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A Pedagogical Approach to Web Scale Discovery User Interface


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A talk given at the American Libraries Association Annual Conference on June 24, 2018, New Orleans, LA.

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A Pedagogical Approach to Web Scale Discovery User Interface

  1. 1. A Pedagogical Approach to Web Scale Discovery User Interface Sunday, June 24 9:00 - 10:00 AM MCC Rm 286-287 Please complete and return the quick evaluation card to the volunteers as you leave. Your feedback is important! To provide full evaluation responses of LITA @ 2018 ALA Annual conference complete this full survey using any of your devices: ▪
  2. 2. A Pedagogical Approach to Web Scale Discovery User Interface #wsd_pedagogy Bohyun Kim ChiefTechnologyOfficer &Associate Professor, University of Rhode Island Libraries American LibrariesAssociationAnnualConference, June 24, 2018
  3. 3. I.WebScale Discovery (WSD)
  4. 4. (a) Background: A response to the rapid increase of library resources on the Web
  5. 5. CISCOforecast: How Fast Is the Internet Growing?
  6. 6.
  7. 7. age/work_in_machine_age_february_2015_final.pdf
  8. 8. Global scientific output doubles every nine years
  9. 9.
  10. 10. Libraries have … • Physical holdings – e.g. books, journals, newspapers, microfiche etc. • Archival materials, finding aids, other locally-held items • Licensed e-resources online – e.g. database (full-text or A&I), e-books, e-journals • Digital resources and electronic media items locally created or locally held • Library discovery beyond one individual library
  11. 11. Article-level discovery in a single search box
  12. 12. What Is Web Scale Discovery (WSD)? • “A pre-harvested central index coupled with a richly featured discovery layer providing a single search across a library’s local, open access, and subscription collections.” - Athena Hoeppner, “The Ins andOuts of EvaluatingWeb-Scale Discovery Services,” Computers in Libraries,April 2012, Scale-Discovery-Services.shtml. • A central index of a commercial library WSDS includes over 1 billion records. • Same idea as the federated search, but faster and more accurate
  13. 13. RecreateGoogle-likeSearchUX : Page-level Discovery
  14. 14. Complexity of Library Discovery • physical, • digital, • local, • global (= onWWW) • free, • licensed, • textual, • non-textual (AV, images, maps, etc.) • and more…
  15. 15. WSD promises : • Google-like discovery that is … • Fast and extensive • Relevant and seamless • Search, retrieval, and presentation of the collective results in multiple sources, types, and formats from within a single interface • And the full integration of article-level discovery, access, and delivery
  16. 16. Discovery happens mostly elsewhere. Cody Hanson et al., “Discoverability Phase 1 Final Report,” (University of Minnesota Libraries, March 13, 2009),
  17. 17. Let’s Try a Few Searches a) heart attack b) diabetes management icu
  18. 18. Search Engine Results Pages include: • Top results • Encyclopedia-like entry (from Knowledge Graph) • Top stories from the news media • “People also ask” (= FAQs) • Related searches
  19. 19. MeSH Terms: myocardial infarction
  20. 20. A Search Query More Specific? a) heart attack • The selection criteria of results – Mysterious b) diabetes management icu
  21. 21. Keyword
  22. 22. MESH Term & Journal Title
  23. 23. Verdict?
  24. 24. Will there be a time when library discovery gets as good as internet search engines?
  25. 25. Why Do ISE Results Make More Sense?
  26. 26. Library WSD: Known Weaknesses • Known item search • Non-textual material (graphic, video, geospatial, data, etc.) • Non-English items • Cross-language search
  27. 27. Library WSD: Continuing Challenges • Varied levels of index coverage (full-text, A&I) and interoperability with other systems • Relevancy • Keeping links up-to-date • Facets and advanced search features • More UI improvements based upon the observation of user behavior
  28. 28. TheUX of Library Discovery: a focus on a more intuitiveUI &Google-likeUX
  29. 29. II.Google & Internet Search Engines
  30. 30. What If Library Discovery Becomes As Good As Google or Other ISEs?
  31. 31. Ranking Information (Evaluation) ≠ Neutral • “One of the reasons this is seen as a neutral process is because algorithmic, scientific, and mathematical solutions are evaluated through procedural and mechanistic practices, which in this case includes tracing hyperlinks among pages. …… while users use the simplest queries they can in a search box because of the way interfaces are designed, this does not always reflect how search terms are mapped against more complex thought patterns and concepts that users have about a topic. This disjunction between, on the one hand, users’ queries and their real questions, and, on the other, information retrieval systems, makes understanding the complex linkages between the content of the results that appear in a search and their import as expressions of power and social relations of critical importance.” Safiya Umoja Noble, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (New York: NYU Press, 2018), pp.37-38.
  32. 32. Biases in Results • Black girls • Asian girls • Unprofessional hairstyles for work • Three black boys • Black-on-white crime • … and so on Examples from Safiya Noble, “Toward an Ethic of Social Justice in Information,” ALA Annual Conference LITA President’s Program, June 26, 2016.
  33. 33.
  34. 34. ScreenshotbyNPR- information-about-race Captured by NPR
  35. 35.
  36. 36.
  37. 37. Internet Search Engines • Advertising platforms • Commodify information including information about people’s and groups’ identities • Ranking is based upon popularity. • Reinforces existing ideologies, biases, and prejudices Screenshot from Danny Sullivan, “A Deep Look at Google’s Biggest- Ever Search Quality Crisis,” Search Engine Land (blog), April 3, 2017,
  38. 38. Rarely Questioned - ISEs’ Normative Effect • “Alex Halavais points to the way that heavily used technological artifacts such as the search engine have become such a normative part of our experience with digital technology and computers that they socialize us into believing that these artifacts must therefore also provide access to credible, accurate information that is depoliticized and neutral.” Safiya Umoja Noble, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (New York: NYU Press, 2018), p.25.
  39. 39. In reality, ISEs are … • Interested in search relevance only to the degree in which it can optimize its ad performance & revenue • Not a public resource for credible, accurate, and neutral information • For this reason, public trust in ISE results is deeply problematic.
  40. 40. Digital Interfaces Create Material Reality • “Search does not merely present pages but structures knowledge, and the results retrieved in a commercial search engine create their own particular material reality. Ranking is itself information that also reflects the political, social, and cultural values of the society that search engine companies operate within, a notion that is often obscured in traditional information science studies.” • The opacity of ISEs impedes informed public discourse and harms civic education by presenting the world in a certain way while masking that process. Safiya Umoja Noble, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (New York: NYU Press, 2018), p.148.
  41. 41. What do libraries want to deliver that Google or other ISEs do not and will not?
  42. 42. The Goal of “Library” Discovery • Library discovery and ISE discovery do not share the same goal. • [X] ISE-like discovery experience • [X] To produce a searcher conversant to one UI • [O] Support and facilitate informed public discourse and civic education by enabling people to develop an understanding of and practical skills for critical information evaluation.
  43. 43. III.Critical Pedagogy and Library Discovery
  44. 44. The Way We Treat Library Discovery Shows Our Assumptions … • Information as a thing • An information user as a passive consumer • Discovery reduced to a transactional step and one-time event
  45. 45. The “Banking” Concept of Education • “Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the “banking” concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filling, and storing the deposits.” - Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, trans. Myra Bergman Ramos (Continuum, 1993), p.53.
  46. 46. Alternative: Problem-Posing Education • “Banking education attempts, by mythicizing reality, to conceal certain facts which explain the way human beings exist in the world; problem-posing education sets itself the task of demythologizing. Banking education resists dialogue; problem-posing education regards dialogue as indispensable to the act of cognition which unveils reality. Banking education treats students as objects of assistance; problem-posing education makes them critical thinkers.” • Liberates from the influence of false / malicious info, biases, and prejudices presented as something natural/neutral in ISEs - Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, trans. Myra Bergman Ramos (Continuum, 1993), p.64.
  47. 47. Commodification of Information in ISEs & Neoliberalism • An ideology and belief that the market should govern all dimensions of human life beyond economy. • Education = Pursued as a private good to meet the corporate demand that it provides the skills, knowledge, and credentials for a job • “Neoliberalism wages an incessant attack on democracy, public goods, and non-commodified values. Under neoliberalism everything either is for sale or is plundered for profit.” - Henry A. Giroux, “The Terror of Neoliberalism: Rethinking the Significance of Cultural Politics,” College Literature 32, no. 1 (2005): 1–19,
  48. 48. An Alternative Ideal in Critical Pedagogy • “Consequently, there is little interest in understanding the pedagogical foundation of higher education as a deeply civic, political, and moral practice – that is, pedagogy as a practice for freedom. As schooling is increasingly subordinated to a corporate order, any vestige of critical education is replaced by training and the promise of economic security.” Henry A. Giroux, “Rethinking Education as the Practice of Freedom: Paulo Freire and the Promise of Critical Pedagogy,” Policy Futures in Education 8, no. 6 (December 1, 2010): 715–21,
  49. 49. Civic Education • “… questions of civic education and critical pedagogy (learning how to become a skilled citizen) are central to the struggle over political agency and democracy. In this instance, critical pedagogy emphasizes critical reflexivity, bridging the gap between learning and everyday life, understanding the connection between power and knowledge, and extending democratic rights and identities by using the resources of history.” Henry A. Giroux, “Critical Pedagogy and the Postmodern/Modern Divide: Towards a Pedagogy of Democratization,” Teacher Education Quarterly 31, no. 1 (Winter 2004): 31–47.
  50. 50. “Library” Discovery Revisited • [O] An information user as an active civic, political, and moral agent • [X] Not a passive consumer • [O] Information as a catalyst for civic, political, and moral practice • [X] Not a thing
  51. 51. When Library Discovery Is Reconceptualized as a Pedagogical Tool… • Discovery is no longer reduced to a transactional step and an one- time event. • Discovery is envisioned as a way to appropriately present information to information users, so that they can learn to practice their civic, political, and moral agency to its fullest potential. • New Q: Can a library discovery solution be a means to actively prompt and facilitate critical thinking at the point of search? How would the UI of such a web scale discovery solution look like?
  52. 52. Critical Thinking in Information Literacy • “… librarians in the academy need to define information itself as the product of socially negotiated epistemological processes and the raw material for the further making of new knowledge. … Ultimately, critical information literacy involves developing a critical consciousness about information, learning to ask questions about the library’s (and the academy’s) role in structuring and presenting a single, knowable reality.” • The goal of library discovery as learning to question (not obscure) how information is selected and presented James Elmborg, “Critical Information Literacy: Implications for Instructional Practice,” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 32, no. 2 (March 1, 2006): 192–99,
  53. 53. Safiya Umoja Noble, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (New York: NYU Press, 2018), p.180.
  54. 54. Contextualization and More • Contextualize to de-naturalize • Reframe / re-contextualize inquiries and information • Prompt critical thinking to lead people to deliberation/action, an exercise of their freedom as a fully competent civic, political, and moral agent.
  55. 55. ACRL Framework for Information Literacy • Authority Is Constructed and Contextual • Information Creation as a Process • Information Has Value • Research as Inquiry • Scholarship as Conversation • Searching as Strategic Exploration
  56. 56.
  57. 57. TimelineInformation Creation as a Process
  58. 58. Network Graphs Research as Inquiry
  59. 59. Author Networks Scholarship as Conversation
  60. 60. Presenting Information for Critical Thinking • As a whole instead of a fragment • With as much context as possible to emphasize its connection to other information along with its historic background • Its connection to political, social, and economic issues that impact information users should be highlighted, so that the information provided can support the user’s exercising her/his civic, political, moral agency.
  61. 61. Challenges • How to achieve this at a scale without requiring a lot of human work • How to present a large amount of information in a manageable, understandable, and easily evaluable way
  62. 62. Skepticism about Using UI for Pedagogy • Isn’t prompting and facilitating critical thinking something that needs in-person education? • “I'm not sure that a discovery layer can actually do this. By moving toward a Google-like one-stop shop, we've dumped too much information on researchers and erased the lines between kinds of information, which makes it even harder for novice researchers who tend to see anything they find on the web as a website - whether it's an e-book, a news article, a scholarly article, or a government report. When a researcher is presented with what is too much information, there is little space for deeper evaluation, reflection, and understanding.” -- from one of my colleagues
  63. 63. Need for the UI that Embodies Critical Pedagogy • Many don’t have access to a teacher/librarian… • How to bring critical thinking at the point of search? • A WSDS that embodies critical pedagogy will deliver search results in a very different way than Google or other ISEs.
  64. 64. With an Eye towards the Future • Usage-based recommendations • Open source centralized index • Open access • Research data • LOD • NLP • AI
  65. 65. “Library” Discovery • More about people than resources • A mechanism that counters faulty reasoning, hasty generalizations, and cognitive biases • A tool that facilitates informed public discourse and supports civic education
  66. 66. ThankYou! BohyunKim @bohyunkim[Twitter][Blog] ChiefTechnologyOfficer Universityof RhodeIslandLibraries