by Peter Ohly and Alexander Sigel
ISKO's German branch with around 75 members held its stimulating 6th biannual conference Globalization and Knowledge Organization: Heterogeneity of Knowledge - Knowledge Transfer - Knowledge View" from 23rd to 25th of September, 1999 in Hamburg, Germany. After the joint conference with the 1st Int. ISKO 1990 in Darmstadt, meetings with published proceedings had been held 1991 and 1993 in Weilburg, 1995 in Trier and 1997 in Berlin. Venue on 23rd was the CCH - CongressCentrum Hamburg because of the conjoint session with the German Society for Information Science and Practice (http://www.dgd.de/) who convened to their annual conference, this time under the nicely contrasting umbrella theme Information and Region (http://www.dgd.de/jahrestagung99/DGI_Tagung/information_und_region.htm_). The following days took place in the former Talmud Torah School (http://www.bui.fh-hamburg.de/projekt/fb/talmud/index.html), now location of the University of Applied Sciences of Hamburg, Library and Information Dept. (http://www.bui.fh-hamburg.de/).
The program committee, headed by H.P. OHLY, Social Science Information Centre (IZ) (http://www.bonn.iz-soz.de/index-e.htm), who also directed the conference, further consisted of G. BUDIN, H. CZAP, B. ENDRES-NIGGEMEYER, W. GÖDERT, P. JAENECKE, G. RAHMSTORF, H. NOHR, S. PRIBBENOW, W. SCHMITZ-ESSER, U. SCHULZ, A. SIGEL, H. STRÄTER, and W. UMSTÄTTER. Local organization lay in the hands of W. SCHMITZ-ESSER, Information Systems Consultancy. In addition to the supporting institutions already named, our thanks extends to the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, Cologne (http://www.fritz-thyssen-stiftung.de/).
48 papers by 53 authors were presented by 44 speakers. All authors came from Germany, except 3 from Austria, 2 from the Netherlands and one from Switzerland. Around 130 participants were attracted by the conference (in addition to the 90 registered participants approximately 40 persons took part in the joint session with DGI). As usual for truly interdisciplinary ISKO meetings, the participants came from a broad variety of backgrounds and specialties, as can be judged from their contributions and institutional affiliations. It is important that ISKO maintains this diversity in scope in all its facets! Obviously, the knowledge management track raised strong participation from industry (companies in the area of Standard Business Software, Competitive Business Intelligence, Consultancy Information Services, Search Engines, Knowledge Management, and Market and Media Monitoring - some of them even listed at the stock exchange). We recommend that ISKO positions itself more pro-actively in these areas. Besides from the rather classical library, information, documentation and communication science departments, university affiliates came from areas like: Art, Aesthetics, Culture & Design; Artificial Intelligence/Knowledge-Based Systems; general Computer Science and various applied directionstechnical, applied, business- or socially-oriented Computer Science; Economy and Management Science; Education Sciences; Electronic Publishing & Media Research; applied Language Sciences; Mathematics & Logic; Philosophy; Psychology; Science Journalism; Science Theory; Science & Technology/Technology Assessment; Social Sciences; Telecommunications; Terminology, etc. However, student participation could have been higher, thus we propose to strengthen student membership should be strengthened in the German ISKO.
In opening the conference in the session Globalization and Knowledge Organization, H.P. OHLY, asking: "What constitutes the actuality of knowledge organization today?" and "What does 'Globalization' mean today?", introduced the choice of the main theme: The interdependence between the globalization megatrend and our field of knowledge organization. (http://www2.hawaii.edu/~fredr/glotexts.htm) provides a worthwhile compilation of globalization concepts in a summary of a panel at the World Congress of the International Sociological Association, 1998, by F. Riggs and H. Theune). As internetworking and the internationalization of information challenge knowledge organization even more, we have to rethink the issues of integration, interpretation and representation of knowledge for contexts in which distributed resources are created, provided and used on a global scale. Current examples include: Knowledge management in multi-national companies, the thematic ordering of content in Internet clearinghouses, the design of ontologies which are open for conceptualizations diverging in their viewpoints by field or cultural background, the assignment of metadata to Internet sources, multilinguality, and exchange formats. While, of course, not every contribution made its link to this red thread explicit, participants interpreted the theme not only as a transcultural and transdisciplinary challenge to terminological and classificatory approaches, but were also concerned with questions around the foundations of (successful) knowledge transfer in the new media and emerging communication patterns. All contributions included more or less applications of new technologies, be them data processing, Internet usage, or multimedia, and most of the speakers relied on computer support for their presentations. New to the German ISKO conferences was the inclusion of topics like content analysis in the social sciences, media design, and virtual communities.
The conference mainly consisted of 19 sections: 2 opening plenary sessions, 3 invited plenary talks, 6 special presentations in parallel (12 single sessions), the first afternoon with two technical excursions, and the concluding panel. In addition, an introductory one hour tutorial on XML was held by M. SCHULZ, while a planned tutorial on the bibliometic software DATAVIEW (by H.P. OHLY) could not be given due to time restrictions.
As preliminary versions of all contributions have been made available online in advance (http://www.bonn.iz-soz.de/wiss-org/beitraege/), which extraordinarily helped the exchange and communication process, in this report we will mainly concentrate on the plenary talks and the prevailing trends. Everyone is cordially invited to directly contact the authors and discuss on our mailing list wiss-org. Details on how to submit or subscribe can be found in the FAQ (http://www.isko.org/wiss-org.faq.html). The proceedings volume is currently prepared by OHLY, SIGEL & RAHMSTORF and will be published by Ergon Verlag, Würzburg (http://www.ergon-verlag.de), as volume 6 of "Fortschritte in der Wissensorganisation" (ISSN 0942-0347).
H.F. SPINNER, Karlsruhe (http://www.uni-karlsruhe.de/~philosophie/spinner.html), reported on his earlier project on knowledge orders and his ongoing project on knowledge kinds under the title "Orders of knowledge" (Gegenständliche, prozedurale und konstitutionelle Ordnungen des Wissens: Wissensarten, Wissenssorten, Wissensregime). Many problems of knowledge organization of today are not (yet) solved. It is necessary to define more precisely which understanding of knowledge is the object of the corresponding considerations.
The talk "Cognitive ontology of spacial concepts" by C. HABEL, Hamburg (http://www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/WSV/hp/habel-english.html), was concerned with the problems and accuracy with which concepts have to be characterized axiomatically in order to be adequatly processable by computers in diverse contexts (http://www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/WSV/Axiomatik-english.html).
P.E. VAN DER VET, Enschede(http://wwwis.cs.utwente.nl:8080/~vet/), gave a "promise paper" on "Content Engineering, or: Computing beyond the upper OSI layer", sketching application scenarios in which a new generation of computer tools will facilitate information processes and illustrating the key features of these tools with examples from his (and his colleagues') earlier work, e.g. CONDORCET. Key concepts are ontologies, domain-informed NLP, virtual reality, and integration techniques. He argued that the funding problem to develop the needed resources shall be considered similar to an infrastructure investment in the natural sciences.
Due to space reasons, for the other sessions, we limit ourselves to listing only the authors with the translated titles of their papers (accompanied with more informative comments where indicated). All presentations were in German, except the one by P.E. VAN DER VET. Note that in contrast to the original presentation order, contributions have been intentionally reclassified here:
Foundations of knowledge organization: Information and knowledge:
End user participation:
Knowledge diagnosis and processing:
The excellent technical excursions led the participants to two institutions of Hamburg with links to knowledge organization, namely LEM (Labor für elektronische Medienkommunikation, Medieninformatik und Medienkunst;http://www.hfbk-hamburg.de/hfbk_homepage/hfbk_hamburg/website/main.php/, have a look at the projects area) and the Museum for Ethnology (Museum für Völkerkunde; http://hamburg.de/Museum-fuer-Voelkerkunde/): At LEM, the interdisciplinary laboratory between universities, art, culture, and economy, F. FIETZEK, M. LEHNHARDT, M. MAYER, H. OBENDORF, P. SCHEFE, T. STENDEL and I. THOMSEN presented current research projects, including "iWorlds" (improvement of the human-machine interface for large data collections by spatial visualizations), "BIN - the Baltic Interface Net" (Fostering of intercultural exchange between artists and cultural institutions in the 11 countries abutting against the Baltic Sea by provision of a cooperation basis which allows to develop new forms of information, communication, and collaboration across language barriers), and "HMP3D" (a 3D interface to the digitized house in which LEM resides). In the Museum for Ethnology, we gained insights into the organization of knowledge about cultures. After interviewing the librarian on her interesting work in the charming library with its historic interieur, we were introduced into challenges of knowledge organization and presentation in the conception of the "Europa" exposition during a special guided tour.
The concluding panel, chaired by I. DAHLBERG, stood in the tradition of the late Eric de Grolier as analytico-synthetic conference summarizer (cf. Cochrane, P.A: Eric de Grolier: The analytico-synthetic summarizer, in: Int.Classif. 18(1991), No.2, 78-86), as the seven panelists G. BUDIN, H.P. OHLY, G. RAHMSTORF, W. SCHMITZ-ESSER, U. SCHULZ, A. SIGEL, and W. UMSTÄTTER each summarized the conference from their personal perspective. (The statements can be found in the archive of our German mailing list). It was felt that new media and technology open challenging and interesting areas (e.g. knowledge management) to which knowledge organization has indeed important contributions to make. In addition, stronger emphasis should be put on social science and economic issues, as we do know little about the conditions of knowledge organization and its impact on cognitive structures and the division of labour in scientific communities. I. DAHLBERG, after providing some statistical facts on the conference, finally gave a kind of meta-summary and suggested that it was worthwile to reflect the foundations of knowledge organization in the humanities in order to gain insight into how to approach the new problems.
Main suggestions for future meetings were: To slow down, to provide more time for interaction, discussion, mutual understanding and coherent synthesis, to make the conference and the society more attractive to young people, and to expand the presentation of applied and especially user-oriented, empirical work. This time part of the rush was caused by restrictions resulting from the experimental cooperation with DGI. While we actively strive for synergetic effects in cooperation, the net effects should be critically examined in each case.
The next conference of German ISKO is planned for 2001. The programme will be chaired by C. LEHNER (http://www.uni-hildesheim.de/~chlehn/). We are happy about the fruitful exchange going on and are full of hope that it will expand our understanding of knowledge organization processes even further.