Friday, 27 February 2015

Thesaurus Debate needs to move on

Surprise, surprise - last Thursday's debate on this proposition was a pushover for the opposition. To defeat any argument of the form “XXX has no place in YYY”, all you have to provide is one counter-example.
Just for starters:
  •  The UK Data Archive, powered by the HASSET thesaurus
  • The FAO’s AGRIS database, searchable using AGROVOC, and
  •  EUROVOC, used for searching publications of the EU institutions and others

were among 11 such examples that Leonard Will managed to cram on to one slide. He could have gone on to cite dozens more cases where a thesaurus provides sophisticated and indispensable search capabilities.
The “expert witness” Philip Carlisle backed him up by describing the nine vocabularies and related services that English Heritage built and maintains for the heritage community. Contributions from the floor drew attention to the power of a thesaurus to cross language boundaries, not to mention image searching, where indexing with a controlled vocabulary still outperforms all the other methods.  
But simply overthrowing the proposition misses the point – the role of the thesaurus in modern Information retrieval has shrunk from what it once was. The high development and maintenance costs of an extensive controlled vocabulary deter most potential implementers. Most users simply do not want to know about such a complicated-looking beast, and so the shy thesaurus needs to perform discreetly but cost-effectively behind the scenes. Given a discerning team of developers, curators, IT support staff and indexers, this sophisticated tool can and should function interoperably alongside statistical algorithms, NLP techniques, data mining, clustering, latent semantic indexing. linked data, etc. Networking and collaboration, not rivalry, are the future.
As the professional body that has grown up around classification, indexing, use of thesauri and other knowledge organization systems, ISKO has a mandate to mark out that future. Follow-up activities could usefully explore:
  •           The contexts in which the thesaurus is or is not a useful tool;
  •           how to choose between a thesaurus and another type of knowledge organization system;
  •           how to integrate a thesaurus with the other components of a modern information retrieval system;
  •           how to adapt a standard thesaurus to the needs of special contexts;
  •           features of the software needed for thesaurus management.

The knowledge organizer with a grasp of these topics is ideally placed to develop the hybrid vocabulary structures (e.g. a layer of thesaurus model hooked on to upper level ontologies and coated with taxonomy features) needed in today’s networked environments.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Call for Papers - International UDC Seminar 2015: CLASSIFICATION AND AUTHORITY CONTROL: Expanding Resource Discovery

DATE: 29-30 October 2015
VENUE: National Library of Portugal
Campo Grande 83
Lisbon, Portugal

Linked data practices and techniques have opened new possibilities in exploiting controlled vocabularies and improving resource discovery. Authority data held in library systems, including classification schemes find new ways of expanding its potential as shared knowledge structures across the linked data environment.

The objective of this conference is to explore such a potential, expanding the value and use of classification as authority controlled vocabulary, from the local perspective to the global environment.

We invite experts in authority control, classification schemes and linked data to provide overviews, illustrations and analysis of classification data management and exploitation. Contributions are welcome on high quality, innovative research and practice on the following topics:

•    Classification as a component of subject authority control
•    Classification authority data formats and modeling
•    Classification and multilingual subject access
•    Sharing classification data from authority files
•    Classification data in the open linked data context


Two kinds of contributions are invited: conference papers and posters. Authors should submit a paper proposal in the form of an extended abstract (1000-1200 words, including references, for papers; and 500-600 words for posters). The submission form is provided on the conference website.

Proposals will be reviewed by the Programme Committee consisting of an international panel of experts. Each submission will undergo a blind review by at least three reviewers.

The Conference proceedings will be published by Ergon Verlag and will be distributed at the conference.


    28 February 2015    Paper proposal submission deadline
    23 March 2015    Notification of acceptance & paper submission instructions
    15 May 2015 Papers submission (camera ready copy)

ORGANIZER: Classification & Authority Control: Expanding Resource Discovery is the fifth biennial conference in a series of International UDC Seminars organized by the UDC Consortium (UDCC). UDCC is a not-for-profit organization, based in The Hague, established to maintain and distribute the Universal Decimal Classification and to support its use and development. UDC is one of the most widely used knowledge organization systems in the bibliographic domain.