of the American Society for Information Science and Technology          Vol. 28, No. 4          April / May 2002


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Annual Meeting Coverage

Poster Sessions at ASIST 2001: A Welcome Resource

by Michael Buckland and Gary Marchionini

Michael K. Buckland is professor, School of Information Management, University of California, Berkeley, South Hall 102, Berkeley, CA 94720-4600; 510/462-3159; e-mail: buckland@sims.berkeley.edu

Gary J. Marchionini is professor, SILS, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 3360 Manning Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599; 919/ 966-3611; e-mail: march@ils.unc.edu

The poster sessions at the 2001 Annual Meeting provided a very welcome addition to the program. A convenient room and two lunch-hour time -slots provided an opportunity to sample nearly 30 highly varied presentations. The University of Pittsburgh graciously sponsored food for the conference in celebration of their centennial. The poster sessions and one-page summaries can be found in the conference Proceedings. What follows is a sampling of what we experienced in person.

Use of Electronic Resources by Special Groups

Historians, we learned from Suzanne Graham, University of Southern Mississippi, use electronic materials and support library digitization, but prefer to cite paper sources. Cecelia Brown, University of Oklahoma, reported preliminary findings that Chemistry Preprint Server e-prints were used much as preprints have been, rather than as archival sources.

Social Aspects of Information Flow

Welcome complements to the general emphasis on information technology were two poster presentations on cultural aspects of oral traditions and tacit knowledge. Wendy Holliday, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, having been tribal archivist for the Hopi Tribe, is examining complex oral traditions as a system for knowledge management and transmission (http://leep.lis.uiuc.edu/seworkspace/whollida/prof/InfoRemembered.html). Reuben Torry, Accenture, Hartford, New Hampshire, reported that knowledge management specialists in Korea and in the United States were found to have significantly different perspectives on tacit knowledge.

Howard Besser presented the UCLA/Pacific Bell Initiative for the 21st Century project on examination of e-literacy and on the "digital divide." The suggestion was that, while the gap in access may be narrowing, a huge gap remains in lack of suitable resources for underserved groups. See www.newliteracies.gseis.ucla.edu.

Access and Searching

Ingrid Hsieh-Yee, Catholic University of America, presented a Delphi study of metadata experts' opinions concerning what features of metadata should be taught in graduate LIS programs and what metadata research should be undertaken. Joanne Claussen, West Group, St. Paul, Minnesota, reported that a two-stage search process first browsing to select a suitable sub-collection, then retrieval within that sub-collection yielded superior results to retrieval from the entire collection in the case of a highly hierarchical one terabyte collection of legal texts. The poster presentation of Efthimis Efthimiadis and Holly Eggleston, University of Washington, showed promising work on trying to make database usage data usable for library administrators.

The leading edge in online access was well represented by a presentation on the continued development of the CHESHIRE system (http://cheshire.lib.berkeley.edu/) by Ray Larson, University of California-Berkeley, and by the "Z-interop" Z39.50 Interoperability Testbed project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services presented by Teresa Lepchenkse and William Moen, University of North Texas, Denton.

Greg Newby, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, presented an update on his IRTools project that integrates a variety of algorithms and techniques into a toolkit that researchers can use to do large-scale retrieval experiments with selected parameters such as easily swapping stemming, term weighting and tag-handling techniques or retrieval models such as the Boolean, vector, probabilistic or latent semantic indexing (LSI).

Another advanced retrieval system was presented by Larry Mongin, Javed Mostafa and John Fieber. They are combining clustering algorithms with dynamic 2D visualization techniques in their Sifter Project (http://sifter.indiana.edu). In their poster user medical queries were mapped to Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) categories, and users interactively selected terms in those categories for cluster analysis and visualizations that show relationships with motion as well as spatial position.

An innovative approach to getting online public access catalog (OPAC) users to learn more about system features was presented by Jody Fagan from Southern Illinois University. She analyzed how video game designers motivate players to learn more through exploration and clever demonstrations. Based on this analysis, she has surveyed users and plans to incorporate some of these techniques into OPAC interfaces.

Multimedia and Visualizations

James Turner of the University of Montreal presented a timeline-based model for displaying metadata for multimedia, multilingual data such as video with French and English soundtracks.

Kate McCain showed fascinating visual displays of co-citation clusters using Herbert Simon's Sciences of the Artificial book. Beyond the usual linkages that occur with co-citation, she extends the concept to other mutual relationships in general, demonstrating with linkages among books co-purchased on amazon.com.

Work in Progress

Poster sessions are a good opportunity for researchers and doctoral students to present work in progress. An example of work at an early stage was a project by Xiangmin Zhang, Hermina Angelescu and Stephen McMinn, Wayne State University, to explore what individual differences, particularly in domain knowledge, exist in and influence interactions with IR systems. Virginia Papandrea, University at Albany, SUNY, presented doctoral work in progress, a comparative analysis of the occupational cultures of librarians and computing staff. Librarians appear to value collaborative work-styles and predictable routines; computing staff tend towards independent decision-making and rapid adaptations to environmental changes. Suzie Allard, University of Kentucky, presented her work on technology acceptance that was rooted in studying how students at the university participate in the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.


The poster sessions were an attractive feature of the meeting. It was particularly nice to see seasoned scholars juxtapositioned with newcomers. Posters give people a chance to interact in one-on-one or one-on-a-few situations. This type of interaction is extremely valuable for all involved and adds an important dimension to the technical program of any meeting. Additionally, posters allow participants an opportunity to learn about more late-breaking developments. The posters that were presented in 2001 were much more up-to-date and detailed than the short descriptions that appeared in the Proceedings due to the extraordinary lag time required to get print publications ready in time for the meeting. Posters add an important ephemeral element to the conference and provide many advantages. We look forward to seeing another great mix next year.

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