Online Information Review v. 33, no. 2, 2009 is a special issue on personal knowledge management.

  • Personal knowledge management: Putting the “person” back into the knowledge equation
    David Pauleen (pp. 221-224)

  • Personal knowledge management through communicating
    Rachel Jones (pp. 225-236)

  • Personalising organisational knowledge and organisationalising personal knowledge
    Zuopeng (Justin) Zhang (pp. 237-256)

  • Crossings: Embedding personal professional knowledge in a complex online community environment
    Jocelyn Cranefield, Pak Yoong (pp. 257-275)

  • Developing Connectivity: a PKM path for higher education workplace learners
    Blanca C. Garcia (pp. 276-297)

  • Conceptual data structures for personal knowledge management
    Max Völkel, Heiko Haller (pp. 298-315)

  • Predictors of diverse usage behaviour towards personal knowledge management systems
    Her-Sen Doong, Hui-Chih Wang (pp. 316-328)

  • The effective use of technology in personal knowledge management: A framework of skills, tools and user context
    Raj Agnihotri, Marvin D. Troutt (pp. 329-342)

If you study PIM, make sure to add “PKM”. To your querying/information monitoring list.

No comment.

new favorite paper.

Turnbull, David. (1993) “The Ad Hoc Collective Work of Building Gothic Cathedrals with Templates, String, and Geometry.” Science, Technology & Human Values 18: 315-340.

My keywords: design, science, technology, theory-vs-practice, tagging, work-practices, laboratories, experiments, knowledge-sharing, templates

Abstract: Gothic cathedrals like Chartres were built in a discontinuous process by groups of masons using their own local knowledge, measures, and techniques. They had neither plans nor knowledge of structural mechanics. The success of the masons in building such large complex innovative structures lies in the use of templates, string, constructive geometry, and social organization to assemble a coherent whole from the messy heterogeneous practices of diverse groups of workers. Chartres resulted from the ad hoc accumulation of the work of many men.

mind the gap.

Fodor on why Clarke and Chalmers’ Extended Mind Thesis is all wrongheaded.

Which leads me to want to underscore that when I talk about external or outboard brains, I do not mean that these things are actually part of brains (a term I am sloppily using to mean “minds” and not jiggly bundles of nerves).

I mean that the creation of external representations is epistemic action that lightens the cognitive load required to achieve our goals (1). The external representation is the product of mind + action; it is not mind.

Notebooks and iPhones and such are mind prostheses (2). A prosthetic, no matter how customized, is still “other.”

I put things in my .org files so that I do not have to remember them. I offload the task of memory because either I can’t remember or I don’t want to expend the effort to remember.

I create concept maps. I offload the cognitive work of holding a complex representation in working memory. This allows me to focus on thinking about the representation and what it represents, rather than trying to keep the representation itself in clear mental sight.

But my .org files and concept maps are no more a part of my actual mind than my dishwasher is somehow part of me standing at the sink doing dishes while I’m upstairs writing a blog post.

These things are just tools.

Just sayin…

p.s. Did you know there is a genus of moth named Prosthesis?
1. Kirsh, David & Maglio, Paul. (1994) “On distinguishing epistemic from pragmatic action.” Cognitive science 18(4): 513-549.

2. Prostheses isn’t the exact term that I want because it means a replacement for something lost or missing, and most of us are augmenting our cognitive processes, not replacing them. The most accurate term would be mind extension, but a) that is too easily confused with the Extended Mind Theory, and b) it sounds too much like spam I receive already.

good old academic snark.

From: Koschmann, Timothy, Kuutti, Kari and Hickman, Larry. (1998) The Concept of Breakdown in Heidegger, Leont’ev, and Dewey and Its Implications for Education. Mind, Culture, and Activity 5:1, 25 — 41

Indeed, in some cases the authors themselves recognized such links. Leont’ev (1981), for example, made reference to the writings of both Heidegger and Dewey. Dewey also apparently perceived some parallels between his own work and that of Heidegger. When first hearing a description of Sein und Zeit (Heidegger, 1953), Dewey was quoted as observing that “it sounded as if a German peasant were trying to render parts of Experience and Nature into his daily idiom” (Hook, 1962, p. 6).

I figured I should read this recently found article tonight while eating dinner. I haven’t really accomplished anything else today since when I went out to run my early-afternoon errands, my car went “thunk” and quit working as I was driving 45 mph on a busy two lane country-esque road. I was able to get off to the side of the road safely, but had to do the whole tow truck and hang out at the garage thing. Still don’t know what happened with my poor dirty purple car.

But anyway… get it? Breakdown? Breakdown. Har.

back to the everyday.

So my literature review for comps has been distributed to my committee members. It’s a tome [1], so I feel a little bad about dropping in the collective lap of my committee. But it was a very useful paper for me to put together.

One of the things I argue in this paper is that the predominant conception of everyday life in LIS is limited in its negativity. In her dissertation [2], Jenna Hartel surveyed everyday life information seeking (ELIS) studies and found 80% of the ELIS-related studies in her analysis focused on information seeking in either compromised everyday life situations such as illness or crisis, or in the everyday lives of populations seen as marginalized or disadvantaged.

This problem-centered orientation also pervades much of information behavior research outside “the everyday.” Information need has typically been conceived of as “having a problem” that information can help you solve. Our models of information behavior are full of anxieties and gaps and anomalous states.

In a recent paper, Hartel and Jarkko Kari argued for a shift of research attention to the higher things in life, which they define as “usually positive human phenomena, experiences, or activities that transcend the daily grind with its rationality and necessities” [3, p. 1132]. I concur that LIS has a taken a negative view of information phenomena and that as a discipline we should also attend to the role information plays in the the higher things of life.

However, they contrast the higher things in life with the “lower things” of the everyday, described as “relatively drab, uninteresting, and involuntary basic events that dominate people’s behavior” and “dominated by conformity, rules, rituals” (p. 1131). This is where I disagree. This view may be the going thing within LIS but we need not keep it.

I argue, citing works in sociology and critical studies, that everyday life does not exclude the pleasurable and the profound. There are myriad ways in which people bring the pleasurable, the profound, and the creative into their everyday lives. Michel de Certeau views the ordinary person in everyday life as an active, creative individual making and seizing opportunities, triumphing over imposed order, and making joyful discoveries [4, p. xix]. This is what makes life worth living.

It is with all of this dancing in my head that I stumbled upon this article in the NYTimes: Unboxed: Can You Become a Creature of New Habits?

Yes we can, and it is good for us:

Rather than dismissing ourselves as unchangeable creatures of habit, we can instead direct our own change by consciously developing new habits. In fact, the more new things we try — the more we step outside our comfort zone — the more inherently creative we become, both in the workplace and in our personal lives.

This bodes well for my creativity, as I am the queen of instituting new habits which are inevitably replaced with new and different habits. Heh.

Anyway, the connection with notions of the everyday is that even our habits are not thrust upon us. We can design our everyday routines creatively. Of course there are always constraints (money, limited time, the need to sleep at some point even though Provigil exists); but, we are not cogs in a drab machine. That everyday life provides us with opportunities for higher things, and not just a tedious daily grind, is supported by a further quote from the article:

The first thing needed for innovation is a fascination with wonder…But we are taught instead to ‘decide,’ just as our president calls himself ‘the Decider’ … to decide is to kill off all possibilities but one. A good innovational thinker is always exploring the many other possibilities. … You cannot have innovation…unless you are willing and able to move through the unknown and go from curiosity to wonder.

Ah, this last bit brings to mind some of Henry Miller’s rhapsodies:

The prisoner is not the one who has committed a crime, but the one who clings to his crime and lives it over and over. We are all guilty of crime, the great crime of not living life to the full. But we are all potentially free. We can stop thinking of what we have failed to do and do whatever lies within our power. What the these powers that are in us may be no one has truly dared to imagine. That they are infinite we will realize the day we admit to ourselves that imagination is everything. Imagination is the voice of daring. If there is anything God-like about God it is that. He dared to imagine everything [from Sexus, I know not which page].

How amazing the everyday is! And when did I become such an optimist?

But if anyone asks, I’m going to chalk up the length of my lit review to innovative thinking and the need to explore many possibilities and connections. It’s not just that I appear to be constitutionally unable to write concisely.

1. Final version was 171 pages, citing 663 sources.
2. Hartel, Jenna. 2007. “Information activities, resources & spaces in the hobby of gourmet cooking.” PhD dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles.
3. Kari, Jarkko and Jenna Hartel. 2007. Information and higher things in life: addressing the pleasurable and the profound in information science . Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 58 (8): 1131-47.
4. de Certeau, Michel. 1984. The practice of everyday life. translator Steven Rendall. Berkeley: University of California Press


Today I’ve been looking at several of the papers from Spink, Amanda H., and Charles Cole, eds. (2006) New directions in human information behavior. Dordrect: Springer.

I’ve been rather disappointed. The whole book seems to have been slapped together fairly carelessly, including papers by the editors. Maybe especially in papers by the editors.

The most egregious problem I’ve run across is this:

What do we currently know about information-organizing behavior? Human information-organizing behavior (HIOB) is the process of analyzing and classifying materials into defined categories, for example, the Dewey Decimal Classification System (McIlwaine, 1997). Spink and Currier (in press) have defined HIOB as the process of analyzing and classifying materials into defined categories. They give as an example the Dewey Decimal Classification System (McIlwaine, 1997). While the example they give is a document organization system, their definition lends itself to creating a cognitive framework for HIOB. Few studies have examined human’s information-organizing behavior in relation to other information behaviors. (footnotebegin)Spink, Amanda H., Minsoo Park, and Charles Cole. 2006. “Multitasking and co-ordinating framework for human information behavior.” Chapter 8 in Amanda H. Spink, and Charles Cole, eds. New directions in human information behavior. Dordrect: Springer, 137-54(footnoteend)

Ok, so it’s a bit petty to pick on a cut-and-paste error. God knows I’ve made them (though I’d like to think I’d catch one before I published it…)

But that’s not the main problem here, even though it occurs also in this gem (footnotebegin)Cole, Charles, and John E. Leide. 2006. “A Cognitive Framework for Human Information Behavior: The Place of Metaphor in Human Information Organizing Behavior.” Amanda H. Spink, and Charles Cole, eds. New directions in human information behaviour. Dordrect: Springer, 171-202(footnoteend), which I’m not even going to go into except to quote:

According to the modular architecture view, a dramatic adaptation occurred 35,000–70,000 years ago (Mithen, 1996, 1998): the formerly strictly modular human cognitive architecture, containing firmly defined and task-specialized human intelligence modules. Then suddenly transformed, developing gateway mechanisms between the separate intelligence modules. So that data from the specialized module databases could flow the one into the other. When the flow occurred, the human could see their environment from a different perspective.

I will pick on the claim that “Few studies have examined human’s information-organizing behavior in relation to other information behaviors.” Few studies except those few little personal information management studies… to which I have at least 272 citations in my Procite database. Isn’t PIM in large part the study of how people organize, manage, and re-find information that they have previously sought, monitored for, foraged for, or encountered? Is that not some sort of information behavior in relation to information seeking? Ummm…. But that isn’t the thing that is really irritating me at this point. At least that gives me something good to talk about in my lit review.

Nor is it that they define human information-organizing behavior (HIOB) as “the process of analyzing and classifying materials into defined categories, for example, the Dewey Decimal Classification System” when:

  • much of cognitive science has mainly agreed for quite some time that the human cognitive architecture is not made up of well-defined categories like “classes”; (footnotebegin)Rosch, Eleanor H., and Carolyn B. Mervis. 1975. “Family Resemblances: Studies in Internal Structure of Categories.” Cognitive Psychology 7, no. 4: 573-605(footnoteend), (footnotebegin)Smith, Edward E., and Douglas L. Medin. 1981. Categories and Concepts. Cognitive Science Series. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press(footnoteend), (footnotebegin)Lakoff, George. 1987. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press(footnoteend)
  • Elin Jacob has repeatedly clarified the difference between classes and categories, and classification and categorization; (footnotebegin)Jacob, Elin K. 1991. “Classification and categorization: Drawing the line.” In Proceedings of the 2nd ASIS SIG/CR Classification research workshop, Washington, D.C., October 27, 1991. 67-83(footnoteend), (footnotebegin)Jacob, Elin K. 2004. “Classification and categorization: A difference that makes a difference.” Library Trends 52, no. 3: 515-40(footnoteend) and,
  • There are myriad ways in which people organize information that do not involve some formal process of subject analysis and classification. There’s so much research on this, especially in PIM and CSCW, that I’m not even going to cite stuff here.

Nope, that all irritates me, but again, I have a whole section in my lit review on the wrong-headedness of this definition.

What I can’t really complain about in my lit review is the fact that in this and the multiple other studies where Spink and friends have used this exact definition for human information organization behavior, they include “the Dewey Decimal Classification System (McIlwaine, 1997).”


The problem with that is that (McIlwaine, 1997) is an article about the history and development of the Universal Decimal Classification System (UDC), not the Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC):

McIlwaine, I. C. (1997). The Universal Decimal Classification: Some factors concerning its origins, development, and influence. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 48(4), 331–339.

UDC and DDC are two completely different classification systems. It’s not as if the McIlwaine article is being shy about what classification system it is about; it’s pretty darned clear from the title. There is a small bit in the beginning of the article about how UDC was initially based on DDC but the two fairly rapidly moved in different directions. So if you read the first little section, it is made abundantly clear the two are not the same.

And it is not as if there is a paucity of literature on DDC.

And not one referee at any point on these multiple articles has said, “Hey why are you citing a paper on UDC here when you are talking about DDC?”


Citations are important. Citing something that is actually on the topic you’re writing about is usually a good move.

read today.

Barreau, Deborah K. The persistence of behavior and form in the organization of personal information. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. forthcoming.

Bernstein, Michael; Van Kleek, Max; Kargar, David, and Schraefel, Monica. Information scraps: how and why information eludes our personal information management tools. Transactions on Information Systems. in review.

Danskin, Alan. Tomorrow never knows: the end of cataloguing? Presented at. World library and information congress: 72nd IFLA General Conference and Council, IFLA-CDNL Alliance for Bibliographic Standards; Seoul. 2006 Jun 6; c2006.

Hertzum, Morten. Small-scale classification schemes: A Field study of requirements engineering. Computer Supported Cooperative Work. 2004 Jan; 13(1):35-61.

Kwasnik, Barbara H. The Role of Classification Structures in Reflecting and Building Theory. Advances in classification research : proceedings of the … ASIS SIG/CR Classification Research Workshop; 1992; c1992: 63-81.

Payne, Stephen J. A descriptive study of mental models. Behaviour and Information Technology. 1991; 10(1):3-21.

Schmidt, Kjeld and Simone, Carla. Coordination mechanisms: towards a conceptual foundation of CSCW system design. Computer Supported Cooperative Work. 1996; 5(2/3):155-200.

Star, Susan Leigh. Grounded classification: Grounded theory and faceted classification. Library Trends. 1998 Fall; 47(2):218-232.

Wu, Harris; Gordon, Michael D., and DeMaagd, Kurt. Document co-organization in an online knowledge community. CHI 2004; Vienna. 2004; c2004.

Tomorrow some heavy note-wrangling and writing begins.

read today

Turner, James M. and Bélanger, François Papik. Escaping from Bable: Improving the terminology of mental models in the literature of human-computer interaction. Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science. 1996; 21(3/4):35-58.

Miksa, Francis L. The Concept of the Universe of Knowledge and the Purpose of LIS Classification. In: Williamson, Nancy J. and Hudon, Michèle, Eds. Classification research for knowledge representation and organization : proceedings of the 5th International Study Conference on Classification Research; Toronto, ON, Canada. New York: Elsevier; 1992; c1991: 101-126.

Boter, Jaap and Wedel, Michel. User categorization of public library collections. Library & Information Science Research. 2005; 27(2):190-202.

Grinter, Rebecca E. Words about Images: Coordinating Community in Amateur Photography. Computer Supported Cooperative Work. 2005; 14(2):161-188.

Hjørland, Birger and Pedersen, Karsten Nissen. A substantive theory of classification for information retrieval. Journal of Documentation. 2005; 61(5):582-597; ISSN: 0022-0418.

Lu, Hsi-Peng and Hsiao, Kuo-Lun. Understanding intention to continuously share information on weblogs. Internet Research. 2007; 17(4):345-361.

Hudon, Michèle; Mas, Sabine, and Gazo, Dominique. Structure, logic, and semantics in ad hoc classification schemes applied to Web-based libraries in the field of education. Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science-Revue Canadienne Des Sciences De L Information Et De Bibliotheconomie. 2005; 29(3):265-288; ISSN: 1195-096X.

Thompson, E. D. and Kaarst-Brown, M. L. Sensitive Information: a Review and Research Agenda. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 2005 Feb 1; 56(3):245-257.

Olson, Hope A. The power to name: locating the limits of subject representation in libraries. Dordrecht: Kluwer; 2002. 261 pages. (Chapters 1-2)

read today…

1. Barat, Agnes Hajdu. 2007. Human perception and knowledge organization: visual imagery. Library Hi Tech 25, no. 3: 338-51.

2. Chen, Chaomei. 2007. Holistic sense-making: conflicting opinions, creative ideas, and collective intelligence. Library Hi Tech 25, no. 3: 311-27.

3. Enser, Peter G. B., Christine J. Sandom, Jonathon S. Hare, and Paul H. Lewis. 2007. Facing the reality of semantic image retrieval. Journal of Documentation 63, no. 4: 465-81.

4. Hepworth, Mark. 2004. A Framework for Understanding User Requirements for an Information Service: Defining the Needs of Informal Carers. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 55, no. 8: 695-708.

5. Jacob, Elin K., and Aaron Loehrlein. 2003. What ontologies are not:a [draft] theoretical framework for the analysis of representational systems. Presented at School of Library and Information Science, Indiana University-Bloomington.

6. Kipp, Margaret E. I, and D. Grant Campbell. 2006. Patterns and inconsistencies in collaborative tagging systems: an examination of tagging practices. Proceedings of the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

7. Kipp, Margaret E. I. 2007. Tagging for Health Information Organisation and Retrieval. Poster presented at Joint Conference on Digital Libraries.

8. Kipp, Margaret E. I. 2007. Tagging Practices on Research Oriented Social Bookmarking Sites. Presented at Canadian Association for Information Science.

9. Pattern, Dave. 2007. Are you happy with your OPAC? Update 6, no. 10: 32-34.


This morning I finally got around to reading Thomas Mann’s most recent essay, “The Peloponnesian War and the Future of Reference, Cataloging, and Scholarship in Research Libraries” [.pdf].

HIGHLY recommended for everyone who has anything to do with research libraries.

Recommended for anyone because just in reading it, I learned one bibliographic research trick I didn’t know before (which could have been saving me LOADS of time recently).

Basically, this essay is a passionate yet reasoned, articulate argument that the direction many researchers/theoreticians in our field and library managers seem convinced is the right one for research libraries is an assault on the culture of scholarship and the ability to conduct scholarly research.

Keyword searching, relevance ranking, folksonomies, federated search, etc are useful additions to our systems, and are obvious good solutions for the Web. But they are not acceptable substitutes for professional subject cataloging and all of the structure it brings to the catalog and the library’s carefully built collections.

It is dangerous to conflate the the needs of person doing a quick information search with the scholar doing scholarly research, who engages in an intensive process of iterative information seeking and knowledge building.

Libraries are based on principles that serve the needs of scholars. Are we ready to admit that scholarship is archaic, unnecessary, and not worth supporting in today’s world? In today’s market? It’s not sexy. It’s not quick and easy. The cash value of it isn’t readily apparent.

I think LIS educators should definitely read this, and not just those who teach subject cataloging. It is highly relevant to reference and bibliographic instruction as well.

We need to continue to teach and champion the power and relevance of the principles on which libraries are based, without either clinging to the way things have been done in the past or claiming that everything needs to change.

(and this post is an example of why i don’t blog more. i’ve spent far too much time on it and it is still all over the place and doesn’t make my point well. practice?)