of The American Society for Information Science

Vol. 27, No.1

October/November 2000

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Inside ASIS

ASIS Annual Meeting Sets Tone for the New Millennium

 As ASIS members prepare to gather for the 2000 ASIS Annual Meeting, President Eugene Garfield defines the importance of this time in his introduction to the ASIS Annual Meeting Program. He notes particularly the important role ASIS has played in defining the information age: "Over the past several decades, ASIS and its members have played a key leadership role in developing new and better ways to collect, organize and disseminate information. That groundbreaking work helped to lay the foundation for today's Internet revolution, which is radically changing the way we work, study and live.

"This year's conference theme, Knowledge Innovations: Celebrating Our Heritage, Designing Our Future, reflects this unique time in our history. It will be a chance to celebrate our rich background and decades of accomplishment. But, equally important, it will be an opportunity for us to look forward to explore how we can best use the first principles of information science to guide our work in the century ahead and to help society realize the full potential of the Internet revolution."

 The 2000 ASIS Annual Meeting, November 11-16, in Chicago, features more than 50 workshops, 2 keynote speakers, 37 contributed papers sessions and 8 continuing education pre-conference workshops. Speakers will review the latest developments in current (and imminent) knowledge creation, acquisition, navigation, retrieval, management and dissemination; examine the theories behind the developments; and explore their potential impact on the field.

Among the timely topics included in the program:

  • Knowledge management
  • Information architecture
  • Electronic books
  • Digital libraries
  • Usability testing
  • Cross-language information retrieval
  • Search engines and browsers
  • Information seeking behavior
  • Corporate and national information cultures
  • Knowledge/information architecture
  • Data mining
  • Indexing
  • Metadata systems

 Conference chair Nancy Roderer and her committee have put together an incredible program designed to bring attendees up-to-speed on the latest processes, technologies and tools; offer recommendations on important operational considerations; and examine changes in international and domestic laws and regulations.

Keynote Speakers

ASIS 2000 will begin on a high note with an informative and thought-provoking talk by Anthony Oettinger, the Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Mathematics and professor of Information Resources Policy at Harvard University. Dr. Oettinger and his colleagues at the Harvard Program on Information Resources Policy (PIRP) are studying the effects of public policy and strategic corporate decisions on such old-fashioned information systems as newspapers, books, radio and TV, and on emerging systems like the Internet, telecommunications and centralized or distributed databases. The topics they study are often the subject of pitched battles in the courts, legislatures and regulatory agencies.

The second keynote talk features John Seely Brown, the chief scientist at Xerox Corporation and the director of its Palo Alto Research Center. Dr. Brown has been deeply involved in the formation of Xerox's corporate strategy and its efforts to position itself as "The Document Company." He has helped expand the role of corporate research to include such topics as organizational learning, ethnographies of the workplace, complex adaptive systems and techniques for unfreezing the corporate mind. A major focus of his research has been in the area of human learning and in the management of radical innovation. Dr. Brown is also co-founder of the Institute for Research on Learning, a non-profit organization seeking to address the challenges of lifelong learning.

Continuing Education Workshops

 Continuing education workshops require a separate registration. See the program registration form for details. The following workshops will be offered as pre- or post-conference workshops in Chicago.

Essential 21st Century Law for Information Professionals Instructor: Lee Strickland, senior intelligence officer, Central Intelligence Agency, and visiting professor, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland

Managing Electronic Records Instructor: William Saffady, professor, Palmer School of Library and Information Sciences, Long Island University

Classification for User Support and Learning (SIG/CR)

Introduction to Delivering Databases Via the Web Instructor: Michael Leach, director of the Physics Research Library and the Kummel Library of Geology at Harvard University

Electronic Document Imaging Instructor: William Saffady, professor, Palmer School of Library and Information Sciences, Long Island University

Managing Information Portals and Content Instructor: Howard McQueen, Chief Executive Officer of McQueen Consulting

Visual Analysis Methods for Information Retrieval Instructor: Mark Rorvig, associate professor of library and information sciences, University of North Texas

Synonyms and Taxonomies: Thesaurus Design for Information Architects (in cooperation with Argus Associates) Instructor: Argus Associates, Inc.

Hotel and City Information

 Conference hotel for ASIS 2000 is the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, 301 East North Water Street, Chicago, IL  60611.

 Chicago is one of America's truly great cities, reflecting the diverse cultural and economic riches of our nation. From stunning architecture to lake front parks to vibrant ethnic neighborhoods Chicago offers a wide range of attractions, all within easy reach of the conference site in the heart of downtown. 

 Whether your tastes run to art, music, dancing, shopping, sports, history, haute cuisine or all of the above Chicago provides a dazzling array of choices. Stroll the halls of the world-famous Art Institute, watch NBA Rookie of the Year Elton Brand ply his trade at the United Center, ride the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, browse the variety of stores on the Magnificent Mile or dance the night away on Division Street.

 The options are virtually endless. So when the conference day is through, lock up your laptop, click off your cell phone and take some time to enjoy Chicago's unsurpassed beauty and world-class entertainment.

Additional Information

 Full conference details, including registration forms and hotel information, are available at the ASIS website


and are included in the printed program which will be mailed to all ASIS members.

Election of ASIS Officers Underway

 As this issue of the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science goes to press, ballots for the election of new officers and directors of ASIS are still arriving at headquarters. The ballots are to be counted during the first week of October. Results of the election will be available on the ASIS website
and will be discussed at the Annual Meeting as new members of the Board prepare to take their seats.

ASIS Plans Second Practicing Information Architecture Meeting

Even though there are thousands of practicing information architects, there are few venues for them to meet and swap stories. Practicing Information Architecture, February 2-4, 2001, is the second in the ASIS-sponsored series of conferences that are the largest meeting places for information architecture professionals.

This meeting balances practical applications of information architecture with the big picture thinking and sparring that electrified the April 2000 meeting. Practicing Information Architecture will bring together people from business and academia with a variety of perspectives that include information architecture, human-computer interaction, visual design, experience design and usability.

Look for additional information about Practicing Information Architecture at the ASIS website.

News from ASIS Chapters

 Pamela Cibbarelli of Cibbarelli's was among the workshop presenters scheduled to participate in the Los Angeles Chapter of ASIS (LACASIS) day-long session on The New Basics: Tools You Can Use in September. Other scheduled presenters were Carla Owens, The Boston Consulting Group; Terry Ryan, UCLA; Jeremy Frumkin, University of Arizona; and Richard Marciano and Amarnath Gupta, San Diego Supercomputer Center.

News About ASIS Members

Claudia J. Gollop, a faculty member at UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Information and Library Science (SILS) since 1994, has been promoted to associate professor.

 Fred Lerner, information scientist at the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, saw his science fiction story, "Rosetta Stone," published in The Year's Best Science Fiction 5, edited by David G. Hartwell and published by HarperPrism. "Rosetta Stone," which is based on library science, rather than the traditional fields of physical or biological science, is Lerner's first published story and originally appeared in the Spring 2000 issue of Artemis magazine.

 Michael B. Eisenberg, director of the School of Library and Information Science, University of Washington; Charles R. McClure, Francis Eppes Professor, School of Information Studies, Florida State University; and R. David Lankes, director of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology were among the scheduled speakers at the Virtual Reference Desk Conference, The Facets of Digital Reference.

Margret (Lippert) Branschofsky has been named faculty liaison for the DSpace Project at MIT. DSpace is a joint development effort by the MIT Libraries and the Hewlett-Packard Company to build a digital repository to capture, store and distribute the research publications and other rich-media documents of MIT's faculty and researchers.

Emil Levine is assisting the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in the total design of a new UN library in Vienna. With its decision to create its own library, UNIDO anticipates that it will have one of the most modern facilities in the UN library community.

In Appreciation

Robert Arthur Fairthorne, a true pioneer of information science, died on May 24. He was a colleague, mentor and, above all, friend to many of us. I want to present here an expression of appreciation of this giant of our field, both of the scientist and of the personal friend. I do not intend a complete biography, nor bibliography, just warm memories.

After obtaining a degree in mathematics from the University of London, Robert Fairthorne spent the next 30 years on the scientific staff of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE), working on studies of the stability of structures and the application of statistics to aeronautical research. In 1945 he launched what became the Mathematical Services Department of RAE, starting with commercial punchedcard equipment and techniques for scientific computing.

Fairthorne said that his transition from computation to information tasks occurred after attending a 1950 International Congress of Mathematicians at Harvard University, at which time he also saw some pioneering computer projects.  He also visited with Calvin Mooers and studied his superimposed coding scheme. Mooers had presented a paper in the Congress entitled "Information Retrieval Viewed as Temporal Signaling," which was the first appearance of Mooers' phrase information retrieval. With his keen respect for language, Fairthorne took up this phrase and used it in his writings, as witness his seminal book, Toward Information Retrieval, published in 1961.

During this early period of his involvement in our field, Fairthorne wrote his paper "The Patterns of Retrieval," which appeared in American Documentation, April 1956. There he offered the expressions marking and parking to describe the activities in information work of identifying objects for retrieval (marking) and placing them in some order (parking). Those expressions would prove useful to others of us in the field.

It was not until he resigned from RAE in 1963 that Fairthorne became even more active in information science circles, particularly in this country. He came here earlier in the '60s to attend conferences and speak at meetings. I met him at about this time.We who attended those meetings at which he spoke soon recognized that it behooved us to listen carefully, because he had important, perceptive messages for us.

Fairthorne had also met Saul Herner at this time. Saul invited Fairthorne to join the staff of Herner and Company as senior scientist, a position in which he served from 1963 to 1967. This appointment put Fairthorne in close contact with another colleague and friend, Harold Wooster, who was director of information science in the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). Under a contract with the AFOSR Fairthorne carried on various projects with fundamental contributions to information science. A major accomplishment, for example, was his analysis of the meaning and limitations of Bradford's Law of Scattering, relating it to Zipf's Law and Mandelbrot's work. Fairthorne thus helped to rationalize and explain the derivations and, again, limitations of the newly emerging field of bibliometrics. His paper, "Empirical Hyperbolic Distributions (Bradford, Zipf, Mandelbrot) for Bibliometric Distribution and Prediction," became a classic in our field. But Fairthorne liked to refer to it as "Zipf Unfastened."

Fairthorne also served as visiting research professor at Western Reserve University, at the invitation of Dean Jesse Shera, and at State University of New York at Albany, at the request of Professor Lea Bohnert. And he received the ASIS Award of Merit in 1967 for his dedicated and pioneering efforts in information science.

Another major Fairthornestyle contribution was his article "Morphology of Information Flow," which appeared in the Journal of the ACM, October 1967. Fairthorne discussed the limitations of Shannon's information (or communication) theory, which considered the transmission of information as a statistical phenomenon. To some it seemed that Shannon's work could lead to development of a theoretical foundation for information retrieval, but Fairthorne helped to repudiate this belief. In the "Morphology... " paper, he identified two triads, characterized as signaling and discourse, which when interconnected formed a hexagon of 20 different triads, which Fairthorne labeled notification. Two of the most familiar of those triads could be denoted as messages held in a channel according to a classification system ("parking") and the classification and notation system itself ("marking").

This contribution sparked additional efforts by colleagues in the field.  Specifically, in the Journal of Documentation, June 1974, an issue dedicated to Robert Fairthorne on his 70th birthday, we see a paper by Calvin Mooers, "Analysis of the hexagon of notification"; one by Lea Bohnert, "Fairthorne's triads as an aid in teaching information science"; and one by Harold Wooster, "Marking and parking  a sexist fable," a tonguein-cheek spoof of librarianship. I'm sure Fairthorne enjoyed all of the contributions in that issue.

This list points up the esteem and affection we felt for Fairthorne as scientist and friend. He was a witty and precise writer with a deep respect for the language. He also had a great sense of humor, which delighted all of us who knew him. I've already mentioned "Zipf Unfastened" and "marking and parking." He chided us gently about our foibles in our field and activities, particularly in "The Information Revolution  A Britisher's Perspective," which appeared in the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science, September/October 1975. Consider, for example, "It is true that most innovators are nuisances, but the converse is not true..." Or "Punchedcard equipment ...was now applied to such informational tasks as suited it... It was also applied to tasks that did not suit it... because (it) had one huge advantage... It existed." Or again, "Rapid growth of an information profession and a much greater information industry at the same time generated all the problems that arise when an activity becomes fashionable before it becomes understood." Again, "The pragmatics of individual communication, exhortation, and persuasion, under its older nonderogatory name of Rhetoric, is also at the heart of clear and concise presentation, these days becoming a minority sport." Yes, indeed, it behooved us to listen carefully.

Robert Fairthorne was 97 years old when he died and had been in failing health for some time. We have to admit that he deserves his rest, but we sure are going to miss him down here!

Madeline M. Henderson
Mechanicsville, Maryland


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@ 2000, American Society for Information Science