Library Linked Data at ALA 2014

June 6th, 2014
by jodi

Linked Data is big at the 2014 American Library Association meeting! All day Friday & Saturday, plus Sunday morning, you can get your recommended dose of Library Linked Data. See you in Las Vegas?

Friday June 27
I’ll be speaking and moderating a question session in this full-day preconference.
Practical Linked Data with Open Source (separate ticket needed)
Friday, June 27, 2014 – 8:30am to 4:00pm
N258, Las Vegas Convention Center
This pre-conference combines theory and practice by giving participants a working knowledge of the creation and use of linked data and linked data applications. This session will ground participants in linked data models and patterns through hands-on exercises. Participants will go home with a working knowledge of the state of the art of linked data in open source library systems and the use of linked data to solve metadata problems across libraries, archives, and museums

Saturday June 28
I will be speaking about international developments in LLD in Part I:
International Developments in Library Linked Data: Think Globally, Act Globally (Part One)
Saturday, June 28, 2014 – 8:30am to 10:00am
N264, Las Vegas Convention Center

International Developments in Library Linked Data: Think Globally, Act Globally – Part Two
Saturday, June 28, 2014 – 10:30am to 11:30am
S230, Las Vegas Convention Center
Libraries have the potential to make major contributions to the Semantic Web, but are still emerging as global participants. RDA implementation and the BibFrame initiative have drawn fresh attention to the promise and potential of linked data. What are the international developments in linked data, emerging from libraries and other memory institutions? Come hear our speakers address current projects, opportunities and challenges.

Taking action: Linked data for digital collection managers
Saturday, June 28, 2014 – 1:00pm to 2:30pm
S222, Las Vegas Convention Center

The linked data movement has gained momentum. But how does paradigm shift affect digital collection workflows? This workshop will provide key theoretical concepts of linked data and engaging hands-on activities demonstrating how CONTENTdm metadata can be transformed into linked data. The workshop will also provide a forum to discuss how linked data might alter our current practices and workflows. This workshop is geared toward beginners and is designed for curious exploration and active learning.

OCLC The Power of Shared Data: What’s New and What’s Next?
Saturday, June 28, 2014 – 3:00pm to 4:00pm
N116, Las Vegas Convention Center
Join OCLC’s Ted Fons and Richard Wallis to understand how OCLC is leveraging your WorldCat holdings to give your institution broader visibility on the Web. In this session, we will detail current features, planned enhancements and new developments related to linked data.

Sunday June 29
Linked Library Data Interest Group
Sunday, June 29, 2014 – 8:30am to 10:00am
N237, Las Vegas Convention Center
Talk by Jon Phipps & discussion to follow. (Sunday, sadly, I’m on a plane to another meeting.)

Jon Phipps, of Metadata Management, will present a talk on:

RDA and LOD — FTW or WTF? : A Fair and Balanced Point of View.

Is RDA just “the rules” or is it a robust bibliographic metadata model designed specifically to support rich, FRBRized, distributed LOD that just happens to come with several thousand “pages” of rules? What’s this “unconstrained” stuff? Why does RDA RDF have URIs I can’t “read” and will never remember (and what are lexical aliases)? Why are there so many definitions for “Work” anyway? How is RDA handling versioning and releases? How is RDA using Git and GitHub? Why does any of this matter to my data and, more importantly, me?

You’ve got questions? Maybe Jon Phipps has some answers (except for that last one). Jon is a partner in Metadata Management Associates, a consultancy specializing in, wait for it … metadata management, and has been collaborating with various groups of well-intentioned folks trying to define RDA as a data model for what seems like centuries, and thinks that quite recently the JSC has pretty much nailed it.

A question and answer period and a lively managed discussion will follow the presentation. More info & speaker biography.

Understanding Schema.org
Sunday, June 29, 2014 – 10:30am to 11:30am
S230, Las Vegas Convention Center
Jason Clark and Dan Scott

Schema.org is an effort among major search engines to promote better linking of Web content through the use of metadata attributes in HTML markup, allowing for improved access to digital objects. The ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee invites you to hear speakers who are active in schema.org development in libraries, and who will discuss initiatives in this area within the GLAM community which promote a broader understanding of the development of bibliographic information among these communities.


Kudos to the LITA / ALCTS Linked Library Data Interest Group and ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee for facilitating a great program!

Above information from the American Library Association and its Linked Library Data Interest Group (updated June 17): double-check room numbers at the conference website, and add sessions to your conference scheduler.

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QOTD – physical computing

October 13th, 2013
by jodi

Personal computers have evolved in an office environment in which you sit on your butt, moving only your fingers, entering and receiving information censored by your conscious mind. That is not your whole life, and probably not even the best part. We need to think about computers that sense more of your body, serve you in more places, and convey the physical expression in addition to information.

Dan O’Sullivan and Tom Igoe, Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with Computers

via Jon Froehlich at DSST 2013 in his talk about the UMd HCIL hackerspace.

Slides for Jon’s talk, “If You Build It, They Will Come: Reflecting on the Successes (and Failures) of Building a Collaborative Workspace to Support Creativity, Experimentation, and Making”, are available via his talks page, as a huge PPTX here). Highly recommended if you’re interested in makerspaces/hackerspaces in academic institutions.

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Ph.D. viva – public talk

October 1st, 2013
by jodi

Here are the slides from the public part of my Ph.D. viva (thesis defense), on “Enabling reuse of arguments and opinions in open collaboration systems”. There is also a downloadable PDF version of the slides.

Video to follow: thanks to Hugo Hromic for streaming & recording that!

Title: “Enabling reuse of arguments and opinions in open collaboration systems”

Abstract: The World Wide Web enables large-scale collaboration, even between groups of individuals previously unknown to one another. These collaborations produce tangible outputs, such as encyclopedias (Wikipedia), electronic books (Distributed Proofreaders), maps (OpenStreetMap) and open source software packages (Firefox). In such open collaboration systems, decisions are made through open online discussions in which anyone can participate, and those decisions are based on the written arguments and opinions that individuals contribute, sometimes in large volumes.

Sense-making and coordination is an important component of collaboration, but it is particularly challenging when individuals disagree. When large volumes of opinions and arguments are expressed, popular or emotive choices can be identified through coarse approaches such as sampling, sentiment, or voting. But these do not identify the reasons for disagreement, which may be needed in order to reach decisions. For example, about 500 discussions each week in Wikipedia concern whether a particular topic should be covered in the encyclopedia. Discussions may involve comments from 2-200 people, and some topics are contentious.

This thesis addresses the problem of analyzing, integrating, and reconciling arguments and opinions in goal-oriented online discussions. We emphasize the structure of arguments by providing a new, reconfigurable Web interface. Our interface improves the perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and information completeness, thus providing meaningful support for the discussion.

The thesis addresses the following three research questions:
- What are the opportunities and requirements for providing argumentation support?
- Which arguments are used in open collaboration systems?
- How can we structure and display opinions and arguments to support their use and reuse?

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Ph.D. viva defended!

October 1st, 2013
by jodi

Happy to say that I successfully defended my Ph.D. thesis today.

Successfully defended: Twitter messages from my institute


“Congratulations to Dr @jschneider who successfully defended her PhD at @insight_centre @deri @nuigalway today!”

As for that “at @insight_centre @deri @nuigalway” bit? Our Galway-based research institute is in the course of changing names. DERI, the Digital Enterprise Research Institute, remains a part of the National University of Ireland, and under a new Irish national funding scheme, becomes INSIGHT Centre – Galway.

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Ph.D. defense, Tuesday October 1st

September 30th, 2013
by jodi

My Ph.D. defense (viva voce) will start with a short public talk. You’re invited!

We’ll be streaming from Galway on our research institute channel:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/insight-galway-live
on Tuesday October 1st, 9:30 AM Irish time (UTC/GMT +1 hour, same as British Summer Time) (show in other timezones).1

For more details, here’s a brief announcement from our institute mailing list:

Jodi Schneider will give a talk on her PhD work as part of her viva.
9.30 AM, Tuesday October 1st in the conference room.

Professor Simon Buckingham Shum (KMi, Open University) will be in attendance.
===============================================

TITLE “Enabling reuse of arguments and opinions in open collaboration systems”

ABSTRACT
The World Wide Web enables large-scale collaboration, even between groups of individuals previously unknown to one another. These collaborations produce tangible outputs, such as encyclopedias (Wikipedia), electronic books (Distributed Proofreaders), maps (OpenStreetMap) and open source software packages (Firefox). In such open collaboration systems, decisions are made through open online discussions in which anyone can participate, and those decisions are based on the written arguments and opinions that individuals contribute, sometimes in large volumes.

Sense-making and coordination is an important component of collaboration, but it is particularly challenging when individuals disagree. When large volumes of opinions and arguments are expressed, popular or emotive choices can be identified through coarse approaches such as sampling, sentiment, or voting. But these do not identify the reasons for disagreement, which may be needed in order to reach decisions. For example, about 500 discussions each week in Wikipedia concern whether a particular topic should be covered in the encyclopedia. Discussions may involve comments from 2-200 people, and some topics are contentious.

This thesis addresses the problem of analyzing, integrating, and reconciling arguments and opinions in goal-oriented online discussions. We emphasize the structure of arguments by providing a new, reconfigurable Web interface. Our interface improves the perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and information completeness, thus providing meaningful support for the discussion.

The thesis addresses the following three research questions:
- What are the opportunities and requirements for providing argumentation support?
- Which arguments are used in open collaboration systems?
- How can we structure and display opinions and arguments to support their use and reuse?

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Discourse community

August 6th, 2013
by jodi

“Discourse community” seems to be a good summary for a concept that I need. But I’m not happy with how to define it. One summary for my purposes might be: “a group with shared goals, a mechanism for communication, certain patterns of discussion, and enough members who have relevant expertise in the topic and how to argue about it”. That loses some of the richness but also manages the complexity of the full definition.

According to Swales,1
a discourse community:

  • has a broadly agreed set of common public goals.
  • has mechanisms of intercommunication among its members.
  • uses its participatory mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback.
  • utilizes and hence possesses one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of its aims.
  • in addition to owning genres, it has acquired some specific lexis.
  • has a threshold level of members with a suitable degree of relevant content and discoursal expertise

For a more recent summary, read Borg2 (who however seems to advocate the term “Community of Practice”, which seems to me far less well-defined, perhaps since I’ve not gone looking for a definition).

Swales presents a really interesting case study of a discourse community in his book: a stamp collection society–and explains rhetorical (genre-fit) mistakes he made in his first forays into the community.

I’d expect this definition to be more famous than it is. For common use, it has some flaws: technical terms such as ‘genres’ and ‘lexis’ should be described, as should ‘discoursal expertise’ and perhaps ‘participatory mechanisms’.

  1. Swales, John. Genre analysis: English in academic and research settings. Cambridge University Press, 1990. []
  2. Borg, Erik. “Discourse community.” ELT journal 57.4 (2003): 398-400. []

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Defining open collaboration systems

July 27th, 2013
by jodi

“Open collaboration systems” has lately become part of the (working) title for my thesis. I had tried talking about “purposeful online conversations” when scoping my work. I had in mind online conversations where people argued in order to find common ground and take action. By contrast, I explained, while people argue in many online venues, characterizing those arguments is challenging: what shall we say (in general) about the arguments on Twitter, or in comments to blog posts? But the phrase “purposeful online conversations” seemed to mean little to anyone but me.

I latched onto a new definition to use in my thesis: “open collaboration systems”. In an open collaboration system, “people form ties with others and create things together”1,2

Forte and Lampe define a “prototypical open collaboration system” as

an online environment that

  1. supports the collective production of an artifact
  2. through a technologically mediated collaboration platform
  3. that presents a low barrier to entry and exit, and
  4. supports the emergence of persistent but malleable social structures.3

I’m chagrined to say that it hadn’t occurred to me to quote the definition and then slightly redefine it. That is, until today when I chanced upon Andrew West’s thesis, “Damage detection and mitigation in open collaboration applications”4, about his large body of work on vandalism in Wikipedia, and the robust tool for vandalism reversion that he developed, Stiki. Very interesting since, as the title suggests, he creates a variant definition, Open Collaboration Applications (OCAs), where he liberally applies the “low barrier to entry and exit” to exclude moderation (for instance Github, which requires “proactive moderation” from repository owners, is excluded in his definition). He also stresses collective production more than most. But most interestingly to me, West very explicitly excludes voting-oriented collaborative filtering, based on the independence of the action taken by each voter.5

  1. Forte, Andrea, and Cliff Lampe. “Defining, Understanding, and Supporting Open Collaboration: Lessons From the Literature.” American Behavioral Scientist 57.5 (2013): 535-547. doi:10.1177/0002764212469362 []
  2. The article, published this May, is their introduction to a special issue in American Behavioral Scientist. ABS 57(5), published May 2013. As a side note, the definition seems to have arisen out of need; I’m grateful. The original CFP for the issue explained what they were looking for more generally: “By open collaboration we mean the development of novel social structures supported by technologies including wikis and other content management systems that allow people to share and build content.” []
  3. Forte, Andrea, and Cliff Lampe. “Defining, Understanding, and Supporting Open Collaboration: Lessons From the Literature.” American Behavioral Scientist 57.5 (2013): 535-547. doi:10.1177/0002764212469362 []
  4. Andrew West “Damage detection and mitigation in open collaboration applications” Ph.D. thesis, University of Pennsylvania. May 2013. []
  5. To clarify his modified definition of Open Collaboration Applications (OCAs), West says (in part):
    We proceed by discussing familiar examples that are not OCAs. Append only and monotonically growing content/discussion repositories fail to qualify because they are not collectively produced at any granularity. This includes applications like YouTube, Flickr, forums, and blog/article comments regardless of the fact their content is user generated (these are aggregated independent artifacts). Collaborative filtering applications like Reddit, Digg, and Slashdot are also insufficient. Therein, community voting determines the acceptance and/or prominence of individual content items (“posts”) towards composing a public facing artifact. These fail in two dimensions: (1) Voting is an append only action, and (2) supposing participants could fully “edit” the ordering, this presentation is nonetheless a meta-artifact of independent posts – failing the atomicity constraint.

    []

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QOTD: Heinlein’s truth-telling language, Speedtalk

July 14th, 2013
by jodi

Inventing languages is a past-time both of philosophers and science fiction storytellers. It spotlights the relationships between language and thought and language and culture.1

Yesterday I ran across Heinlein’s truth-telling language, Speedtalk. A few lines were really striking:
“In the syntax of Speedtalk the paradox of the Spanish Barber could not even be expressed, save as a self-evident error.”
“The advantage for achieving truth, or something more nearly like truth, was similar to the advantage of keeping account books in Arabic numerals rather than Roman.”

Here’s a longer quote:

But Speedtalk was not “shorthand” Basic English. “Normal” languages, having their roots in days of superstition and ignorance, have in them inherently and unescapably wrong structures of mistaken ideas about the universe. One can think logically in English only by extreme effort, so bad it is as a mental tool. For example, the verb “to be” in English has twenty-one distinct meanings, every single one of which is false-to-fact.

A symbolic structure, invented instead of accepted without question, can be made similar in structure to the real-world to which it refers. The structure of Speedtalk did not contain the hidden errors of English; it was structured as much like the real world as the New Men could make it. For example, it did not contain the unreal distinction between nouns and verbs found in most other languages. The world—the continuum known to science and including all human activity—does not contain “noun things” and “verb things”; it contains space-time events and relationships between them. The advantage for achieving truth, or something more nearly like truth, was similar to the advantage of keeping account books in Arabic numerals rather than Roman.
All other languages made scientific, multi-valued logic almost impossible to achieve; in Speedtalk it was as difficult not to be logical. Compare the pellucid Boolean logic with the obscurities of the Aristotelean logic it supplanted.

Paradoxes are verbal, do not exist in the real world—and Speedtalk did not have such built into it. Who shaves the Spanish Barber? Answer: follow him around and see. In the syntax of Speedtalk the paradox of the Spanish Barber could not even be expressed, save as a self-evident error.

Gulf, as printed in Assignment in Eternity – Robert A. Heinlein - Baen edition

This seemed to me to echo Leibniz’ symbolic language, in the “truthtelling” aspects — perhaps since I wrote a few months ago about Leibniz!2
Leibniz was perhaps the first philosopher to write about a special language for expressing truth or making arguments evident.34

  1. Apparently Wikipedia keeps a list of constructed languages and has nearby discussion on the purpose of some of these. []
  2. For thesis Chapter 1, forthcoming; thanks to some comments from Adam Wyner. Ironically, my BA thesis was on Leibniz monads, but if I’d ever read the “Let us calculate” lines, I certainly didn’t have them in mind when thinking of argumentation! []
  3. For more, see Roger Bishop Jones on Leibniz and the Automation of Reason. []
  4. For references to the original, trace a discussion on the listserv historia-matematica, started by Robert Tragesser 1999-05-23, [HM] Leibniz’s “let us calculate”?, with responses over several months. Michael Detlefsen gives references to several of Leibniz’s writings, and a followup question about which quote is most widely known (1999-07-17, started by “L. M. Picard” with the subject [HM] Leibniz’s “let us calculate”) yields a very useful response from Siegmund Probst, quoting several variants with detailed references. []

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QOTD: communicative competence, ethnography of speaking

June 5th, 2013
by jodi

An ethnography of speaking is centrally concerned with `communicative competence’ (Hymes 1972c), what speakers need to know to communicate appropriately in a particular speech community, and how this competence is acquired. Competence includes rules pertaining to language structure and language use as well as cultural knowledge — for example which participants may or may not speak in certain settings, which contexts are appropriate for speech and which for silence, what types of talk are appropriate to persons of different status and roles, norms for requesting and giving information (of particular concern to ethnographers), for making other requests, offers, declinations, commands, the use of non-verbal behaviours in various contexts, practices for alternating between speakers, for constructing authority, etc. This focus on the skills members of a community display when communicating with each other entails a broader notion of competence than linguists advocated. Hymes included communicative as well as grammatical competence in conditions of appropriate speech use, embracing aspects of communication such as gestures and eye-gaze, whereas Chromsky caustioned that to incorporate aspects such as beliefs and attitudes into a study of language would mean that `language is chaos that is not worth studying’ (Chomsky, 1977:153).

We have … to account for the fact that a normal child acquires knowledge of sentences, not only as grammatical, but also as appropriate. He or she acquires competence as to when to speak, when not, and as to what to talk about with whom, when, where, in what manner. In short, a child becomes able to accomplish a repetoire of speech acts, to take part in speech events, and to evaluate their accomplishment by others. This competence, moreover, is integral with attitudes, values, and motivations concerning language, its features and uses, and integral with competence for, and attitudes toward, the interrelation of language, with the other codes of communicative conduct. (Hymes, 1972c:277-8).

-page 287 from “The Ethnography of Communication”, Elizabeth Keating (pages 285-301) in SAGE Handbook of Ethnography

Resolving above References
Chomsky, Noam (1977) Language and Responsibility, Based on Conversation with Mitsou Ronat (tras. J. Viertel). New York: Pantheon.

Hymes, Dell (1972 c) “On communicative competence”, in J.B. Pride and J. Holmes (eds), Sociolinguistics. Harmondsworth: Penguin. pp. 269-85.

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QOTD: System

June 3rd, 2013
by jodi

On what a system is, to Christopher Alexander:

When the elements of a set belong together because they co-operate or work together somehow, we call the set of elements a system.

For example, in Berkeley at the corner of Hearst and Euclid, there is a drugstore, and outside the drugstore a traffic light. In the entrance to the drugstore there is a newsrack where the day’s papers are displayed. When the light is red, people who are waiting to cross the street stand idly by the light; and since they have nothing to do, they look at the papers displayed on the newsrack which they can see from where they stand. Some of them just read the headlines, others actually buy a paper while they wait.

This effect makes the newsrack and the traffic light interactive; the newsrack, the newspapers on it, the money going from people’s pockets to the dime slot, the people who stop at the light and read papers, the traffic light, the electric impulses which make the lights change, and the sidewalk which the people stand on form a system – they all work together.
- Christopher Alexander, A city is not a tree, 1965.

(See also the article’s conclusion and publishing history)

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