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Genre emerges as a result of communication in a discourse community. A genre is what makes people who are socially connected able to convey and perceive information in a more efficient and productive manner because both the form and the content are merged into a recognizable package that is understood by participants in that community.
While the genre concept has gained currency in the information field over the last decade, there remains considerable disagreement about its value and application. But as collection sizes of digital libraries grow, access to materials through keyword-based searches becomes more problematic. Can genre help? The research has investigated several aspects of using digital genre for improving information retrieval. Work has included proposals for what constitutes a digital genre, the automatic and manual classification of documents by genre, usersí ability to recognize the shape of digital documents, the solicitation of usersí genre terms for digital documents (e.g., personal homepages or blogs), and usersí ability to recognize and agree on the genre of digital documents. Yet, no one has been able to show that retrieval by genre can be effectively implemented. Why not? What directions should research take to bring this seemingly intuitive concept to a working reality?
Researchers, with interests and experience in the examination of genre structures in document design, use, and retrieval, will engage in a spirited and lively discussion with each other and the audience in an attempt to develop a more cohesive sense of the genre concept and its utility in digital libraries. The session aims first to establish an understanding of what we know about genre, and then to discuss what the remaining questions are and how we can find answers. Between the panelistsí ideas and contributions from the audience, we hope to develop a research agenda for the future.
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