Who’s the Boss?

March 26, 2014  
Posted in News, reference

In case you haven’t read the press release that came out last week from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the title should give you reason for pause: “NTIA Announces Intent to Transition Key Internet Domain Name Functions.”

Many are alarmed at the thought of giving control away of something the United States invented and does well. Is this happening because of the National Security Agency (NSA) metadata kerfuffle? Is there some guilt involved in the media storm in response to the espionage use of the Internet?

Anyone who reads the news on a consistent basis and takes time to research and learn more about various topics realizes that what we are given in the form of “news” is often good public relations spun to guide our beliefs and voting practices in certain directions. With the use of the Internet, we can learn on our own, hear both sides of the stories, and discern our own beliefs and convictions. But will that remain true if someone else is in control?

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.

Information Architecture Librarian Position Available

March 13, 2014  
Posted in News, reference

We are always excited to share with our readers career opportunities in the world of taxonomy, indexing, and even semantic technology. Even if you aren’t in the market for a career move, it is always good to stay on top of what is available and how your field of choice is evolving.

ASRC Primus Solutions, Inc. is currently seeking an Information Architecture Librarian in Washington, D.C. This type of job isn’t posted often, as you know. The focus of this position is to provide support for information architecture, user experience, and web usability projects. The librarian will serve on a team that provides support for the client in the areas of creating content inventories, maintaining web pages, compiling and analyzing web metrics, and providing guidance to the client group for the assignment of appropriate metadata to its web content.

If you are in the middle of hunting for a job, best of luck in your endeavors.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in taxonomies, metadata, and semantic enrichment to make your content findable.

The Wide World of Vocabulary

February 25, 2014  
Posted in News, reference

The average English-language speaker knows between 25,000 and 40,000 words, according to Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Chief Editor Michael Proffitt, who recently appeared on CNN’s Amanpour interview show, hosted by Christiane Amanpour. The Oxford English Dictionary bills itself as the “definitive record of the English language.” To date, they have recorded 800,000 words and counting. This extremely interesting information came from CNN’s article “Thought you had a big vocabulary? Think again.”

“Even people who are doing 40,000, at the highest end, it’s about five percent of what we’ve got in the OED,” he said. “And that’s not all the words in the language.”

Proffitt is new to the OED and faces the challenges that comes with texting, tweeting, and other social media workarounds. You have to wonder how they plan to stay relevant. Proffitt doesn’t seem to be worried.

“It was one of the first reference works available on CD-ROM,” he said. “And then it was also one of the first reference works available online, in 2000.”

Words or terms you think are new or new-ish can be dated back to another century. For example, “omg” – an acronym-ish we think dates all the way back to the 80′s and valley girls – really had its first known usage in a 1917 letter written by a British admiral to none other than Winston Churchill.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.

Capturing Cultural References

February 18, 2014  
Posted in metadata, News, reference

Webster’s move over, the Urban Dictionary is quickly becoming the “go to” source for those trying to keep up with cultural and current terminology. Their existence on the Web allows them to be the anthropologist capturing cultural moments in real time. This interesting news came from The New York Times in their syndicated article, “Urban Dictionary tracks language of the Internet.”

The site is a crowdsourced online dictionary that lets anyone contribute words and definitions. It was started in 1999 by a college freshman. Since that time, more than 7 million definitions of words, acronyms and phrases have been listed on the site, with 2,000 more definitions added daily. Not only has the content grown, but the site’s audience has grown steadily from 6 million in November 2010 to a whopping 8.4 million in October 2013.

The Urban Dictionary reflects the fast pace of the Internet. With traditional dictionaries, it can take months or even years for new words and terms to be granted entry. The World Wide Web waits on no one. This brings up the question of filters, but that is for another time and another article.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.

Language Comes into the Future

January 27, 2014  
Posted in News, reference, Technology

The Oxford English Dictionary is progressing towards a third edition with over 619,000 words compiled between its binding. To compile a dictionary of nearly every word in the English language was an endeavor typical of Victorian times. This mammoth-sized task resulted in the first installment emerging in 1884 with its contents “A to Ant.”

The trusty dictionary now has a new chief editor, Michael Proffitt, who assumes the responsibility of retaining the vaunted traditions while ensuring relevance in an era of Googled definitions and text talk. This very interesting topic was brought to us by The New York Times and their article, “Language by the Book, but the Book Is Evolving.”

In a recent interview with the new chief editor, he shared that he believes a dictionary’s time has come, despite many people’s view that it is no longer needed with technology, real-time communication, and social media. He defended that statement with another, “People need filters much more than they did in the past.”

Truer words have never been spoken, or tweeted, or texted, or…

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.

Mapping the Stars

December 30, 2013  
Posted in indexing, News, reference, Technology

Floating around the Milky Way galaxy is the most recent space observatory launched by the European Space Agency (ESA). Gaia will monitor each of its target stars about 70 times over a period of five years – all unmanned.

The mission aims to compile a 3D space catalog of approximately one billion astronomical objects (approximately 1% of the Milky Way population). Gaia will create a precise three-dimensional map of stars throughout the Milky Way Galaxy and map their motions, which encode the origin and subsequent evolution of the Milky Way.

This interesting news was everywhere, but the article, “Gaia spacecraft set for launch on mission to map a billion stars“, in The Guardian brought this to our attention. After years of preparation, this “star census worker” will spend five years preparing the digital map. “It’s going to be the most accurate and the most detailed 3D map of stars there has ever been,” said Dr. Ralph Cordey, head of science at Astrium UK, a company involved in the building of the spacecraft.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.

The Ghost of Research Past

December 9, 2013  
Posted in Access Insights, Featured, reference


















“Leave me! Take me back. Haunt me no longer!”

In the struggle, if that can be called a struggle in which the Ghost with no visible resistance on its own part was undisturbed by any effort of its adversary, Scrooge observed that its light was burning high and bright; and dimly connecting that with its influence over him, he seized the extinguisher-cap, and by a sudden action pressed it down upon its head.

The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the extinguisher covered its whole form; but though Scrooge pressed it down with all his force, he could not hide the light: which streamed from under it, in an unbroken flood upon the ground

There are a good many professional organizations that take their knowledge organization and dissemination responsibilities seriously. One good example, appropriately enough, is the International Society for Knowledge Organization (ISKO), which maintains a free online bibliographic service covering knowledge organization literature.

According to a recent communication from the organization, the ISKO literature database has been enhanced to cover nine more years into the past. This extension to include older research involved complex analysis and conversion of data that was in old formats. In explaining why ISKO made this effort and went to all this trouble, webmaster Claudio Gnoli explained as follows:

“We hope that this service can contribute to strengthen knowledge organization as a full, consistent scientific field. Let us encourage students and researchers to start their work by looking at what has been published in the past.”

That last sentence merits some reflection. It might seem obvious that previously published research would be a logical starting point for subsequent research on the same topic, or on a similar one. So why would students and researchers need encouragement to start there?

One reason could be that they are bombarded with current research. This could be research from recently set-up online platforms, research by their networks of current colleagues, and RSS feeds on hot topics in their fields. While keeping up with current research certainly is commendable, overrating it could lead to a telescoped view of the relevance of prior research, even when that research was published within the researcher’s lifetime. For a young field such as information science, while the amount of research material is expanding rapidly, the foundations may have been established within the last few decades. And they may still be worth mining.

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.”

“Long Past?” inquired Scrooge: observant of its dwarfish stature.

“No. Your past.”

Another reason for ignoring past research is intentional rejection of older observations, purely for the sake of adhering to a “modern” approach to research and description. (This, IMHO, is a major failing of many post-modernist practitioners, who consciously and deliberately ignore history and historical accounts.)

“What!” exclaimed the Ghost, “would you so soon put out, with worldly hands, the light I give?

Another possible reason that researchers ignore old research is that when they have tried to access it, they haven’t been able to. Not all professional organizations have expanded their databases backwards in time. Sometimes the organizations face obstacles, sometimes huge but generally surmountable. As we’ve seen with ISKO, the expansion can involve dealing with old formats, which might be a one-time technical issue (at least until the next major change in formatting). And then there may be overall budget and time limitations, especially with organizations that rely heavily on volunteer staff. Additionally, the shifting terminology of some research fields can cloud the search for past sources of illumination.

These obstacles are surmountable, but they require attention from those who maintain the research databases. Formats can be converted. And thesauri can accommodate older terminology, while offering flexibility to accommodate future terminology. Likewise, future guardians of research databases will need to pay the same kind of attention to these kinds of matters, so that current research is available to those who, like Scrooge, may discover valuable information that otherwise might have remained hidden.

“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!” Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. “The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.”

Barbara Gilles, Taxonomist
Access Innovations

How is your qi?

November 6, 2013  
Posted in News, reference

Is qi a word? According to Word with Friends, yes. It is reported to be another spelling for chi, which is defined as natural energy or life force. For hardcore Scrabble-ites, this can sometimes be a hard pillow to swallow. The purists resist words that are popular for those hard-to-use letters like q and z.

This article from BBC News caught our attention, as many of those kinds of words were on the finale board of the British  National Scrabble Championship. “Weird short words in Scrabble finale,” provided a translation of the twelve most obscure words on that board. Making the list were words like:

  • Coniines: Alkaloid that makes up the poisonous part of hemlock. That double ii could come in handy.
  • Enew: (Hawk) Falconry term for driving a bird into the water. Nice add-on opportunity.
  • Litu: Plural of Litas, a former silver coin and monetary unit of Lithuania. U’s can pose a challenge without a q, so this could help.

I am an avid Scrabble and Word with Friends fan. However, I am not a snob. Use qi all you want, I say.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.

Spelling Bee Superstars

November 1, 2013  
Posted in News, reference, Standards

I have a confession to make. Your content writer is a spelling bee geek. When I was a child, my father would hold spelling bees with my sister and I, and well, I always won. Not to brag, but really to show the benefits of phonetics. My older sister did not go to kindergarten (I have no memory of why), but kindergarten is where phonetics were taught in the 1960s. I was taught to sound the words out and that there, my friends, was my secret weapon.

I still remember 4th grade and Mrs. Stephens. I didn’t like her before the spelling bee and I liked her less afterwards. I don’t think she liked me much either. I spelled the word correctly and she called it incorrect. I tried to be polite and insist that I did indeed say exactly what her favorite student said next and she declared correct, but it fell on deaf ears. Yes, I am still bitter.

When I found this story on the state spelling bee in Hawaii, I had to share. “Bust Out the Dictionary — It’s Spelling Bee Time,” shares the process and how the ultimate state winner will go to the 87th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. Good luck to all the participants and may there be no Mrs. Stephens in the judges.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.

UDC Seminar Scheduled for This Month

October 11, 2013  
Posted in News, reference

The next International Universal Decimal Classification (UDC) Seminar, “Classification & Visualization: Interfaces to Knowledge,” will take place on October 24-25, 2013 in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek at The Hague. This is the fourth in a series of International UDC Seminars devoted to advances in documentary classification research and their application in a networked environment.

This conference will focus on cutting edge advances and techniques in the visualization of knowledge across various fields of application, and their potential impact on developments in the more mainstream bibliographic and documentary classifications.

These biennial conferences are devoted to advances in documentary/bibliographic classification research and their application in a networked environment. The keynote at this year’s conference is W. Boyd Rayward, Professor Emeritus, from the University of Illinois. Professor Rayward’s address is titled, “From the index card to the World City: knowledge organization and visualization in the work and ideas of Paul Otlet.”

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.

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