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Pioneers of Information Science in Europe: The Oeuvre of Norbert Henrichs


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In this presentation we discuss the works and influence of Norbert Henrichs (born 1935), a pioneer of Information Science in Europe. In the context of philosophy documentation, Henrichs developed in the 1960s a dictionary-independent method of indexing: the Text-Word Method. This method works exclusively with the term material of the documents to be indexed. It starts by using a variant of syntactic indexing, viz. the formation of thematic chains. Documents indexed via the Text-Word Method form the basis for relatively ballast-free information retrieval, but also for studies in the history of ideas. Henrichs was a leading contributor to the formulation and realization of the German Information & Documentation (I&D) program (1974 – 1977). This widely noted political program planned for the world’s entire scientific and technical literature to be made available in 20 specialized information centers. Henrichs served as scientific executive director of the central German infrastructure provision within the I&D program, the “Society for Information and Documentation” (GID), from 1980 to 1985. Over the course of the 1980s, the I&D program broke down—mainly due to a lack of financing. At the Heinrich-Heine-University in Düsseldorf, Henrichs successfully developed a curriculum for information science, which—typically for Germany in the 1980s and 1990s—had no strong ties to either library science or computer science.

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Pioneers of Information Science in Europe: The Oeuvre of Norbert Henrichs

  1. 1. Pioneers of Information Science in Europe: The Œuvre of Norbert Henrichs Katharina Hauk & Wolfgang G. StockHeinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Germany, Department of Information Science ASIS&T AM 2012, Baltimore, MD History of ASIS&T and Information and Technology Worldwide. October 27, 2012
  2. 2. MOTIVATIONWhy is Norbert Henrichs (born 1935) a pioneer ofinformation science?1. Henrichs created a method of knowledge organization beyond KOS: the text-word method (applying indexing with thematical chains) in the 1960s.2. Henrichs contributed to the formulation of the German „Information & Documentation Program“ in the 1970s and served as CEO of the central infrastructure facility for information science and practice in Germany (the „GID“) in the early 1980s.3. Henrichs established Information Science (beyond LIS and CIS) as a subject of higher education in Germany.HEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 2
  3. 3. AGENDAIntroductionMethods Oral History Literature Review Archival MaterialResults Text-Word Method Organization of Information Practice in Germany. The „Information & Documentation Program“ Information Science as a Subject of Study in Higher EducationDiscussionHEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 3
  4. 4. NORBERT HENRICHS IN 1968 Source: German Television BroadcastHEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF WDR, 1968 4
  5. 5. NORBERT HENRICHS IN 2012 Source: Oral History Interview,HEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF Düsseldorf, Germany, 2012
  6. 6. METHODS1. Oral history: interview with Norbert Henrichs on April 12, 2012 in Düsseldorf, Germany – video (about 200 minutes) – transcript (stored in the archive of the Heinrich-Heine-University)2. Literature review: analysis of the published articles of Henrichs (as a by-product of the edition of selected works of Henrichs)3. Review of archival material: analysis of some unpublished materials by and on Henrichs in the archive the Dept. of Information Science at the Heinrich-Heine-University)HEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 6
  7. 7. RESULTS, PART 1:TEXT-WORD METHOD• Philosophy documentation – cooperation with • University of Louvain, Belgium (Jucquois-Delpierre, Wenin) • Research and Documentation Center of Austrian Philosophy, Graz, Austria (Haller, Gombocz) • Philosophy Documentation Center, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, U.S.A. (Lineback)• How to index philosophical literature? • No classification system, no thesaurus • No full text storage • Introduction of the Text-Word MethodHEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 7
  8. 8. TEXT-WORD METHOD• Text-Word Method • Only words (in original language) which occur in the text • Syntactical indexing: no single topics, but chains of topics • Very precise retrieval results • But: Problems for the users to anticipate the language use of the authors (in all languages) – Solutions: • Term networks (as an early form of informetrics) • Pentagram lists (as an early form of n-gram retrieval) • (Not by Henrichs, but by M.Stock) text-words in original language and in a unified language • Commercial partner: SiemensHEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 8
  10. 10. TEXT-WORD METHOD• Searching for: WUNDT, WILHELM MAX SAME GERMANY (SAME meaning „in the same thematical chain)• Here: In the printed index of „Mind“• Hit: Article No. 3• Online Retrieval worked in a similar way HEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 10
  11. 11. TEXT-WORD METHOD• Full text delivery in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s• Microforms • Microfiches • Roll films• Commercial partner: 3M CompanyHEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 11
  12. 12. RESULTS, PART 2:Organization of Information Practice in Germany• In the 1960s the German government recognized the importance of Information and Documentation (I&D).• In the I&D program (1974-1977) the government was responsible for planning, implementing and financing I&D.• Henrichs played an essential role in planning this program.HEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 12
  13. 13. The “Information & Documentation Program”HEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 13
  14. 14. The “Information & Documentation Program” • A core element of the I&D program was the Society for Information and Documentation (GID) – an infrastructure facility for the FIZs • The GID s main tasks lay in: • Resarch and development in the various areas of I&D, • Teaching, consulting and technological support for the FIZs, • Sponsoring projects and operating a central information service, • Observation of international development in the I&D sphere (branches in Washington, D.C. and in Tokyo ). • Henrichs was the scientific executive of the GID.HEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 14
  15. 15. The “Information & Documentation Program” • The I&D program was never implemented as planned because of: • Financial problems: The costs had been underestimated. • The question whether I&D ought to be left to the government or to the markets. • In the 1980s there was a paradigm shift toward the market economy. • The GID was closed because the infrastructure it was supposed to create was not needed and because of organizational difficulties.HEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 15
  16. 16. RESULTS, PART 3:Information Science as a subject of study • The origin of Information Science in Düsseldorf lay in philosophy documentation. • In 1970 there were the first courses that could be called Information Science. • By 1974 Henrichs worked out a curriculum for Information Science as a minor subject. • However Information Science was only accredited as a subject in its own right in 1989.HEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 16
  17. 17. RESULTS, PART 3:Information Science as a subject of study • In Germany Information Science was neither combined with Library Science (LIS) nor Computer Science (CIS). • No LIS => In West Germany Library Science was not a subject of study. Librarians had to pass different training courses. • No CIS => Computer Science for data processing and organizing information has only ever been a useful tool. • For Henrichs, Information Science is the science of knowledge organization, with a clear focus on applicability.HEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 17
  18. 18. DISCUSSIONText-Word MethodIs knowledge organization beyond of KnowledgeOrganization Systems (KOS, e.g. classification systems,thesauri) useful?Folksonomies do not make use of KOS as well. Can wetransfer the experiences of the text-word method tosocial tagging?Is syntactical indexing by thematic chains applicable inother environments?HEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 18
  19. 19. DISCUSSIONGovernmental Information PolicyInformation supply: government-driven or market-driven? Information science think tank? Central organization of information services?If market-driven: Who will finance unprofitableinformation services (e.g., global philosophy)? On a for scale:Is there a need for a central think tank for informationscience?Is there a need for a central organization of informationservices for ALL kinds of (STM) information?HEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 19
  20. 20. DISCUSSIONInformation Science as an AcademicDisciplineIs Information Science indeed beyond Library &Information Science (LIS)?Is it beyond Computer & Information Science (CIS) aswell?Is Information Science a subject on its own right?HEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 20
  22. 22. QUESTIONS?CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE DISCUSSION? Thank you! Best wishes from Düsseldorf, Germany! Stock@phil.hhu.deHEINRICH-HEINE-UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF 22