Archive for the ‘KO’ Category

DANS: A Catalyst for Knowledge Organization and Structure Research*   no comments

1.0 KO and KS Research: From the real world

Research is the formal, self-conscious process of inquiry for the discovery and production of knowledge and the subsequent explication of theory. Knowledge Organization (KO) is the “science of the conceptual order of knowledge” (Smiraglia 2014, 4) and Knowledge Structure (KS) is a research paradigm in which the structural tools of KO are applied to syntactic representations [of knowledge] that yield structural classes [for] multi-dimensional understanding” (Smiraglia 2020, 46). Thus, research—formal discovery for theory-building—in KO is devoted to unlocking the conceptual elements of that which is known, while, simultaneously, research in KS is devoted to revealing the underlying multi-dimensional fabric and anatomy of knowledge.

Discovery of concepts, their orders, and the subtrate implications of those orders must be rooted in real-world problems. This is why even so-called “theoretical” research (this is research that tests hypotheses in order to reject alternatives until a theory can emerge) must be rooted in milieus that present questions that need specific applications as answers.


Instantiation: The multidecade evolution of the theory of instantiation began with the problem of disambiguating clusters of catalog entries for musical works (think: Beethoven Symphony…. (Smiraglia 1989)) but has been demonstrated to have relevance in evolutionary biology (Greenberg 2009). A real world “problem” presents a question that has larger implications and on analysis leads to structural conclusions such as that the substrate of RDF triples that constitute the Semantic Web are themselves (as are all information objects) to the process of instantiation (realization in time) and therefore constitute classes that require disambiguation (Smiraglia 2008).

Nanoscale patterns in the outer skin layers of humans (Adams et al. 2023): Biologists studying the exoskelotal structure of roundworm nematodes who have transparent structures have discovered “pillars” that form a kind of “scaffolding,” forming not only an “intricate architecture” but “complex structures and intricate patterning.” Patterns, of course, indicate clusters, which can be described as classes, which will need, in turn, disambiguating. A very real-world biological structure presents also a substrate biological knowledge structure. (See: )

2.0 Catalysts for KO and KS Research

The science of knowledge organization owes its formalization to founder Ingetraut Dahlberg, who laid out a plan for independent institutes that would have as their sole objective the study of concepts and knowledge structures (Dahlberg 2007; 2008).

The Institute for Knowledge Organization and Structure, Inc. ( ) is the first institute developed with this sole task as its mission.

At least three major coordinated research environments have generated a fair amount of publication. These groups were all formed by prolific researchers in KO whose work was grounded in real-world applications and the construction of KO systems (KOSs). Ultimately, each of these groups has served as a catalyst for critical research in KO, and arguably in KS. The entire domain of KO, then, relies to some extent on the input of catalytical groups to constantly massage and ultimately deepen the granularity of the domain’s intension.

The oldest and most revered is the Sarada Ranganathan Endowment and the Department of Library & Information Science, University of Mysore, Mysore, India. The Ranganathan endowment produces annually a series of lectures on critical problems in knowledge organization and publishes the journal now titled Journal of Information and Knowledge.

The prolific Brazilian group GPFAPOI: Formação e atuação profissional em produção e organização da informação (Training and professional performance in production and organization of information) formed in 1995 by José Augusto Chaves Guimarães and Natália Bolfarini Tognoli at the Faculty of Philosophy and Sciences, Marília Campus of São Paulo State University Júlio de Mesquita Filho – UNESP ( ). The group has been influential in domain analysis, the ethics of knowledge organization (Martínez-Ávila et al. 2015), and archival applications of KO (Guimarães and Tognoli 2015), among a host of other topics.

Also notably prolific was the Knowledge Organization Research Group (KOrg) at the School of Information Studies of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Originally formed in 2008, the group eventually hosted international conferences on ethics in KO, held annual retreats, invited guest fellows to join them on campus, and generated three anthologies: Cultural Frames of Knowledge (Smiraglia and Lee 2012), Ontology for Knowledge Organization (Smiraglia and Lee 2015), and Dimensions of Knowledge: Facets for Knowledge Organization (Smiraglia and Lee 2017)). Through interaction with the CIDOC-CRM Conceptual Reference Model for cultural heritage ontology ( ) and the Dutch Virtual Knowledge Studio (Daga, Scharnhorst and Smiraglia 2023, 137) project “Knowledge Lab,” the group served as a catalyst for nascent research in KS.

3.0 DANS

DANS (officially Data Archiving and Networked Services), is an institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW or Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen ) and of the Dutch Research Council (I or Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek ). DANS is described as the “Dutch national centre of expertise and repository for research data” ( ), supporting a wide bench of services for scholars to make their data available for research. At present there are data stations for social sciences and humanities, archaeology, life health and medical sciences, and physical and technical sciences. DANS also supports a Data Vault, a shared service called DataVerse, and a wide program of Data Expertise, which brings together researchers, data professionals and other archives to work for sustainable storage and sharing of research data.

DANS has for many years supported a group of honorary fellows, distinguished researchers from related sciences whose own work intersects with the goals of DANS. The present essay shows how DANS has been one of the most productive institutional catalysts for research in KO and KS.

3.1 The KOSo Observatory

The Knowledge Organization System Observatory, KOSo, was a project of DANS begun in 2017 to create a centralized directory to knowledge organization systems. The term “observatory” arose from conversations in the knowledge organization community over time. The goal was to create a repository from which researchers could interact with KOSs. The result of the project was a complex spreadsheet replete with live hyperlinks to extant systems in the social sciences, humanities, and life sciences. The results of the project are available in IKOS’ website: (Coen, Smiraglia, Doorn and Scharnhorst 2019).

3.2 The NARCIS Classification

NARCIS (National Academic Research and Collaborations Information System) was a DANS-maintained national research portal for Dutch scholars. An open access repository of publications and datasets was combined with texts of peer-reviewed publications. To facilitate research and retrieval a classification was created and named for NARCIS. The classification allowed symbolic representation of not only the contents of the portal but also of the Dutch national research milieu. As part of efforts to study the NARCIS Classification the methodology known as “comparative classification” was generated. In comparative classification, sets of ontical positions (essentially concept statements) are classified using two or more different KOSs to quantify aspects of each, such as granularity, expressivity, synthetic capability, etc.

In September 2018 DANS hosted a two-day colloquium ““Trajectories for Research: Fathoming the Promise of the NARCIS Classification,”” 27-28 September. The proceedings from this colloquium were published in a special issue of Knowledge Organization (v. 46, no. 5 2019). In addition to providing a forum for detailed discussion about the NARCIS classification, the colloquium also succeeded in bringing together diverse points of view about national research classifications.

3.3 Digging into the Knowledge Graph

Digging Into the Knowledge Graph (Di4kg ) was a project funded under the Trans-Atlantic Platform’s Round Four Digging Into Data Challenge. The purpose of the challenge was to explore sustainability of data-intensive projects. Di4kg was specifically designed to explore best practices for Linked Open Data (LOD) in KOSs in general, and in the social sciences and humanities in particular. Two use cases comprised the majority of work in the four-year project. The humanities project was the creation of LOD for the contents of the Renaissance polyphony CMME (Computerized Mensural Music Editing) project (, which was accomplished by IKOS using existing library LOD venues coordinated through the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF ). The social sciences project involved the UNSPSC United Nations Standard Products and Services Code classification ( ). The project concluded with the publication of an anthology Linking Knowledge: Linked Data for Knowledge Organization (Smiraglia and Scharnhorst 2021).

3.4 Visualization of topic clusters in bibliographic databases

Wang and Koopman (2019) also presented a conference paper and a more extensive journal article about their work with the Ariadne information retrieval tool developed experimentally to investigate topical clusters in the OCLC bibliographic database (Koopman, Wang and Scharnhorst 2015; 2017).

3.5 DANS Infrastructure as Knowledge Structure

Another collaboration featured the knowledge infrastructure represented by DANS, and in particular its role in mediating information exchange among stakeholders (Borgman, Scharnhorst and Golshan 2019).

3.6 KOSs for Digital Humanities

September 2023 saw a workshop at DANS: “Knowledge Organisation Systems: Digital humanities practices and archiving challenges. How much semantic interoperability is feasible?” Approximately simultaneously a poster was prepared for the first post-pandemic international conference of the Association for Information Science and Technology, London, October 2023 (Scharnhorst et al. 2023) The poster, like the workshop, brought together many research streams in which DANS participates, most notable in this case DARIAH (Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities .

4.0 Conclusion: Research Interactions and Alliances for Catalyzing KO and KS

Given that research is the rigorous pursuit of solutions through discovery and that research in KO and KS must be rooted in real-world problems. The maturation of KO as a science has been assisted by a set of very prolific catalyst research groups. DANS clearly has become one of these engines of discovery in KO and KS. Although the mission of DANS is not primarily that of a research institute, it is clear from the evidence compiled here that through the very real-world querying of applications problems in KO and KS DANS has taken a place of honor in the emergence of theoretical research as substrate for very real-world KOS applications. From the KOSo Observatory to the role of semantic interoperability, DANS has catalyzed streams of thought that point to the evolution of new paradigms for research in KO and KS.


Adams, Jennifer R. G., Murugesan Pooranachithra, Erin M. Jyo, Sherry Li Zheng, Alexandr Goncharov, Jennifer R. Crew, James M. Kramer, Yishi Jin, Andreas M. Ernst and Andrew D. Chisholm. 2023. “Nanoscale patterning of collagens in C. elegans apical extracellular matrix.” Nature Communications 14, article no. 7506. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-43058-9

Borgman, Christine L., Andrea Scharnhorst and Milena S. Golshan. 2019. “Digital Data Archives as Knowledge Infrastructures: Mediating Data Sharing and Reuse.” Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology 70, no. 8: 888-904.

Coen, Gerard, Richard P. Smiraglia, Peter Doorn and Andrea Scharnhorst. 2019. “Observing trajectories of KOSs Across Space and Time: The DANS KOS Observatory (KOSo).” In Proceedings from North American Symposium on Knowledge Organization, Vol. 7. Drexel University. DOI:

Daga, Enrico, Andrea Scharnhorst and Richard Smiraglia. 2023. “Ordering the World, Ordering our Thinking, Ordering Interdisciplinary Collaboration—On Knowledge Organization and Ontology Engineering.” In Transferability: Reflections on Planning and Knowledge Organization, ed. H. A. Mieg and A. Scharnhorst. Wissenschaftsforschung Jarhbuch 2021. Berlin: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, pp. 133-153.

Dahlberg, Ingetraut. 2007. “Interview with Ingetraut Dahlberg.” Knowledge Organization 35, no.2/3: 82-85.

Dahlberg, Ingetraut. 2008. “Concepts and Terms – ISKO’s Major Challenge.” Knowledge Organization 36, nos. 2/3: 169-177.

Greenberg, Jane. 2009. “Theoretical Considerations of Lifecycle Modeling: An Analysis of the Dryad Repository Demonstrating Automatic Metadata Propagation, Inheritance, and Value System Adoption.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 47, no. 3: 380-402. DOI: 10.1080/01639370902737547

Guimarães, José Augusto Chaves and Natália Bolfarini Tognoli. 2015. “Provenance as a Domain Analysis Approach in Archival Knowledge Organization.” Knowledge Organization 42, no. 8: 562-569. DOI:10.5771/0943-7444-2015-8-562

Koopman, Rob, Shenghui Wang and Andrea Scharnhorst. 2015. “Contextualization of Topics – Browsing through Terms, Authors, Journals and Cluster Allocations.” In Proceedings of ISSI 2015 Istanbul, 15th International Society of Scientometrics and Informetrics Conference, Istanbul, Turkey, 29 June to 3 July, 2015, ed. A. A. Salah, Y. Tonta, A. A. Akdag Salah, C.  Sugimoto and U. Al. Leuven: ISSI Society, pp. 1042-1053.

Koopman, Rob, Shenghui Wang and Andrea Scharnhorst. 2017. “Contextualization of Topics: Browsing Through the Universe of Bibliographic Information.” Scientometrics 111, no. 2: 1119-1139.

Martínez-Ávila, Daniel, José Augusto Chaves Guimarães, Fabio Assis Pinho, and Melodie J. Fox. 2015. “The Representation of Ethics and Knowledge Organization in the WoS and LISTA Databases.” Knowledge Organization 42, no. 5: 269-275. DOI:10.5771/0943-7444-2015-5-269

Scharnhorst, Andrea, Pascal Flohr, Vyacheslav Tykhonov, Jerry De Vries, Hella Hollander, Jetze Touber, Wim Hugo, Richard Smiraglia, Yann Le France, Ronald Siebes and Enno Meijers. 2023. “Knowledge Organisation Systems in the Humanities: Semantic Interoperability in Practice.” Poster. Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology

Smiraglia, Richard P. 1989. “Music Uniform Titles: An Exercise in Collocating Works.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 9, no. 3 (1989): 97-114.

Smiraglia, Richard P. 2008. “A Meta‐analysis of Instantiation as a Phenomenon of Information Objects.” Culture del testo e del documento 9 n° 25: 5-25.

Smiraglia, Richard P. 2014. The Elements of Knowledge Organization. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

Smiraglia, Richard P. 2020. “The Relationship between Knowledge Organization and Knowledge Structure.” IKOS Bulletin 2, no. 2: 46-49.

Smiraglia, Richard P. and Andrea Scharnhorst, eds. 2021. Linking Knowledge: Linked Open Data for Knowledge Organization and Visualization. Baden-Baden: Ergon Verlag.

Smiraglia, Richard P. and Hur-li Lee, eds. 2012. Cultural Frames of Knowledge. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag.

Smiraglia, Richard P. and Hur-li Lee, eds. 2015. Ontology for Knowledge Organization. Würzburg: Ergon-Verlag.

Smiraglia, Richard P. and Hur-li Lee, eds. 2017. Dimensions of Knowledge: Facets for Knowledge Organization. Würzburg: Ergon-Verlag.

*Excerpted from: Smiraglia, Richard P. 2023. “DANS: A Catalyst for Knowledge Organization and Structure Research.” IKOS Bulletin 5, no.2: 109-126. [57 references].

Written by admin on January 18th, 2024

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Iconic Knowledge, Iconic KO*   1 comment

“Iconic .…” According to the Oxford English Dictionary Online the word means “Of or pertaining to an icon, image, figure, or representation; of the nature of a portrait.” The first usage reported there was in 1656. OED also has variant definitions for “use in worship” and Semiotics. Ah, there we are: … “pertaining to or resembling an icon” (first usage reported in 1939. And finally: “designating a person or thing regarded as representative of a culture or movement; important or influential in a particular (cultural) context.” WordNet has: “relating to or having the characteristics of an icon.”

We all know, I hope, what an icon is. I have many that I have collected on my travels to Crete. In Orthodox spirituality, these icons are pathways to prayer. It is a bit difficult to explain, but the idea is that in praying with an icon (by focusing on the figures in meditative prayer) the saint in the icon is able to enter your consciousness and become a vector for your prayer.

The word has become ubiquitous in the news these days, to mean “emblematic.” I have to laugh, because once not so long ago when I used the word “iconic” in a manuscript I was told it would not be understood by LIS readers (people, mostly, with PhDs). At the same time I was writing regularly for the Philadelphia Gay News with instructions to write at a fourth grade reading level, and of course, the word “iconic” was part of that vocabulary. Well, we hear the word constantly these days. Unfortunately, that means it has lost a lot of its meaning as it has become colloquially “iconic.” It should mean “stands for a gate to spirituality.” Too often instead it just means “looks familiar.”

In KO what does the word mean? In KO it preserves aspects of its original connotation: something precious that is a gateway to better understanding, particularly with regard to visualization of culturally representative entities.

How do we at IKOS turn our own work into iconic work? We are rooted in empirical methods. Our work is eminently replicable. We report our references impeccably. For us, references are the evidence that what we describe is truly representative of a concept. Dahlberg implied and other since have written that the concept was the “atomic” element of knowledge organization (Dahlberg 2006; Smiraglia and Van den Heuvel 2013). This means that concepts paint pictures in people’s brains, those pictures are shared culturally, and from the very tiniest impression (what Peirce (1991, 181) might have called a “representamen”), the shared conception grows. There is “cultural synergy” (Smiraglia 2014)—the concept enters a knowledge organization system (KOS) that is itself a cultural disseminator and thus the concept becomes part of the cultural consciousness. This is then the iconic status of a concept.

At IKOS we are dedicated to sorting out the particularities of concepts, including the concept of “iconic.” We invite you to help us reclaim this critical term from public incoherence.


Dahlberg, Ingetraut. 2006. “Knowledge Organization: A New Science?” Knowledge Organization 33: 11-19.

Oxford English Dictionary Online, s.v. “Iconic,” accessed 12 October 2019.

Peirce, Charles Sanders. 1991. Peirce on Signs: Writings on Semiotic, ed. by James Hoopes. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Pr.

Smiraglia, Richard P. and Charles van den Heuvel. 2013. “Classifications and Concepts: Towards an Elementary Theory of Knowledge Interaction.” Journal of Documentation 69: 360-83.

WordNet. Search 3.1, s.v. “Iconic.”accessed 12 October 2019.

*Published in print as: Smiraglia, Richard P. 2019. “Iconic Knowledge, Iconic KO.” IKOS Bulletin 1, no.1 : 6-7.

Written by admin on October 10th, 2022

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False taxonomy   no comments

Posted at 5:47 pm in ISKO,KO,taxonomy

In The Economist for June 23rd 2018 a fascinating article appeared in a column headed “French Connection” and titled “Forget McKinsey: A Gallic Intellectual is the key to controlling how businesses are perceived.”

I was surprised, then, to discover as I read along, that the entire article was about the power of taxonomy. Lights went off in my brain and I was very excited to see something about the actual work of knowledge organization appearing in the pages of The Economist.

My excitement was short-lived, however, as I got all the way to the end of the article finding absolutely no mention of the domain of knowledge organization, ISKO, and no reference to any of the very active authors in knowledge organization in general and not even to any of those writing about taxonomy.

The article describes how businesses variously make use of taxonomies, not only in the conduct of their day to day business but also in controlling how they are perceived–“digital” and “high-tech” are exciting and “traditional” is not, or so it seems from the article. The French connection, such as it is, is through Foucault, who is explicitly named. Of course, many of us in KO-land cite Foucault, teach Foucault, and regularly introduce new students to the intracacies of The Order of Things and The Archeology of Knowledge. Sigh ….

In this morning’s opening keynote at the 15th International ISKO Conference in Porto, Portugal, David Bawden pointed to just this article as an example of how ubiquitous knowledge organization is, thus reminding me I had been carting the actual paper article around with me for two weeks waiting to feel like blogging about it. (Bawden’s talk was titled “Supporting truth and promoting understanding: knowledge organization and the curation of the infosphere,” and it appears on pages 17-22 of the conference proceedings).

One reason I had not yet posted on this was that I’m of two minds about it. First, I am offended that The Economist‘s author did so little research that ISKO and KO and all of our large and growing body of literature was utterly ignored. Shame on The Economist.

But of course, it also is up to us in ISKO to raise the bar a bit and make our voices heard outside of our own tribe. How to do this is perplexing. Even as we now talk about the silos of disciplinary academia still we cling to our own pretty tightly. More sighs ….

Well, let us enjoy the fact that the stuff of our labor made it into a business column in an international news magazine. But let us also accept this challenge to do what we can to see that we heighten awareness of our existence and productivity as a domain.

Some proper references:

Bawden, David. 2018. “Supporting Truth and Promoting Understanding: Knowledge Organization and the Curation of the Infosphere.” In Challenges and Opportunities for Knowledge Organization in the Digital Age: Proceedings of the Fifteenth International ISKO Conference, 9-11 July 2018, Porto, Portugal, ed. Fernanda Ribeira and Maria Elisa Cerveira. Advances in Knowledge Organization 16. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag, 17-22.

Foucault, Michel. (1966) 2001. The Order of Things: An Archaelogy of the Human Sciences. London: Routledge.

Foucault, Michel. 1972. The Archeology of Knowledge and The Discourse on Language. Trans. by A. M. Sheridan Smith. New York: Pantheon Books.

Written by lazykoblog on July 9th, 2018

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some useful bibliographic references   no comments

When I first began to teach a seminar in knowledge organization at LIU in the 1990s I began preparation for the course with the reading lists from a seminar in bibliographic control that I had team-taught with Arlene Taylor at Columbia University. I added quite a lot to it, of course, and proudly presented the hefty document to my new students. Every year after that I updated the bibliography, making it ever more terrifying with each update. When I first offered the seminar at UWM in 2010 I discovered the heft of the document was putting off students. (Although, in my defense, I always had offered it as a reference tool and it never was the entire required reading list.) I stopped maintaining the list after that. Not too much later, The Elements of Knowledge Organization (Springer 2014) was published, and I decided to retire the bibliography because it was, essentially, the reference list from that book.

This spring I taught the seminar in knowledge organization at UWM. At some point in the semester I told a version of this story, and at the end of the course a couple of the students asked to see the list. So, I updated it. I decided I ought to offer it here, as a reference list, for anybody who is trying to grasp the finer points of the basics of knowledge organization. You will see contents cover classical texts in descriptive cataloging and subject analysis as well as classification and more contemporaneous topics in knowledge organization, such as interdisciplinarity and domain analysis.


Smiraglia_Basic KO Bibliography 030618

Written by lazykoblog on June 13th, 2018

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Digging Into the Knowledge Graph   no comments

Posted at 7:22 am in KO,research,theory,Uncategorized

I am gratified to be among those receiving research grants from the 2016 fourth round of the Digging Into Data challenge, sponsored by the Trans-Atlantic Platform for the Social Sciences and the Humanities ( Our project is called “Digging Into the Knowledge Graph”; principal investigators include, besides me, Andrea Scharnhorst of the Royal Netherlands Academy of the Arts and Sciences and Rick Szostak of the University of Alberta. A brief abstract of our project is available here:

I am sure to be reporting here often about the specifics of the project so I won’t take space to do that now. What I want to say, for those who read this blog, is that this fairly compact project represents a major step up in research profile for the knowledge organization community. We are among a group of fourteen international projects being funded to explore making more effective use of “big” data. And we are proposing to use knowledge organization systems–both existing systems and systems we plan to develop–to do so. From our proposal, just as a teaser, is this exciting line: “This project aims for nothing less than to provide means of support for [the] self-organising process of knowledge creation.”

Pretty exciting stuff, if I do say so myself.

Written by lazykoblog on April 6th, 2017

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When two things are like each other   no comments

Posted at 5:28 pm in classification,KO,similarity

In the October 22nd issue of The Economist there’s an article about urban pulses (“Listen to the music of the traffic in the city,” p. 70). It reports on research (Miranda et al. 2016) that measures activities as diverse as Flickr posts and traffic volume, which together generate an impression about ebbs and flows of activity in a place over time, as well as identifying other similarities. The hook for the article is the notion that Alcatraz and Rockefeller Center turn out to have the same pulse.

It’s just one more example of the kind of situation that I wish we in knowledge organization (KO) were more concerned with. This is the notion that when two things are like each other it might be meaningful, whether the relationship between them is semantic or not. I think in KO we are too much oriented to semantic similarity systems to the exclusion of almost everything else. A good place to start might be to look for more research like this and subject it to meta-analytical analysis from the KO domain-analytical point of view. What sort of domain is urban pulse, or social-pulse taking (which apparently is a broader term, see the end of the article)? I don’t mean, who are its authors and what are its keywords, although that would be interesting too; I mean, what are the heuristics that lead to classes and how are the classes ordered?

I have been very interested in this approach to KO for a long time. It is one of the reasons I am so enthusiastic about the CIDOC-Conceptual Reference Model (CRM), a meta-level ontology for cultural heritage information sharing ( Apart from all of the other virtues of the CRM, it is obvious to me that metadata conformed to it can have a footprint made up of the particular combinations of entities, properties, and relationships expressed in the ontology. This was the subject of research undertaken in my last years at LIU (“Mining Maps of Information Objects” and “Classifying Information Objects” 2008). It also is the theoretical basis for my work on classification interaction (Smiraglia 2013; 2014a; 2014b), of my work with knowledge maps (Scharnhorst et al. forthcoming) and my work with Korean open government data (Park and Smiraglia 2014; Smiraglia and Park 2016).

The point is to use empirical research to discover instances when things that don’t seem to be the same actually are like each other, to generate classifications from those observations, and then to create pathways for navigating similarity discovery.



“Classifying Information Objects: An Exploratory Ontological Excursion.” Sergey Zherebchevsky, Nicolette Ceo, Michiko Tanaka, David Jank, Richard Smiraglia and Stephen Stead. Poster at 10th International ISKO Conference, Montréal, 5-8 August 2008.

Miranda, Fabio, Harish Doraiswamy, Marcos Lage, Kai Zhao, Bruno Goncalves, Luc Wilson, Mondrian Hsieh and Claudio Silva. 2016. “Urban Pulse: Capturing the Rhythm of Cities.” IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics PP, 99:1-1. doi: 10.1109/TVCG.2016.2598585

“Mining Maps of Information Objects: An Exploratory Ontological Excursion.” Sergey Zherebchevsky, Nicolette Ceo, Michiko Tanaka, David Jank, Richard Smiraglia and Stephen Stead. Poster at American Society for Information Science and Technology Annual Meeting, Columbus Ohio, October 24, 2008.

Park, Hyoungjoo and Richard P.  Smiraglia. 2014. “Enhancing Data Curation of Cultural Heritage for Information Sharing: A Case Study using Open Government Data.” In Metadata and Semantics Research: 8th Research Conference, MTSR 2014, Karlsruhe, Germany, November 27‐29, 2014. Proceedings, ed. Sissi Closs, Rudi Studer, Emmanouel Garoufallou and Miguel-Angel Sicilia. Communications in Computer and Information Science 478: 95‐106.

Scharnhorst, Andrea, Richard P. Smiraglia, Alkim Almila Akdag Salah and Christophe Guéret. 2016. “Knowledge Maps of the UDC: Uses and Use Cases.” Knowledge Organization 43 forthcoming.

Smiraglia, Richard P. 2014a. “Classification Interaction Demonstrated Empirically.” In Knowledge organization in the 21st century: Between Historical Patterns and Future Prospects, Proceedings of the 13th International ISKO Conference, Krakow, Poland, May 19‐22, 2014, ed. Wiesław Babik. Advances in Knowledge Organization v. 14. Würzburg: Ergon‐Verlag, pp. 176‐83.

Smiraglia, Richard P. 2014b. “Extending the Visualization of Classification Interaction with Semantic Associations.” In Proceedings of the ASIST SIG/CR Classification Workshop, Seattle 1 November 2014.

Smiraglia, Richard P. 2013. “Big Classification: Using the Empirical Power of Classification Interaction.” In Proceedings of the ASIST SIG/CR Classification Workshop, Montréal, 2 November 2013, ed. D. Grant Campbell, p. 21‐29. doi: 10.7152/acro.v24i1.14673

Smiraglia, Richard P. and Hyoungjoo Park. 2016. “Using Korean Open Government Data for Data Curation and Data Integration.” DCMI 2016 OCS447

Written by lazykoblog on October 31st, 2016

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A knowledge organization tipping point?   no comments

Posted at 6:43 pm in KO

Knowledge organization the activity–that is to say, classification, indexing, metadata and systems for their use–has been around forever. Academic development of systems for taxonomy trace to Linnaeus in the 18th century, indexing traces often to Callimachus in the third century B.C., cataloging rules have various forbears from the early printers to the French Revolution to Panizzi, Jewett, and Cutter in the mid-19th century. The application of scientific method to the problems of knowledge organization, arguably dates from the second decade of the 20th century when the Graduate Library School at the University of Chicago was created specifically for that purpose. It is from this stream that the science of fat-cards, for example, yielded understanding of sampling from frames with unequal probabilities. And it was the application of that method to the problem of instantiation in the catalog that helped unravel the problem of disambiguation created by KOSs that did not comprehend the parameters of instantiation.

Knowledge organization the science, articulated by Dahlberg in the second half of the 20th century is fairly recent but seems to be thriving, according to all accounts, with growing international conferences and globalization. There has been some confusion over the terminology. Is information organization the same as knowledge organization? Some authors say they are the same, some say there are slight differences. It doesn’t help that a key monograph by Svenonius uses “information organization” as does a core textbook by Taylor and others. Here is one potential tipping point. We must insist on the use of the correct terminology. We receive manuscripts for publication in the journal Knowledge Organization, believe it or not, that use the term information organization. We change it in editing; always. We have to insist, however, in all of the academic areas in which knowledge organization is seen either as a subset or a neighboring discipline.

My research group changed its name this week to Knowledge Organization Research Group, or KOrg for short. I was amused at the opening day of school two weeks ago when, during a doctoral orientation luncheon (which usually involves the whole school), all of our doctoral students stood up and announced they were studying KO. This week I chuckled (or should I say “lol”) when I pulled up the ASIST program and say an entire panel labelled knowledge organization. Two small wins. Not yet a tipping point.

The other place where this sort of precision is critical is in our insistance that knowledge organization and knowledge management are not the same thing. They are not, and they must not be confused. ISKO conferences must be clear about why they accept papers on that other subject (I’m avoiding the keywords here). Knowledge Organization, despite our emails to indexers and my editorials, continues to be indexed as that other subject. We must intercede, if we want to reach the tipping point. In the meantime, we have been adding keywords to our articles to give the indexers hints. (We are not using author stipulated keywords, which amusingly rarely are precise or even applicable. Instead we run each text through a term frequency tool that shows us which keywords really are in the text.)


Svenonius, Elaine. 2000. The intellectual foundation of information organization. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Taylor, Arlene G. and Daniel P. Joudrey. 2008. The organization of information. 3rd ed. Library and information science text series. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited.

Written by lazykoblog on September 7th, 2014

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Journaling KO   no comments

Posted at 6:05 pm in journals,KO

I’ve been toying with WordStat™ software from Provalis Research again. It is very useful for the kind of qualitative analysis required in domain analysis. One valuable tool in the content analysis package is a KWIC index. Ancient students of KO will recognize that acronym for “Keyword-in-Context,” a kind of indexing once thought potentially fruitful. Here is an example including three “contexts” for the word “model” from ISKO 13’s proceedings.

A functionalmodelof information retrieval systems
A reference ontology for biomedical informatics: the FoundationalModelof Anatomy
Towards a ComprehensiveModelof the Cognitive Process and the Mechanisms of Individual Sensemaking

As you see, it is very useful for comprehending the precise context of those big words that show up in the center of word clouds or the foreground of MDS plots.

However, the interesting thing I’ve just learned is that most of the presence of the term “information science” in our domain comes not from the keywords in research papers, but rather from the title of the third most cited journal in our domain JASIST (forgive me for not spelling out here, and using  that term again). Thus it is not that that term is a topic of critical interest, rather it is that as much as 20% of our research appears in a competing journal.

If our science is going to continue to thrive and grow, our authors need to stop sending their research to competing journals. Better a world in which our journal Knowledge Organization has to split into an A for ontology and a B for epistemology and a C for domain analysis, etc., than one in which the dispersion of our science hinders exploitative power and weakens the scientific structure of our domain.

Written by lazykoblog on August 17th, 2014

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The Core of Knowledge Organization   no comments

Posted at 5:50 pm in KO,theory

I famously wring my metaphorical hands about the number of authors who submit manuscripts to Knowledge Organization reporting research that is topically relevant, but showing absolutely no inculcation in the theories or values of the science of KO. Emotions range from demoralized to furious on these occasions. Fortunately, rational academic policies dictate manuscript acceptance, and in almost all cases we return these errant papers to the authors with instructions to go do their homework. Some of them do, happily.

I am in the midst of a domain analysis of the 75 papers presented at the recent ISKO International Conference in Krakow ( The complete results of that analysis will appear in an editorial in a future issue of KO. But the interesting thing I am seeing this time is that there is, indeed, a core of knowledge organization. Seventy-five papers, 1200-some citations, from 20 countries, citing over 400 journal articles, 300 books and 200 anthologies. And yet, most of the citations are to a tightly-knit intellectually coherent core of KO. Most journal citations by far (44%) are to Knowledge Organization, the majority of conference papers cited are in ISKO international conferences or regional chapter conferences, and the most-cited monographs are by Hjørland and Ranganathan.

It is good news, that there is such a strong and resilient and theoretically useful core of knowledge organization. The challenge, it seems, is to require those interloping into our topical areas to encounter our theoretical base.

Written by lazykoblog on August 10th, 2014

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Making it count 2   no comments

Posted at 9:03 pm in cognition,KO,ontology

About ten days ago there was a breathless story on the evening news about how “more information” appearing on New York City fast food menus was not being used by consumers. Told that sandwich A had 150 calories and sandwich B had 850 they were all buying sandwich B. How could this be?, wondered the newscaster, that people overlooked “information.” All of the talking heads interviewed were chefs, consumer advocates, and dietitians.

Not one knowledge organization specialist. Not one commentary on “concepts” of food, or the problems of homonymy and synonymy and meronymy, not one comment on cognition or cognitive overload or navigating networks pathways. A missed opportunity I think; we should’ve been right there, commenting.

In last week’s Economist is a story about “Ad scientists” with a headline image that looks an awful lot like some of my WordStat™ visualizations–lots of little boxes with network lines connecting them in pretty colors; all of it cast as terminological catch in a fishnet. The story begins with the example of what happens when someone searches “tennis balls” using three different search engines. Some of the results are said to be “organic” and others are paid links.

Now, why are no knowledge organization scientists cited in this paper?

How could it be that searchers are thrown off by overload, in which case they turn to the first available organic link (Patrick Wilson’s “relevance as means-to-an-end”; cognitive overload, etc. etc.)

Sigh ….

Written by lazykoblog on July 29th, 2013