Archive for the ‘Concept Hierarchies’ Category

Prescriptive vs. Adaptive Information Retrieval?

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Gary W. Strong and M. Carl Drott, contend in A Thesaurus for End-User Indexing and Retrieval, Information Processing & Management, Vol. 22, No. 6, pp. 487-492, 1986, that:

A low-cost, practical information retrieval system, if it were to be designed, would require a thesaurus, but one in which end-users would be able to browse research topics by means of an organization that is concept-based rather than term-based as is the typical thesaurus.

…. (while elsewhere)

It is our hypothesis that, when the thesaurus can be envisioned by users as a simple, yet meaningful, organization of concepts, the entire information system is much more likely to be useable in an efficient manner by novice users. (emphasis added)

It puzzles me that experts are building a system of concepts for novices to use. Do you suspect experts have different views of the domains in question than novices? And approach their search for information with different assumptions?

Any concept system designed by an expert is a prescriptive information retrieval system. It represents their view of the domain and not that of a novice. Or rather it represents how the expert thinks a novice should navigate the field.

While the expert’s view may be useful for some purposes, such as socializing a novice into a particular view of the domain, it may be more useful for novices to use a novice’s view of the domain. To build that we would need to turn to novices in a domain. Perhaps through the use of adaptive information retrieval, IR that adapts to its user, rather than the other way around.

Adaptive information retrieval systems, I like that, ones that grow to be more like their users and less like their builders with every use.

Gonorrhea and Weapons of Mass Destruction

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

The Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) ontology at the Suggested Upper Merged Ontology (SUMO) website includes Gonorrhea.

Imagine a WMD debate over a Gonorrhea test for all airline passengers, blue ink for their thumbs (positive), along with penicillin shots.

The transmission mechanisms of Gonorrhea make it an unlikely weapon of mass destruction.

The monological nature of WMD ontology prevents contrary views from being registered. It must have, after all, a determinate result.

Topic map authors can make equally foolish statements. The difference is that contrary views can be registered as well.

Concept Hierarchies and Topic Maps

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Concept hierarchies are easy to represent in topic maps and are fundamental to navigation of information resources. So much for the obvious.

Topic maps standards work and debates over arcane issues don’t prepare us to answer the user question: “Excuse me. What concept hierarchy should I use in my topic map?”

The typical response: “Whatever hierarchy you want. Completely unbounded.” That is about as helpful as a poke with a sharp stick.

You don’t want to give your users a copy of this article, but consider reading Deriving concept hierarchies from text by Sanderson and Croft as an introduction to deriving concept hierarchies from the user’s document collection.

Users (aka, paying customers) will appreciate your assistance in developing a hierarchy for their topic map, as opposed to the “well, that’s your problem” approach.

As the links for the authors show, this isn’t the latest word on deriving concept hierarchies. But, it is well written and is a useful starting place. For my part I want to run this backwards to its sources and forward to the latest techniques. More posts coming on this and other techniques that may be useful for building topic maps.