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Bulletin, June/July 2008

Bulletin Editor, Irene TravisEditor's Desktop

Irene L. Travis, Editor

Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology

We begin this issue with ASIS&T news and activities. ASIS&T 2008 President Nancy Roderer brings us up-to-date with her President’s Page on a number of important projects that are engaging the attention of the Board of Directors at present, including the re-compete of the contract to publish our journal (JASIST) and the search for a new JASIST editor. The Board has also approved our trying to create a new global alliance among information societies. Nancy also mentions the work of the placement task force and of the task force considering whether ASIS&T should become involved in the accreditation of information science programs. 

In another important development the Board has recently approved an open access policy for JASIST that allows authors to post preprints of their articles on their personal websites or the repositories of their institutions (but not subject repositories). Since we are a society with members heavily engaged in information research, including research about scholarly communication, ASIS&T and our Journal publisher, Wiley-Blackwell, have decided to study the effects of such a move. To implement this program, they jointly administered a baseline survey in January of this year, which Margeaux Johnson and Nancy Roderer discuss in their article “ASIS&T Scholarly Communication Survey” in Inside ASIS&T.

Apart from activities at the national level, it is always interesting to look at the ASIS&T local chapter events, where so many innovative ideas are nourished. Also in this issue of Inside ASIS&T, Aaron Louie of the Pacific Northwest Chapter (PNC) reports on ASIS&T’s first “unconference,” in this case a “BarCamp” called “InfoCamp,” jointly sponsored by the PNC and the University of Washington’s ASIS&T Student Chapter. Don’t know what a BarCamp is? Here’s your chance to find out, and, more importantly, to discover how your chapter also might host a low-cost, exciting unconference.

Our special section might be a good topic for a BarCamp – except that BarCamps don’t have topics. Those of us who have had much exposure to library cataloging are sensitized to genre (and form) and their use of subject headings and classification systems. Catalogers, at least, also know the complexity and difficulties of genre, while all librarians deal with it in the arrangement of their collections. Archivists and records managers are also keenly aware of genre or form in records, which is usually closely related to the type of transaction being documented by the record creator and thus of great importance. And all of us are very much aware of the new genres that are being created by the digital environment – the homepage, the FAQ, the “about,” the blog, the wiki and so forth. What should the role of genre be in information retrieval on the web? Is genre information potentially a cost-beneficial addition to web search engines as a primary or a limiting attribute? Is it well enough defined for such broad use? Can it be identified automatically? How can its purpose – its link to the activity that produced the document – be exploited to add another dimension to retrieval and to the study of user behavior? These questions and others are the subjects of this issue’s special section: Bringing Genre into Focus, edited by Luanne Freund and Christoph Ringlstetter. Six authors treat both sides of the debate and address some of the practical problems.

Finally, if you want to sell your managers on adding genre to your website search engine, Ted Sienknecht and Andrew Carlin have some excellent advice for you. In our Information Architecture (IA) column Ted lays out how to use information advantage to your advantage to justify any IA innovation, while in a feature article Andrew Carlin provides some very practical, nuts-and-bolts guidance on how to make any interview, whether for academic research or for requirements analysis, a successful and productive experience for all concerned.