Conference reports by the winners of the ISKO UK student grant

Sixth ISKO UK Biennial Conference, 15-16 July 2019, London

Report by Monique Archer, University of the West of England, Bristol

It was a privilege to attend the sixth ISKO UK Biennial Conference, the Human Position in an Artificial World: Creativity, Ethics and AI in Knowledge Organization. The conference was hosted by City, University of London. I am grateful for a very informative and thought provoking two days and the opportunity to network and meet fellow colleagues in the field, exchange of ideas and to listen to the presentation of my lecturer Dr Paul Matthews.

The conference covered many topics about AI, Ethics, Creativity and the human position.  Here are a few highlights:

Ludi Price, a visiting research fellow at CityLIS and one of the winners of the best paper awards spoke about her research into ‘Fandom, folksonomies and creativity: the case of the Archive of Our Own (AO3)’. Ludi’s presentation was based on her doctoral thesis and her aim was to ascertain three things:

  1. Tag analysis
  2. User’s intent
  3. Preservation of original tags by ‘tag wranglers’

The methodological steps of the research aligned with my own dissertation. I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation which led to a follow-up discussion with Ludi, which, in turn, helped with the interview aspect of my dissertation. The presentation took you from democratic indexing to fandom, to different types of fandom. Ludi explained how the tag analysis was performed using degree and betweenness centrality, clustering and density. In the end it was an example of the dynamic nature of fandoms and how persons within such a realm view the work they do to maintain such folksonomies.

The other best paper award went to Shu-Jiun Chen, from Academia Sinica, Taiwan, who spoke about ‘Semantic Enrichment of Linked Personal Authority Data: a case study of elites in late Imperial China’.  She showed how linked data can be used to enrich data about individuals mentioned in Chinese archives from the late Imperial era.  Some of the techniques used included instance-based semantic enrichment, linking data to other sources, adding missing data to the sources and applying time ontology to the knowledge base.

The paper by Valdir Amancio Pereira Junior, Gustave Pereira and Leonardo Castro Botega was entitled ‘Towards a Process for Criminal Semantic Information Fusion to Obtain Situational Projections’.  The presenter explained how situation awareness and semantic information fusion were applied to crime reporting to improve the quality and reliability of the resulting reports. Adding a layer of semantics and ontology application further helps in the process of information analysis.

Tanja Svarre and Marianne Lykke of Aalborg University, Denmark spoke about ‘The Role of Knowledge Organizing Systems in Business Intelligence: a literature review’.  They noted that metadata and ontologies played a key role in the user experience of KOS in the usage of Business Intelligence systems.

The IKO Case Study Café was an interactive event where we had the chance to engage in in-depth discussions with a selection of case presenters.  This session was the great highlight for me at this conference. Eight case studies were presented to the audience with the invitation to select three for discussion with the presenters. The three case studies I chose were:

  1. Using Knowledge Graphs to Model Standards and Business Processes in the Testing, Inspection and Certification Industry – Ian Davis, SGS
  2. Using Distributed Ledgers (AKA Blockchain) to Enable Trusted Exchange of Commercially Valuable Information across a Defence Consortium – Marcus Ralphs, Byzgen Limited.
  3. Beyond Posting Counts: Giving Taxonomists a 360 Degree View of How Concepts are Being Applied to Content –Dave Clarke, Synaptica.

The second day of the conference began with the keynote paper on ‘Creativity and AI’ presented by Neil Maiden of Cass Business School. The question here was: what forms of AI capability can augment human creativity in different professional environments. Based on his interpretation of creativity as information processing, the author reported on a series of experiments carried out in the context of health and safety in manufacturing, journalism and the creation of personas. As far as creating search strategies, landscaping analysis, generating ideas and challenging constraints, it was clear that human interpretation and judgement was still needed.

Vanda Broughton (University College London) dealt with the issue of bias in the process of intellectual creativity and automation in representing diversity, in this case religious diversity. The hope is where the AI may fail human intervention can rectify such biases.

Dave Clarke of Synaptica completed this session by demonstrating how we can work in the space between taxonomies and ontologies, the latter being more useful to AI, thanks to their structure which reflects reality better.

The following session on ‘Creativity in AI’ continued with David Haynes, a research fellow at City LIS, who spoke about creating an ontology of risk, why it should be created? How it can show relationships between concepts and to map these risks to help reduce risk and offer solutions pre-emptively?

This led nicely into Paul Matthews’ (University of the West of England) presentation ‘Human-in-the-loop topic modelling’.  He suggested that the human element is critical for any AI optimal functionality to be successful. He used a movie plot summary corpus and topic labelling as the example how machine learning can help to interpret relevant data to produce results.

This session was followed by a lively panel discussion on ‘In an AI supported world, where do opportunities lie for knowledge organisation?’  One key take away is almost everyone agreed that the human aspect must be present in knowledge organization, particularly for ethics and dealing with bias.

The final session of the conference rounded off with papers dealing with searching and AI and the benefits and challenges these can bring to bear on KO systems. Where information needs are placed at the centre of each research and to apply AI suitably for the best experience possible and this can be done by reducing syntax errors and query expansion to name a few.

The conference also included posters.  Two that I found particularly interesting were:

Mike Kelly, University College London -   Visualising knowledge in Cultural Heritage former topic speaks to ways in which cultural heritage can use a visual vocabulary to show meaning and illustrate heritage research and some of the issues relating to diffuse datasets and interpretation.

Linda C Smith, University of Illinois at Urban-Campaign, USA - Artificial Intelligence in information retrieval: forty years on gave a timeline of forty years of AI in information retrieval.  The author was a witness to AI research from 1976 to the present and was able to provide a personal account as well as a scholarly perspective informed by the literature.

Fifteenth International ISKO Conference, Porto, Portugal, July 9-11, 2018

Report by Dr Debbie Lee, City, University of London

I was very grateful to receive the ISKO UK doctoral student bursary to support my attendance at the ISKO conference in Porto in July 2018.  It was an inspiring and intense three-and-a-half days. I came away from the conference having enhanced my knowledge about the latest developments in KO research, as well gaining ideas of new directions for my research and with additions to my want-to-read pile.  I also had the opportunity to meet or renew discussions with many researchers in a variety of areas of KO, and these discussions will inform my future research and teaching.  The opportunity to meet other early career researchers was very beneficial, which was possible thanks to the generosity of ISKO UK.  I will now share my thoughts about selected specific papers and workshops from the conference, which I found especially though-provoking or relevant to my research and teaching.

A key theme which emerged from the conference was a reflection on the relationship between knowledge organization and other library and information science theory and practice.  In his keynote address, David Bawden, set out the wider view of knowledge organization in the world.  He asked whether a truth-based classification was possible. This set the scene nicely for other papers at the conference which discussed truth and ethics – for example, those by Jonathan Furner and Elliott Hauser.  David Bawden positioned the idea of curating the infosphere as a major part of the information profession, and he suggested that KO has a huge role to play in this.  I perceive this to mean that instead of KO sitting in a discrete corner of the practice and theory of library and information science, while the current work on truth and information sits in another, in future the two somewhat distinct areas of LIS become conjoined.   

Rick Szostak’s paper on “applied knowledge organization” and world history approached the idea of KO reaching outwards in a different way.  He talked about his research in and textbook of world history, which uses KO not only to organise the materials, but also to understand and demonstrate the links across different histories.  Rick Szostak’s fascinating account of this research showed how he used visualisations of KO in the form of flowcharts to provide a new way of thinking about KO.  He suggested that this type of approach makes KO more explicit. I found this paper particularly fascinating as it mixes together pedagogy, teaching for understanding, advancing scholarly knowledge and knowledge organization.  So, Rick Szostak’s work sees KO helping to advance knowledge in a field outside of library and information science; however, the focus is not through building a traditional KOS per se, but instead, knowledge is advanced through the theory of classification.  I am really looking forward to seeing the end results of Rick Szostak’s research, and I hope these ideas can be incorporated into my own KO research into music classification.

The conference was also a chance to think about current key research questions.  If selecting a word of the conference, I would plump for “epistemic” – broadly speaking, meaning relating to knowledge or knowing.    This concept was a focus of a number of the conference’s papers.  Jonathan Furner’s paper on truth, relevance and justice, discussed the concept of epistemic justice in detail, positioning it at the centre of a Venn diagram which contains ethics, epistemology and social theory.  One of Jonathan Furner’s examples of epistemic injustice in KO looked at the treatment of religion in DDC, as illuminated by the number of people following different religions in the world not being represented by DDC’s distribution of class numbers.   Epistemic loci were the focal point for a paper by Tatiana Almeida and Gustavo Silva Saldanha, which considered metamethology in relation to KO.  These papers highlighted to me the closeness between theories of knowledge and theories of knowledge organization.

As a researcher in music classification including faceted classifications of music, it was really useful to hear papers which were directly related to my research area.  Of particular interest was the paper by Camila Monteiro de Barros, Lígia Maria Arruda Café and Audrey Laplante.  This paper examined semiotics for music classification, and in particular, the role of emotion in classifying music.  I found it a fascinating direction in music classification research.  Michèle Hudon and Alexandre Fortier unpicked the possible means and purposes of facets, asking whether a single facet could in fact have different meanings. 

Dianne Rasmussen Pennington and Laura Cagnazzo’s spoke about linked data use and knowledge in libraries.  Their paper advocated for taking linked data projects for libraries out of silos and thinking more carefully about joining linked data initiatives together.  As a practicing librarian, this research was particularly useful, as it was an informed and analytical account of the actual state of play with linked data and libraries.

As well as papers, the conference featured a number of panels and workshops.  There was a panel in memorial to Ingetraut Dahlberg.  This started with accounts of her life and work, including descriptions of her Desiderata for classification, the foundation of the international coding classification (inspired by her work) and her founding of ISKO.  This was followed by a review of some of the most important concepts to her work, by experts in these areas.  The session illustrated the enormous contributions that Ingetraut Dahlberg made to the field of KO.  I also found the panel on ISKO publications fascinating.  Richard Smiraglia spoke about the journal Knowledge Organization, and Birger Hjørland  and Claudio Gnoli gave a detailed account of the ISKO Encyclopedia of Knowledge Organization (IEKO). As a lecturer who has found the IEKO a very useful tool for teaching, it was really interesting to hear a formal account of its founding, organisation and structure. 

In conclusion, attending the ISKO 2018 conference in Porto was extremely interesting and will be beneficial to many aspects of my research, teaching and professional work. 

If any of these thoughts have piqued your interest in reading the full papers, the conference proceedings are published by Ergon Verlag, edited by Fernanda Ribeiro and Maria Elisa Cerveira, as part of the “Advances in Knowledge Organization” series.

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