Books with titles like Amp your MySpace Page just seem like such a waste of paper. No offense to the author of this fine work, but do MySpace pages really need to be amped? I mean, really?
The list of publications in computer science on Wikipedia is being considered for deletion, which I only discovered when I went looking for it as a reference. This kind of list, though it stretches the 'encyclopedic' definition that WP strives for, is probably one of the better kinds of articles that we offer; as any indexer knows, the intellectual effort of gathering together information is valuable. This list needs work, surely, but it also is important and worth keeping. As someone who is, because of their job, acquainting themselves with parts of the field that they don't know much about, I only wish that the list was longer and more complete.
I've ordered a book called Computer Science and Computing: A guide to the Literature, by Michael Knee, which was published in 2006; as far as I know this is the only stand-alone guide to the CS literature. I'm looking forward to seeing it.
The other set of presentations I saw at ASIS&T that were very interesting to me were included in a session called Anarchists, Pirates, Ideologists, and Disasters: New Digital Trends and Their Impacts. It was great fun. I did feel some obligation to go, as one of the presentations was about trolling in Wikipedia, and another was about Hacktivism, which is a subject near and dear to me as I studied and wrote a great deal about it in undergrad. The other presentations, interestingly, were about ICT response to disasters, such as telecom response to Hurricane Katrina, where the presenter focussed on the clash between "ad-hoc" responders, such as community wireless advocates, and formal military/telco respondants. All of these stories are about the conflict between marginalized and mainstream, about disruptive voices and whether they are productive, and about the fine distinctions between a hactivist and a black-hat hacker, or a legitimate complainant and a troll, or a helpful presence and someone in the way. These stories are also about the ways that outsiders can use ICT to take matters into their own hands that both intrude into and are impossible in the physical world. It was fascinating, and it reminded me that I have unfinished research on hackers that is still interesting to me, and perhaps more relevant now than ever.
Recently I attended the ASIS&T annual meeting, held in Austin, TX. It was enjoyable and informative as usual, though I was sick most of the time. I gave a poster about Wikipedia, which was well-received and which I'll feature in a later post.
I found two sets of sessions at ASIS&T most interesting. I'll come back & insert names & links later.
The first set were all about scientific data, and the management thereof. There was a mixed group of presenters, including some working scientists, who talked about the problems of managing enormous amounts of data. One presenter, who was a data manager with a team of polar (ice & snow) researchers was particularly interesting, talking about how having someone in the field with the scientists entering data on the spot or the day-of was helpful in reducing error. Having spent a little time transcribing other people's field data, long after the point of collection, I can well imagine that this is true; it's hard to interpret other people's scrawls and question marks long after they've forgotten what it is they were trying to convey.
Another scientist was from the NASA Goddard Space center, and was talking about the explosion of data that is likely to come out of space science in the next few years, as NASA and other agencies move away from a single collector (e.g. Hubble) & towards a multiple sensor network (e.g. up to a thousand smaller probes launched into various parts of the atmosphere. There's going to be a real problem with what to do with all this data, how to tag it, archive it, etc. Currently NASA apparently does accessible backups on disk and dark archive backups on magnetic tape, with a media refresh every 5-10 years. Still this doesn't solve the problem of how to get data out to the scientists who need it.
Finally, there was an information science researcher who talked about his work with physical chemists, and how they used data, who talked about a) the difficulty of tagging and organizing chemical data (something long-known in the field); and b) how scientists could use data to do work even if they didn't collect the data in the first place -- that is, large datasets provide a new way of doing science as they afford an opportunity to do analysis without having to collect the data oneself. This, of course, assumes that the data is properly tagged and managed (so people know what they're looking at, irregularities are noted in the metadata, etc) -- which is the role of the information scientist. Interestingly, in this context, data is viewed as a resource -- not all scientists wanted to share their data because they didn't want to get scooped in publication.