The first session of the day is a session on visualization. The first presenter, Brad Eden, showed a rather dizzying array of different sorts of visualizations — up to and including “virtual Vaudeville” (http://www.virtualvaudeville.com/), which simulates an actual Vaudeville show from the early 20th century. The stuff Brad showed was interesting in a “gee whiz’ sort of way, but didn’t really touch on the sorts of thing that interest me about visualization — viewing complex information in ways that make the detection of patterns, outliers, etc., easier.
Linn Marks Collins from Los Alamos National Lab spoke about some projects at LANL that are trying to reduce the amount of time scientists spend searching for information. One of the projects is called ScienceSifter, and is designed to use RSS to create customized feeds for different lab groups at LANL based on the reading habits in the lab. In addition to a conventional title-abstract interface for the results, they have also developed a hyperbolic tree interface. Collins urged librarians to get involved in the cyberinfrastructure movement (spearheaded by NSF) — because at this point it is scientists and not digital libraries people who are setting the agenda.
Chaomei Chen from Drexel spoke on collective intelligence and holistic sense-making. Chen defines collective intelligence as an emergent property of a society, community, etc. The idea in collective intelligence is to identify the hot topics in a subject area, how they are related, how they evolve, and (most interesting) how to identify emergent insights within the subject area.
The second session of the day was on the leisure perspective. One of the ideas of the session was to establish a “serious leisure perspective’ in information-seeking and use. Includes ELIS (Everyday Life Information-seeking), conferences (such as Information-Seeking in Context (ISIC). There are a number of findings within leisure domains that contradict widely held propositions about information-seeking behavior, such as anomalous states of knolwedge, information anxiety, or the principle of least effort.
Robert Stebbins, a sociologist from the University of Calgary, spoke about the serious leisure perspective. Part of this perspective is a typology of leisure. At the top level, leisure breaks down into casual leisure (“an immediately, intrinsically rewarding, relatively short-lived pleasurable core activity, requiring little or no special training to enjoy it”), serious leisure (“systematic pursuit of an amateur, hobbyist, or volunteer core activity that people find so substantial, interesting, and fulfilling” that they pursue it as an avocation), and projects (“a short-term, moderately complicated, either one-shot or occasional, though infrequent, creative undertaking carried out in free time”). Some characteristics of serious leisure include perseverance, career, significant effort in acquiring knowledge, training, and skill, durable benefits, ethos/social world, and identity. There has been very little work done to look at amateurs in either science (astronomers?) or arts/entertainment, although there has been some work done on amateur sports participants.
I attended my first Student Chapter Advisor meeting as the new faculty advisor for the Simmons chapter, and it was interesting to hear what other student groups around the country are up to. The only bad thing about this meeting was that I wasn’t able to make it to the SIG KNIT dinner!
The Alumni Reception was great for me — a good opportunity to catch up with all my colleagues at UNC-Chapel Hill. The International Reception was kinda crazed, what with the raffle and all the silent auctions going on. I forgot to pack any of my knitted stuff to put into the auction — but I did get a book for cheap!