AM08 2008 START Conference Manager    

Finding and Providing Context

Michael Buckland, Ray R. Larson and Ryan Shaw

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


Understanding a document (or anything else) depends on knowing the context. What were the circumstances of its origin? Where and when did it originate? Who was involved? What were its causes and consequences? What other documents could provide explanations? Over time genres of reference works (encyclopedias, place name gazetteers, etc.) have evolved and, in a paper environment, libraries, especially reference library collections, are designed to enable readers to look for explanation and context. We provide an progress report on a project to show how the same well-structure help could be provided in an online environment. Three technical developments will be presented:

1. A “Context Finder”: Whenever an online text is being read, a search interface can be invoked to support a search in an appropriate searchable resource for a place, person, topic, or event and display the explanation.

2. A “Context Builder”: An enhanced Context Finder with the ability to insert the search query and choice on resource as mark-up in the text.

3. “Context Providing”: When links to an explanatory resource have been marked-up in a text, the links can be extracted, reversed, and pasted into the resource such that the resource becomes enriched with links to mentions of the place, person, or topic in the text. As of February 2008, a prototype Context Finder accessing a limited range of resources is being used with biographical articles in the Wikipedia and with periodical articles on Irish culture and history. By the ASIST Annual Meeting we expect to be able to describe and demonstrate a more extensive Context Finder, a Context Builder, and an example of “Context Providing.”

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