Re: Namespaces

From: Eric Armstrong (
Date: Fri Apr 27 2001 - 14:12:44 PDT

"N. C a r r o l l" wrote:
> ... A Bay area
> company recently paid a knowledge management consultant
> for six months to discover that a) users use different keywords
> from those doing the cataloging, and b) catalogers, when in
> the position of searching, will use different keywords from
> when they are cataloging. This has been written up at UCLA
> Info Science department, in 1968 I believe.
That is a fascincating factoid. (However, information glut being
what it is, the claim that one has "not done their homework"
is losing much of its impact. If we all did our homework on this
list, no would write anything. We'd all be reading, night and day!

The search/catalog scenario you mention, though, is particulary
fascinating with respect when the SAME person is cataloging and

I am reminded of API design. When I create an API, I give its
elements the best names I can think of. But when I am *using*
the API, and writing code with it, I frequently write my
procedure calls from memory.

I frequently find that the call I write "from memory" is
different from the one I defined in the API. And when I do,
I invariably rename the API! In other words, it is the "user
hat" which has the most weight in interface construction, not
the "design hat".

It makes sense that a similar kind of issue would exist in
cataloging. And that is why I see a future for ontologist/
librarians in the semantic web, especially with respect to
topic maps.

Since topic maps provide the capability for a concept to have
multiple names, with each name valid within some "scope" (also
defined by topics), simply adding a new name to the topic map
can have a big difference on a search.

When a user performs a search, let's say in a human-mediated
eFAQ system, and they then click a button which says "not very
helpful", I see that response going to an ontologist/librarian
who may any combination of the following:
  a) Tell the user a better way to conduct the search.
  b) Catalog existing material in a way that allows it to be
  c) Add synonyms and their scopes to the ontology/topic map,
     so that previously catalogued material becomes available
     to the searcher.

The last step, in particular, forms a bridge between the
cataloging and accessing of material that effectively "renames
the API" in light of common usage patterns.

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