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DigiCULT
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N
oticeable themes pervading the con-
ference papers this year included
information retrieval from the World Wide
Web,
48
automatic indexing (papers by Carol
Bean, Fidelia Ibekwe-San Juan & Eric San
Juan, Iolo Jones, Chew-Hung Lee et al.,
Jin-Cheon Na et al., Shiyan Ou et al., and
Diane Vizine-Goetz), the use of linguistic
analysis and other language-related issues in
knowledge organisation (Rebecca Green &
Lydia Fraser, Barbara Kwasnik & You-Lee
Chen, Daniel O'Keefe, Graciela Rosemblat,
and Matjaz Zalokar) and, perhaps not sur-
prisingly in London, the use of facet anal-
ysis in indexing and retrieval. This was in
addition to the main session on the faceted
approach with offerings delivered by Ceri
Binding representing the FACET project at
the University of Glamorgan (http://www.
glam.ac.uk/soc/research/hypermedia/facet_
proj/), Vanda Broughton, speaking about
the FATKS project at University College
London (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/fatks/),
and Kathryn LaBarre looking at instances
of faceted classification on the Web. There
were strong advocates of faceted classi-
fication in other sessions, such as Grant
Campbell's paper on information access to
gay and lesbian literature, and a presenta-
tion on database management for faceted
schemes from Aida Slavic & Ines Cordeiro.
T
here was a strong emphasis on user
needs and how these affected knowl-
edge organisation, whether arising from
political correctness, user behaviour in
searching, or the importance of match-
ing indexer activity to end-user demand.
Examples of papers in this area include
Jens Erik Mai (on the theory of indexing),
Terence Smith & Marcia Zeng (seman-
tic tools for undergraduate teaching), Hur-
Li Lee & Jennifer Clyde (undergraduate
searching patterns), Ali Shiri & Crawford
Revie (end-user interaction with thesau-
ri), Anita Coleman (information seeking
behaviour of engineering students), papers
by Wouter Schallier and Danielle Miller on
search interfaces, and a selection of items
on the needs of specific communities from
Grant Campbell (gay community), Jonathan
Furner & Anthony Dunbar (mixed race
community) and Chern Li Liew (Maori
cultural heritage).
F
ull details of the papers, abstracts and
PowerPoint presentations can be found
on the Conference Web site at: http://
www.ucl.ac.uk/isko2004/programme.htm.
The complete conference papers are also
available as a printed volume: McIlwaine, Ia
C. (ed.), "Advances in knowledge organiza-
tion" in Knowledge organization and the
global information society, vol. 9, July 2004,
Ergon Verlag.
I
nstead of the usual panel session review-
ing the main themes of the conference,
the concluding session consisted of a sur-
vey of knowledge organisation past, present
and future. Martin van der Walt consid-
ered the development of KO systems from
ancient times, and identified trends in the
recent history of systems: the move towards
standardisation; a shift towards universal
tools and the convergence of practice; the
increasing dependence on automation and
the consequent decline in intellectual input;
a preference for indexing (word based) over
classification (systematic); the importance of
faceted techniques; and an increasing need
for specificity in indexing. Rebecca Green's
masterly statistical analysis of recent papers
in KO identified the changing trends in
the discipline at the present time; she found
that topics currently declining in interest
included theoretical foundations, the con-
struction and maintenance of individual
systems, and the problems of KO in par-
ticular subject areas, and that all of these
aspects had suffered a drop in research
publications. Topics of increasing inter-
est included automatic language processing,
multilinguality, the problems of non-book
materials, queries and searching in online
systems, and, perhaps surprisingly, biblio-
graphic control. Of these, the last three
areas were the fastest growing. The session
ended with Joe Tennis's speculations about
the future of KO; he remained assured that
knowledge organisation would continue
to be of relevance in the machine age, and
that the intellectual foundations of the dis-
cipline would still be of importance.
O
n the last afternoon of the confer-
ence we were joined by two hon-
oured guests, Eric Coates and Jack Mills,
pioneers of UK classification theory in
the 20
th
century, and now both well into
their eighties, but still working on clas-
sification on a daily basis. Their presence
allowed the taking of a historic group pho-
tograph featuring the editors of the Broad
System of Ordering, the Bliss Bibliographic
Classification (BC2), the Dewey Decimal
Classification, and the Universal Decimal
Classification.
T
he social aspects of the conference
should not be overlooked. Despite the
construction work that seems to be a per-
manent feature of life at UCL, delegates
enjoyed the historic aspects of University
College, one eminent US librarian remark-
ing on the `wonderful ambience' of the
place, something usually overlooked by
those of us who spend every day there. The
older parts of the College accommodated
the main conference programme, and the
conference dinner was preceded by drinks
on the Portico (known to a wider audience
for its convincing portrayal of the British
Museum in The Mummy Returns). Overall
the conference was a wonderful opportu-
nity to renew old acquaintances, make new
friendships, and to forge new research col-
laborations.
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48 For more on Information Retrieval, see DigiCULT's upcoming
Technology Watch Report 3, due in late 2004.

49 There was a particular feeling among the British participants that
there should be a more active KO group in the UK. If you agree
with this feeling, please get in touch by emailing v.broughton@ucl.
ac.uk and perhaps a community can be formed to maintain consid-
eration of these issues into the future.