. Set a schedule for SME reviews, including a timetable for providing material, getting feedback, integrating that feedback, and returning the revised taxonomy. One more round of changes is acceptable, but if you allow for more, it’ll never end.

Try to allow for about eight hours to process the feedback from each SME. Each suggestion, addition, term move, and deletion needs to be considered carefully, so make sure to allow your taxonomists time to properly weigh SME input.

(5) How many SMEs do you need?

This really depends on the size—and, moreover, scope—of the vocabulary. A thesaurus covering All of Science will require more reviewers than one on Acoustics. If you have many SMEs, try to keep them from stepping on one another’s toes.

(6) Tips on presenting the taxonomy and soliciting feedback

Ideally, you can provide a hierarchical display (naturally, a read-only version) that the SMEs can access; this allows them to see the entire term record, including non-preferred terms (NPTs), related terms (RTs), and multiple broader terms (BTs).

In conjunction with a hierarchical view (if possible), the best mechanism for SME feedback is [still] a spreadsheet with a hierarchical display of terms. (If you can, provide each SME with just the branches of the hierarchy that they’re being asked to review.) A spreadsheet allows the SME to make comments, changes, suggestions, additions, and other input using colors, adding cells, or leaving remarks in adjacent fields. Make sure that the taxonomist can see the feedback at a glance, so they don’t have to spend time poring over the document looking for comments.

(7) You don’t have to integrate every single comment–you’re the filter.

On receiving SME feedback, the taxonomist’s job is not to make every change suggested by the SMEs; rather, the SME’s input is raw material for the taxonomist to consider using. In other words, the SME’s expert opinion has to be run through the taxonomist’s filter to accept, reject, or re-format for inclusion in the taxonomy.

image3Figure 3: A grain (or more) of salt

On the other hand, have respect for the SME’s expertise. Be flexible when you can, and try to accommodate the SME’s point of view wherever possible. Oftentimes the SME will, for example, make a suggestion to add a term that already exists phrased another way (a conceptual duplicate); this can trigger the addition of an NPT, changing the preferred version of the term, or some other action—one that was not intended, but nevertheless turned out to be useful.

image4Figure 3: Best. Present. Ever.

SMEs can be a great gift for any taxonomy project—if you have a strategy, provide a clear set of expectations, and maintain good communication throughout the process.

Bob Kasenchak, Project Coordinator
Access Innovations

Access Innovations Named to EContent’s Annual Top 100 Companies

December 8, 2014  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured, metadata

Access Innovations, Inc., a leader in digital data organization, is proud to announce its inclusion for the fourth time on EContent magazine’s annual list of the top 100 companies in the digital content industry in the category of SEO and Search Analytics.

“This year we had three new judges and lots of new companies to consider. We also included a new category: Big Data. These days, data is the driving force behind almost everything on the web. From the targeted ads you see while surfing your favorite sites, to the articles and videos that those sites serve up to you, data is behind it all,” remarked Theresa Cramer, editor of EContent Magazine. “Congratulations to all of the companies on this year’s EContent 100 List and kudos on all they contribute to the digital content industry.”

Jay Ven Eman, CEO of Access Innovations, said he is honored by the distinction. “We appreciate winning a spot on the EContent list,” commented Ven Eman. “Access Innovations is dedicated to continuously improving and expanding the software and services we offer. Recognition like this is quite rewarding.”

“We enjoy pushing the envelope in many areas of digital content,” added Marjorie M.K. Hlava, president of Access Innovations. “The emergence of Big Data has made vocabulary control increasingly vital for effective data mining, and we’re placing a special emphasis on disambiguation of sources, such as authors and affiliations, for distinctly improved search retrieval. Our company has always done new things, and we will continue to evolve, so we can meet the challenges that our clients face in our ever-evolving information universe.”

EContent magazine’s annual list of top 100 companies that matter most in the digital industry was compiled by an independent panel of industry insiders. Unlike many other trade lists, inclusion is not purchased and is at the sole discretion of the judging panel. For a full list of the top 100 companies that matter most in the digital content industry, click here.

About Access Innovations, Inc. – www.accessinn.com, www.dataharmony.com, www.taxodiary.com

Founded in 1978, Access Innovations has extensive experience with Internet technology applications, master data management, database creation, thesaurus/taxonomy creation, and semantic integration. Access Innovations’ Data Harmony software includes automatic indexing, thesaurus management, an XML Intranet System (XIS), and metadata extraction for content creation developed to meet production environment needs. Data Harmony is used by publishers, governments, and corporate clients throughout the world.

About EContentwww.econtentmag.com

EContent is a leading authority on the businesses of digital publishing, media, and marketing—targeting executives and decision-makers in these fast-changing markets. By covering the latest tools, strategies, and thought leaders in the digital content ecosystem, EContentmagazine and Econtentmag.com keep professionals ahead of the curve in order to maximize their investment in digital content strategies while building sustainable, profitable business models.

Passive Searching for KM Taxonomy Resources

December 1, 2014  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured, search

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” (Michael Althsuler)

In past blogs we’ve already looked at several ways to actively search the open web for taxonomy, thesaurus, and ontology resources. Today we’ll consider a few tools that enable passive – “set it and forget it” – searching. In these passive search methods, the searching doesn’t require the user’s continuous and direct attention. This search strategy allows you to turn your attention elsewhere while the tool trawls the web for content that is of interest to you. Let’s consider…

o   Alerts

o   RSS feeds

o   Customized dashboards

o   TOC services

ALERTS

You may set alerts in Google, for instance, that allow you to determine your own search criteria as if you were conducting an active search. You can take advantage of truncation, using wildcards, and Boolean operators, as well as other search features usually found under “advanced” search.

http://www.google.com/alerts

fbalert

Noticeable in the screenshot above are several preset “suggested” categories. However, you’ll want to customize your alerts in order to fit your personal interests. To avoid drinking directly and continually from the information fire hose, you can enable your alerts to flow into your e-mail inbox at the following frequencies available through the drop down menu: “As-it-happens,” “At most once a day,”or  “At most once a week.”

The following settings menu appears once you’ve entered your search terms.

km

Below this menu you will also see a helpful “Alert preview” that shows you a sampling of search engine results. Before actually hitting the blue “CREATE ALERT” button, you can tweak your search string for better accuracy. Watch the sample search results change as you experiment with different search terms and search term word order.

Additionally, the searcher can limit or expand his search pool(s) to the following sources: Automatic, News, Blogs, Web, Video, Books, or Discussions. The user can also refine searches in order to monitor by language, or region, or even limit to “best results.” You can then have the search results sent to the e-mail address that you assign.

RSS FEEDS

To avoid flooding your inbox, you might be interested in RSS (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication). Subscribing to a website RSS will remove your need to manually check the web site for new content. Through RSS, you’ll be automatically alerted to updates at the site.

When you have discovered sites and pages that interest you, check whether or not the site offers an RSS feed. Look for the following symbol or icon at the site.

rss

Feed readers can be web-based, desktop-based, or mobile-device-based. You’ll need to find one that is compatible with your browser or your operating system (Windows, Mac, or Linux). Some browsers, such as the current versions of Firefox and Safari, have built-in RSS readers. If you’re using a browser that doesn’t currently support RSS, consider using one of the many RSS news readers available for download from the Internet. Lists exist here and here.

If you desire to manage all of your feeds from single place, you may wish to consider https://www.feedmyinbox.com/

Here is an example of an RSS subscribe invitation at TaxoDiary.

taxod

Although each RSS reader has its own way of adding a new feed, try clicking on the link or small XML button near the feed you want. You’ll see a page displaying XML code. For example, clicking on the RSS symbol in the example above results in the following display choices.

taxod2

From your web browser’s address bar, copy the URL. Sometimes it is necessary to paste that URL into the “Add New Channel” section of the reader. The user would need to click the “View Feed XML” (the last tab on the bottom right of the screenshot above). After the feed XML source has been entered into your reader, the feed will then start to display content and regularly update the headlines for you.

CUSTOMIZABLE DASHBOARDS

An example of a passive searching technique that empowers personalization is www.netvibes.com

netvb

Once you create a free personal account, you are able to monitor web content by means of tailored dashboards. There is great flexibility in choosing various displays for your dashboards. Since the searcher decides when to log in and check the dashboards, such alerts are non-intrusive and under the complete control of the dashboard creator.

Still another way to avoid cluttering your e-mail inbox is the use of TOC services.

TOCs

A common complaint among professionals is that while they have the desire to stay current in their field of work or study, various constraints constantly thwart that desire. Either they are incapable of purchasing all of the different peer-reviewed professional journals that apply to their field, or they cannot set aside the time to read them.

A table of contents (TOC) alerting service can bring to you the most recent articles and titles in the subject or topic of your choice. By regularly perusing TOCs and abstracts, the taxonomist or knowledge manager is better able to recognize emerging terms for concepts on the basis of literary or industry warrant. Scan up-to-date, freshly published scholarly resources by browsing, viewing, saving, and searching across thousands of journal tables of contents from hundreds of publishers. Cost-free registration allows you to create a customized list of your most important and favorite journals.

Give the JournalTOCs TOC alert service (http://www.journaltocs.ac.uk/) a try, and follow your journals by title, subject, or publisher.

jrntoc

Some publishers and libraries have their own TOC services to alert you to new publications and additions to their libraries. Springer Publishing offers another example of this passive search technique. Springer’s alphabetized list of 2,200 journals is found here.

Some web sources that you may wish to track do not offer convenient RSS feeds. However, the following work-arounds will help you stay current with changes at the site(s).

http://page2rss.com/

http://www.watchthatpage.com/

http://www.changealarm.com/

http://www.changedetection.com/

If it’s imperative that you keep up with important product updates, another alternative is http://www.copernic.com/en/products/tracker/. This Internet monitoring software is designed for everyone from home users to competitive intelligence researchers.

copern

The implementation of these passive search approaches may also assist you in the discovery of the knowledge management taxonomy resources that you require.

Eric Ziecker, Information Consultant
Access Innovations

Additional Active Searching Techniques for Taxonomy Resources

November 24, 2014  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured, Taxonomy

To continue our theme from last time: “For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned” (Unknown).

This quotation helps us remember the importance of developing online search techniques that will help you “save” time (or, at least allocate your time wisely!). Previously, we looked at keyword searching on the open web and in full-text search environments. Today, let’s consider another active search technique. This one takes advantage of online website directories.

There are a few free, quality, online directories. “Quality” and “free” are not mutually exclusive terms. Current and curated directories are useful for bringing in specific and targeted user traffic. Unlike a keyword search, directories allow the searcher to browse general subjects until he or she is ready to drill down to a very specific classification, category, or topic. Finding a “good” directory is not entirely subjective. Objectively, “good” directories are governed by the goal to offer only trustworthy and timely listings. The listings in a quality directory have been pre-evaluated, or vetted, by a human curator or editor.

It is necessary to think categorically when looking for taxonomy, thesaurus, or ontology resources. When it comes to “taxonomy management” or “thesaurus management,” you will want to first look at the top level terms and categories of the directory. In searches for taxonomy resources within a directory, the following pattern is observable at both http://www.dmoz.org/ and www.bestoftheweb.com.

webdir

At both of these directory locations, drill down by clicking the “reference” path. Underneath “reference”, look for “knowledge management.” Since taxonomies assist in “knowledge discovery” (as in navigation), the searcher might discover something of use there. Otherwise, “knowledge representation” or “knowledge retrieval” may be the searcher’s next tab(s) of choice. “Classification” is sometimes a useful subcategory to explore, also. Although “classification” may refer to a physical location (as in book item or number), it sometimes overlaps with the ordering of terms that describe concepts of information resources. For example, as you scroll down the 29 entries at http://www.dmoz.org/Reference/Libraries/Library_and_Information_Science/Technical_Services/Cataloguing/Classification/ you’ll notice some taxonomy entries near the bottom of the alphabetized list (see the red underlining in the screenshot below).

class2

Interestingly, each directory has its own categories and may take a variety of approaches and strategies to hit your target (if the directory even contains your target!).

Another directory you might try is http://dir.yahoo.com/ But notice the different sequence and thought process in order to find your resource(s). Here is the search string, or permutation, in order to arrive at “Knowledge Management.”

Directory > Business and Economy > Business to Business > Management > Knowledge Management

Earlier on in the string, the searcher could have also detoured after Directory > Business and Economy > Business to Business > Information > and also found pertinent resources for information or knowledge. So, in this case, your primary directory top term was not reference but business and economy.

You might also consider some of the following directory resources; http://www.refdesk.com/toc.html. As you scroll down the page, look for “Refdesk Subject Categories” located in the final portion of the middle column.

refdesk

The Internet public library offers both a search window and a subject directory. See http://www.ipl.org/div/subject/ or http://www.ipl.org/div/about/sitemap.html 

The WWW Virtual Library can be found at http://vlib.org/. Click on Information and Libraries to yield the following categories of interest for knowledge and information management:
112414

lts is http://www.e-journals.org/ A simple search of taxonomy management yielded 244 results. Try some variations like business taxonomy for additional results.

doa

 

Another resource to try is http://www.exactseek.com/

adfgasa

The serendipity that results from browsing often yields better results than keyword searching. For example, notice the rich resources located at http://www.brint.com/km/

aerhzmm

At the same site, you’ll find various portals down the rightmost column at http://www.brint.com/km/#definition

supply

 

Toying slightly with different search term combinations will provide various results that are still within your desired search parameters. For example, try searching business taxonomy or project taxonomy or operative taxonomy. Other resources to explore include http://www.best-web-directories.com/free-directories.htm and http://www.controlledvocabulary.com/links.html.

[Although several paid directories exist, they are outside the scope of this blog.]

Next time we’ll consider some passive search strategies in order to find taxonomy, thesaurus, or ontology resources.

Eric Ziecker, Information Consultant
Access Innovations

 

 

Access Innovations Delivers Thesaurus for AAAS

November 17, 2014  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured

Access Innovations, Inc. is pleased to announce the delivery of an extensive thesaurus for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Data Harmony With a Century of Content

               In the summer of 2013, AAAS, the publisher of Science Magazine and various specialty journals (such as Science Signaling and Science Translational Medicine), contacted Access Innovations, Inc. regarding a thesaurus project to index and tag their data using Access Innovations’ patented, award-winning Data Harmony software. Because the publications represent the entire spectrum of science, this presented a unique challenge to Access Innovations. “The taxonomy needed to address all areas with a great degree of specificity to improve discovery for AAAS users,” remarked Bob Kasenchak, Project Coordinator for Access Innovations.

Formed in 1848, AAAS has content dating back to the 1880s. Since then, scientific language and terminology have undergone significant changes. With a database of 250,000 articles spanning 120 years of science, it is crucial for AAAS to implement granular topical indexing and provide a mechanism for browsing the full corpus of electronic content. The implementation of Data Harmony will greatly improve the accuracy of the free text searches used on the AAAS website.

A Cooperative Effort

Access Innovations has now delivered the thesaurus and continues to streamline content for AAAS. Due to the extremely broad range of topics in their content, AAAS has access to an unusual number of in-house subject matter experts (SMEs). Access Innovations worked in close conjunction with the SMEs to review and refine the thesaurus. Will Schweitzer, Business Director of AAAS, notes, “We’re excited to use our new thesaurus throughout all our platforms and products. We’ll first use the thesaurus to make our peer-review processes more efficient and to improve our readers’ browsing and search experience.”

As AAAS begins leveraging the thesaurus for website navigation, Access Innovations continues to refine the index and manage the taxonomy.

 

About Access Innovations, Inc. – www.accessinn.com, www.dataharmony.com, www.taxodiary.com

Access Innovations has extensive experience with Internet technology applications, master data management, content-aware database creation, thesaurus/taxonomy creation, and semantic integration. Access Innovations’ Data Harmony software includes machine aided indexing, thesaurus management, an XML Intranet System (XIS), and metadata extraction for content creation developed to meet production environment needs. Data Harmony is used by publishers, governments, and corporate clients throughout the world. Access Innovations: changing search to found since 1978.

The Use of Data in Election Cycles

Election Day has once again come and gone. Incumbents are ousted, bills are passed, and the political ads have finally stopped, so now the fallout begins. But regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, there’s one thing you can be sure of: lobbying groups and political campaigns have utilized Big Data to try to secure your vote and will place an increasing amount of importance on it. On a smaller level, data analysis has been happening in this realm for years, but really, it became huge during President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.

During that campaign, Obama’s team assembled a huge staff of analysts to work with the terabytes of collected voter data. The results of their analytics included a number of strategies to target specific constituents and disseminate information and donation requests to them based on exactly the issues that matter most to them. For the voter, that not only reduces the noise in their emails, it personalizes the election and, as we’ve seen plenty of times through the years, people tend to vote for someone to whom they feel a personal connection.

People felt that connection to Obama in 2008 through his particular personality and brand of speaking; while none of that changed much over the following four years, 2012 saw him reach audiences through the use of data, as well.

As much as Big Data is being used by American politicians, they aren’t the leaders in it. In India’s elections earlier this year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) used their mountains of data to secure funds, advertise, and organize events directed toward, again, putting a personal face on the election. BJP leader Narendra Modi is now India’s prime minister and has reached out to the world using the same strategies. His six million Twitter followers would suggest that they work.

Then we have the BBC. We’ve already seen their innovative uses of Big Data and Linked Data for BBC Nature and the 2012 Olympics, but for the UK elections this past May, they devised a system by which they could aggregate their data and disseminate news and information in sophisticated, highly useful ways. In this case, it’s more about analysis to serve their own reporting, but the way richness with which they were able to deliver the news to their readers and viewers was nothing short of fantastic.

These are three strong examples of how Big Data, Linked Data, and semantic enrichment are changing the way election campaigns are conducted and covered for the better, but all three are top-down processes. By that, I mean that in all these cases, we are being directed to look at or think about particular subjects and issues. But in this increasingly interconnected online world, I’m not the only person who would rather direct myself, to tell myself what issues are important to me.

In their Olympics coverage, they proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Linked Data can be effectively used to make knowledge easy to access for the individual. You might recognize all the members of the gold-medal winning women’s gymnastic team; we couldn’t hear enough about them during the event. What about the Russian team that won the silver though? We don’t hear much about them, but going to the BBC website would not only tell you their names, but where they’re from, what other events they’ve competed in, and much, much more. Elections are far more important than the Olympics, so why not do the exact same thing with candidates?

We know what the ballot will look like well in advance. All that would have to happen to get this process started is to lay that out on a publicly accessible website. Each candidate would have a link attached that would take the viewer to a page for the individual. From there, we could see the voting history of candidate X, other candidates who voted alongside her, links to campaign speeches, writings, and news reports on the person, as well, most likely, as many things that I can’t think up right now.

We could do the same thing with ballot measures with little additional trouble. For these, we could look at a particular measure’s history, others like it voted on previously or in other regions, reporting on it, and all sorts of statistics.

All of this is in the service of information and knowledge, which helps us as voters make more reasoned, coherent decisions. We are being monitored constantly in service of directed advertising, whether it’s in the political spectrum or elsewhere. On a personal level, I don’t really care about that, but there’s no good reason why we couldn’t have access to candidate data in an easily digestible form. The information is out there, but it’s a lot of labor for individuals to take on by ourselves. I hope the day soon comes when I’ll be able to go to a single place and learn what I need so that I make the best possible decisions while in the voting booth.

Obviously, I’m hugely impressed with how the BBC has embraced this new philosophy about they way they deliver their content. They’ve made it easy for individuals to collect knowledge in all kinds of realms. Now, they don’t have what I’m looking for, either, but between the Olympic Data Service and Vote 2014, it’s clear they have both the mindset and capability to make it happen. When will media outlets on this side of the pond follow suit? Quickly, I hope.

Daryl Loomis
Access Innovations

Semantics, Linked Data, and the Future of Academic Publishing

November 3, 2014  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured, semantic

The rules for academic publishing really haven’t changed in centuries. Once, there was a large percentage of the populace who were skeptical of academic research, as was apparent when Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society began its publication life in 1665. To make the system work against that pushback, the method had to be codified. As a result, access to research material was difficult to attain, to the extent that scientists as late as the 19th century actively condoned criminal behavior just to have access to corpses for study and presentation.

It took a while, but given the advances that made everyone’s life better, people eventually put more trust in scientific research, so the bodies could stay resting in the ground and scientists could do their research in relative peace. Even so, publishing was still expensive and research material hard to find. In order to facilitate and disseminate the research, then, academic publishing took on a model that made it look much like a guild system, with all the benefits for those inside and all the roadblocks for the rest.

It made sense in those days, but it seems like advances in science and technology, as well as our general faith in the goodness of those things, would have opened research material availability. However, the reality is that, at best, the system has stayed the same, even with the rise of computers, which makes publishing fast and inexpensive. Even though it’s supposed to be about the science, it has become increasingly about the revenue.

As a result, the cost of a particular journal can run into the thousands of dollars and, as everywhere else today, organizational budgets for libraries have shrunk to the point that they are having to make hard decisions about which journals to cut out of their subscription loop. That’s plain sad, because, again, it’s supposed to be about the science.

Happily, though, we are in a particularly interesting place in history, in which our use of computer technology has become so sophisticated that it makes the old system appear rather silly. As individuals, we can go online and find mountains of content on any subject of interest, teach ourselves to do virtually anything, and make sense of things that people only a generation ago hadn’t the tools to even begin.

If it’s that easy for us, shouldn’t the path also be made clear for academics, scientists, and researchers, who are the ones advancing the fields that allow us as individuals to collect so much knowledge and information? Now, there are obvious considerations to keep in mind. First, and most importantly, it’s absolutely cost-prohibitive for individuals in general to access that material, same as it is for the researcher. That’s why they affiliate with budgeted organizations that can collect and store them for use. That’s great, but organizations can’t pay the prices—as much as $40,000 for a single year of a top journal—that the publishers charge, not for all of them that they might want or need, at least.

The model has to change, and that appears to be happening as I write. Organizations like the Public Library of Science (PLOS) are in full support of open access to scientific research, while the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is actively engaged in creating what they’re calling the Semantic Web, a new way to look at the Internet, one that focuses on data in general rather than simply documents. This view puts entities (people, places, and things) in relationship to one another. By linking with one or many of existing datasets out there (DBpedia or Wikidata, for instance), one can access related content from around the web, while your data is added to the pile for others to access.

The greater the number of participating organizations, the better this is going to work. But I firmly believe that once people see the wealth of possibilities inherent in such a venture, their eyes will be opened to possibilities I can’t even imagine. Just look at what the BBC did with Linked Data for their coverage of the Olympics or the BBC Nature website. This stuff is absolutely amazing. BBC Nature, especially, thrills me. The deluge of information you return on a simple search for “koala” makes me want to learn everything I can about the little guys. How could anybody not want access like this?

You can’t put the genie back in the bottle, so as individuals and organizations get used to working in the Semantic Web, with all the access to information that comes with it, they’ll start to demand it everywhere. To publishers, the most important thing is always going to be the bottom line. There’s no real way to change that, except to drag them kicking and screaming into this brave new world of information exchange.

Daryl Loomis
Access Innovations

Taxonomy of Horrors

October 31, 2014  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured, Taxonomy

One of the biggest questions floating around every year in October is this: “What movies will you watch this month?”—or some derivative of that. All the major networks play their own hand-picked list of 25-50 “horror” movies all month long. Farms open their doors to a public that can roam around haunted barns and mazes; even the malls host their very own haunted houses (generally not advised for children). Many of these attractions are partly or fully inspired by horror films that over the generations have become staples every October.

So, what movies are you watching this month? Are you a fan of the black and white films with beautiful stars and horrible creatures? Or perhaps your taste is more modern, going for the iconic slashers from the 1980s and 1990s. Do you get more of a thrill from the horror movies that make you re-evaluate everything you thought you knew?

In the event that instead of being curled up on your couch, you and your friends are sharing the horror experience with a room full of strangers, how do you decide which films to spend your money on?

If you need some advice this Halloween, our Taxonomy of Horrors might be just the thing.

How do you choose what movies to watch with your friends late at night, curled up on the couch with a handful of popcorn stretched halfway to your open mouth? The list of horror films grows constantly, and it seems every October, new films are released into the wild jungle of the movie theaters.  Our Horror Film Aficionados have exhaustively included everything scary under the sun (though not including the sun, sorry for all you solarphobes).

HorrorTaxo1-Crop

Maybe where the horror takes place is something that grabs you. Remote lakes or foggy forests after midnight are popular stages for terror and mystery—and of course, the abandoned cabin in the middle of the forest, sitting next to a lake is the ultimate spot for devious deeds. Old homes with history attached, basements below, and attics above should not be overlooked, either.

HorrorTaxo3-Crop

What creature scares you most? The person that cannot gaze upon a full moon without growing hair and ferocious canine claws surely raises the hair on the back of some people’s necks, and yet others find that the monsters of reality bring on the true fear. The psychopath that kills because of his troubled past or out of a twisted sense of morality forces some people to bolt the door and sleep with the lights on, and others still will cover their eyes when ghosts make a subtle appearance in the corner of the television screen.

horrrr

 

Horror films come in all flavors—and levels of blood and gore—and it’s impossible to say which type will scare a person the most. Perhaps though, true horror is not always necessary. Perhaps revisiting films that scared us as children or that we even find funny is the goal. After all, Halloween should be about respecting our darker sides and enjoying our time with friends and family.

Oh, and eating tons of candy. Tons. Happy Halloween!

Daryl Loomis and Samantha Lewis
Access Innovations

Registration Now Open for the 11th Annual Data Harmony Users Group Meeting

October 27, 2014  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured

Registration is now open for the 11th annual Data Harmony Users Group (DHUG) meeting, scheduled for February 16-20, 2015 at the Access Innovations, Inc. offices at 4725 Indian School Road Northeast, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Access Innovations, the developer and seller of the Data Harmony product line, is hosting the meeting. Several new features and options will be unveiled during the Annual Features Update report, including an introduction to the new graphical user interface (GUI).

A full day of training on building taxonomies is included on Monday, February 16, 2015. The Annual Features Update report will be presented by Access Innovations President Marjorie M.K. Hlava on Tuesday morning from 9:00 a.m. to noon. On Tuesday afternoon and on Wednesday, Data Harmony users will present case studies detailing their implementations of the software. Two full days of hands-on software training sessions led by Access Innovations and Data Harmony staff members are scheduled for Thursday, February 19, and Friday, February 20.

The meeting also includes a Monday evening networking reception and a networking dinner on Tuesday evening. The Tuesday evening dinner will be held at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, a museum and educational center dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Pueblo culture and to advancing understanding, by presenting, with dignity and respect, the accomplishments and evolving history of the Pueblo people of New Mexico.

By hosting the meeting at the Access Innovations home office, the entire staff will be able to participate in discussions. “Each year, this meeting provides our members an opportunity to share ideas and address issues and methodologies with colleagues,” said Ms. Hlava. “We enjoy talking with our clients and finding out what items are on their wish lists for future software developments, and the new releases reflect those requests.”

Also, members have the opportunity to discuss technical and tactical issues with Access Innovations staff in person. “Just by sitting down together, we can work through key issues quickly and to everyone’s benefit,” said Bob Kasenchak, Production Coordinator at Access Innovations. “Even little questions that come up during these discussions can get resolved – questions that don’t seem important enough to bring up during conference calls or in email correspondence.”

To register for the meeting, go to www.dataharmony.com/dhug/regform/.

For information about planning a trip to Albuquerque for the meeting, go to www.dataharmony.com/dhug/dhugtripplanning/.

To see the provisional agenda, go to www.dataharmony.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Agenda-2015.pdf.

Active Searching for Taxonomy Resources

October 20, 2014  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured, search

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” So muses American businessman Harvey MacKay.

We have no choice in the matter. Time cannot be “saved” …only spent. Our responsibility is to determine how we wish to allocate it. Otherwise, time will not only be spent but also wasted. How valuable, then, are those skills and tools that help us distribute our time in ways that we consider most useful and productive!

Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan proposed the fourth law of library science to be: “Save the time of the reader.” Fast and accurate retrieval of relevant information is one of the fundamental arguments in favor of enterprise taxonomy development and usage. Let’s consider someactive search strategies that will help you avoid tail-chasing and wearying labyrinths when searching for project taxonomy resources to assist you in your knowledge management.

Let’s first explore some active search strategies. If you have ever conducted a keyword search on the open web for online taxonomy resources, you may have had some difficulty hitting your target. After simply typing the keyword word “taxonomy” or “taxonomies” or “thesaurus” or “thesauri” into your favorite search engine window, you may have obtained less than satisfactory results. How many of your results were even remotely related to information structures, knowledge organization, or contextualized concepts organized by term?

How can you get better search results in less time?

  • Consider using operators and/or advanced search techniques
  • Isolate exact search phrases for use in full-text searches
  • Once you’ve found a good online resource, take one additional step to find similar results

Each of these three tactics is discussed below.

1. If your favorite search engine allows for operators, try enabling operators under “advanced search settings.” Operators may refer to common Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) or may contain different symbols for the same function as Boolean operators. Familiarize yourself with your particular engine’s operators and vernacular. In Google, for example, go to the “Settings” link located at the bottom right of your Google search page (open on the Explorer or Firefox browser). From the drop-down menu (or pop-up menu in this case), choose “Advanced search.” Scroll down to the entry at the left that reads “Use operators in the search box.” search1

Explore this page’s many options. A little time invested here typically yields large dividends in your future searches. You may also decide to use the advanced search boxes or choose to use the Boolean shortcuts like OR, – (NOT), AND. You may also truncate words or employ wildcards using the asterisk *. An additional descriptor, like “business,” “knowledge management” or “project” added to “taxonomy” will better identify your target.

The time you take to carefully construct your search query will help “prefilter” your results and increase their relevance. Your searching will begin to look more like this:

(KM taxonom* OR enterprise taxonom* OR business taxonom* OR project taxonom* or corporate taxonom*) AND (manag* OR software)

2. In order to trim down the number of results, try the strategy of isolating exact phrases for full-text searching with quotation marks (“”). Your search queries will begin to look more like this:

(“project taxonomy” OR “enterprise taxonomy” OR “corporate taxonomy”)

Although it is possible to conduct the same searches in the “advanced search” option of most search engines, why not “save time” by learning a few of these shortcuts and experimenting with them?

3. Once you’ve discovered a resource or webpage that contains relevant content, try utilizing a few related searches that will expand similar useful and relevant results. In Google, for instance, you can type: info: (followed immediately by the web address – the Uniform or Universal Resource Locator (URL). Here’s an example of what you might type into the search box window if you liked what you saw at www.taxonomystrategies.com.

google22

After you receive your results, look to the bottom of the page for increased options such as these:

results

Consider another example. If you were pleased with what you found at www.taxobank.org, then try typing:

googtaxobank

Type the following terms into your search box window, and note the differences and nuances of the results rendered: (NOTE: Leave no space(s) between letter(s) that border the colon. Cf. the example above.)

Info: (Cut and paste the URL from the relevant site here.)

Related: (Cut and paste the URL from the relevant site here.)

Link: (Cut and paste the URL from the relevant site here.)

You might also try typing the URL into www.similarsites.com. (Beware; many of the “results” here are interspersed with ads!)

In the next post in this series, we will consider additional active search strategies to assist you in using time wisely to ferret out resources for your taxonomy needs.

Eric Ziecker, Information Consultant
Access Innovations, Inc.

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