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Conceptual Organization And Retrieval Of Text By Historians

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  • 1. The Role of Memory and Metaphor Donald Owen Case , Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90024
  • 2.
    • The problem of filing and retrieving electronic documents is of particular interest and relevance to system designers, and the problem is compounded by the fact that we do not understand how users of paper files organize their materials.
    • Central to the problem of filing either electronic or hard copy test are problems of RECALL (What did I call that file?) and RECOGNITION (What is in that file?)
  • 3.
    • How does the historian manage--through spatial placement and physical and mental labeling-- the large quantities of text that are gathered in the process of creating an “original” work?
    • In order for historians to do their work effectively they must develop techniques to identify, scan, index, file, and retrieve large amounts of written material relevant to their projects.
    • Although the work of historians can be seen
    • as cross disciplinary, novel to their work
    • is the element of time.
    • The study attempts to explain how future models of text storage
    • and retrieval can be informed by research on subjective aspects
    • of cognition.
    • Source of models – experiences of actual users as collected through
    • qualitative interviews and inventories. Namely, the text handling of
    • historians.
    Case’s Study
  • 4. Previous Studies :
    • Barbara Kwasnik* (1989) found six descriptive dimensions to be most often used by subjects in their classification decisions.
    • Use or purpose CONTEXT
    • Form LINKS
    • Time THESE
    • Topic TOGETHER
    • Location
    • Circumstance
    • * SCILS, Rutgers University
  • 5. Methods:
    • Case interviewed 60 American History professors in their offices.
    • He observed :
      • Linear footage of books, journals, and notebooks on the shelves
      • Number of stacks of materials lying around the offices.
      • Number of filing cabinets , drawers and other storage devices.
  • 6.  
  • 7.
    • Implications for Interface Design
    • Better tactile associations with materials.
    • Focus on chronological and geographical facets of information.
    • Utilize sliding scale time periods to define categories and subsequently labels for materials.
    • Realize the newer cognitive schools of thought that say words have different meanings for most people.
    • Computer systems must mimic both human thinking and the characteristics of physical storage s well as the language of the documents.
    • Continue to use qualitative studies to contribute to interface design –this will add to understanding of the use of metaphor in human reasoning.
  • 8. The project has been developed by a Purdue faculty and student team led by Dr. Sorin A. Matei , who specializes in the social and cognitive impacts of new media. Visible Past is a location-aware learning environment geared toward the delivery, discovery, and storage of information, but using the spatial and temporal characteristics of that information as the organizing structure. The main Visible Past aim is to enhance research, classroom, and museum learning by harnessing the implicit space and time attributes of information while at the same time fully embracing the read/write ethic. “We intend for the platform to validate and extend a theoretical framework for humanities research and learning. We aim to establish a set of methodological tools for virtual reality, location-sensitive research and learning that can be extended to other environments and, indeed, other disciplines.” An example of the effort to use qualitative study results such as those found in Case’s study to improve interface design based on the implications previously mentioned can be found in a project undertaken by a faculty/student group at Purdue University .
  • 9. Visible Past Project
    • Imagine an online historical atlas where each historical event would be mapped and annotated with text, diagrams,
    • pictures, videoclips, and audiofiles. http://www.visiblepast.net
    • Imagine ... a site where people interested in the same historical events, places, monuments or periods can network.
    • Imagine... a site that can automatically index information and create clusters of events, places or historical personalities
    • based on the users common interests in them.
    • Imagine ... a site that can recommend the best books or articles available for a specific historical topic.
    • Imagine ... a service that would deliver to your cell phone information about any spot on the planet you might find
    • yourself at.
    • Imagine ... a room with life-size screens on which virtual models of the ancient Roman Forum, of the Omaha Beach
    • Battle or of the Forbidden City would be projected and interacted with in 3d.
    • Now imagine ... there was a way to make available for reading or editing the information stored by the atlas to the person using the cell phone in Rome, at the ruins of the Roman Forum. Imagine that the person in the 3D virtual reality room could visualize all the data contributed by the visitors of the online atlas.
    • Finally , imagine the people using cell phones, desktop computers or full immersion 3d virtual reality models talking to each other through a communication system that allows them to share impressions, passions and ideas.
    • These ideas do not belong to the realm of science fiction. They are the product of the Visible Past project, initiated by a group of faculty at Purdue University. Visible Past is a seamless network of information that turns the idea of information searching and retrieval on its head. Spatially locating and disseminating information, Visible Past takes the pain out of searching for information because through it information searches for you.
  • 10. The End