I am very much looking forward to the Tenth International ISKO Conference, which will be held in Montréal, Canada, on August 5-8, 2008. The theme of the conference is Culture and Identity in Knowledge Organisation and the keynote address will be delivered by Jonathan Furner, Associate Professor at UCLA: “Interrogating ‘identity’: A Philosophical Approach to an Enduring Issue in Knowledge Organization”. There is also a workshop session and the famous banquet (I’m glad I’m not doing the seating plan – how do you please everyone when you have to organise experts in organisation?)
I’ve already highlighted The Role of Causality and Conceptual Coherence in Assessments of Similarity by Louise Spiteri; Knowledge Organization in the Cross-cultural and Multicultural Society by Ágnes Hajdu Barát; and Deliberate Bias in Knowledge Organization? by Birger Hjørland, but there are about 60 papers being presented in all.
I have now finished reading this splendid book by Patrick Lambe. It is one of those books that is really hard to take notes from because you just want to write so much of it down. It is extremely readable and combines clear explanations of theory with sound practical advice and insights from real world experience. I particularly appreciated definitions of concepts like the Babel instinct, boundary objects, salience, and archetypes.
A good and detailed introduction to some key Knowledge organisation concepts and a few handy links by a learned chemist (interesting how so many “classifiers” are chemists!). I’m not sure I agree with the distinction between the role of the encylopedist and the information professional (having been both) – it seems to me that there is a lot of overlap! I am also not convinced that it is useful to talk about notions of only being able to categorise a topic successfully once it has ceased to grow. That seems to be calling upon a Platonic ideal where all that can ever be known is known. It seems to drive you down the same philosophical hole of deciding that you can’t prove or know anything anyway. In the real world, the notion of “successful” isn’t a Platonic ideal. A categorisation can be both successful and require updating. There are hardly any real world examples of a topic that has ceased to grow, except maybe very specific practical contexts, e.g. a service company that generated no physical products and has gone out of business (until the social historians start studying it). I find it hard to think of any truly “dead” topic in an abstract sense (alchemy? ancient Aramaic? – but people do still study them).