B  U  L  L  E  T  I  N

of the American Society for Information Science and Technology       Vol. 31, No. 4    April/May 2005

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Whatís New?

Selected Abstracts from JASIS&T

Editorís note: We invite JASIS&T authors to submit structured abstracts of their articles for possible inclusion in the Bulletin, particularly those that might be of interest to practitioners. ASIS&T would welcome reader feedback on the usefulness of this (or any other) Bulletin feature (bulletin@asis.org).

From JASIS&T v. 56 (1)

Fonseca, F. T., & Martin, J. E. (2005). Towards an alternative notion of information systems ontologies: Information engineering as a hermeneutic enterprise, (46-57).

Study and Results: In this paper we discuss the construction of information systems ontologies. In this context, we develop an argument for a hermeneutic approach to ontologies based on the philosophy of science literature. This shows the relevance of hermeneutics to the creation of information system ontologies. The problems associated with understanding and creating information systems ontologies can be addressed fruitfully only if one begins by acknowledging that databases are mechanisms for communication involving judgments and interpretations by intelligent and knowledgeable users.

What's New? The main contribution of this paper is that information science and technology practitioners interested in the construction of ontologies should take into consideration a perspective of the philosophy and history of science.

Limitations: In this paper we address the discussion of ontologies and information systems from a high-level perspective giving some principles that can be used as foundations of a hermeneutic ontology editor. Practical methods to solve differences and fuse horizons in the process of building ontologies are still an ongoing work.

From JASIS&T v. 56 (4)

Allison, A., Currall, J., Moss, M. & Stuart, S. (2005). Digital identity matters, (364-372).

Study and Results: What identifies a digital object and what criteria are needed to reidentify it at some time in the future?  We compare the digital situation to the physical world of paper with which we are all familiar and show how much of what provides us with surety is as much to do with processes and cultural mechanisms as it is with physical characteristics. Our conclusions are that this issue cannot be satisfactorily resolved purely by reference to characteristics of the bit stream, but the context and culture that will be built up around digital objects over an extended period of time.

What's New? A careful decomposition of the problem, examining the logic of identity, types and tokens, the role of a variety of intermediaries, the fact that we don't experience digital objects directly but do so through the agency of computers and software and the lack of clear boundedness of many digital objects.

Limitations: This work does not, as yet, provide clear solutions but does indicate the direction in which we should look for them.

Lin, S-J. & Belkin, N. (2005). Validation of a model of information seeking over multiple search sessions, (393-415).

Study and Results: The study validated the sufficiency and accuracy of a conceptual model (MISE) in characterizing successive searches over multiple search sessions.  The result found that the original MISE model is highly accurate but less sufficient in the sense that all factors in the MISE model were empirically confirmed, but new factors were identified as well.

What's New? The original MISE model was revised, shifting from the user-centered to the interaction-centered perspective and taking into account factors of searcher, system, search activity, search context, information attainment and information use activities. The new classes of variables were defined and explained.

Limitations: The study was exploratory in nature. The size of subjects was small and the constituency of subjects was homogeneous. A larger pool of more heterogeneous subjects could be necessary to draw a more valid generalization.

Lin, S-J. (2005) Internetworking of factors affecting successive searches over multiple episodes, (416-436).

Study and Results: The study enhanced the descriptive power of the revised MISE model in characterizing successive searches by depicting the relationship among the factors in the model based on empirical evidence. It also increased the explanatory power of the revised MISE model by demonstrating how the key information-seeking-process factors have evolved over sessions and are affected by other factors in the MISE model.

What's New? First, the findings helped reinforce the proposition of the MISE model that successive searches should be considered as problem-centered rather than stage-centered. Although information seeking in general is a knowledge-construction process, many information problems could be subordinated to the same leading search goal, and the increase of knowledge in one subtopic does not necessarily help the searches for a different information problem under the same leading search goal.  Second, the revised MISE model can serve as a framework in evaluating the interfaces to information systems.  The connection of different evaluation criteria to the different MISE factors was explained.

Limitations: More research on the search tasks with different degrees of complexity and abstractness may be necessary to further confirm the validity.

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