SESSIONS ON THE HISTORY OF INFORMATION SCIENCE AT THE ANNUAL MEETINGS OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR INFORMATION SCIENCE
"An all-star cast of grand old men, central European inventors, journalists, famous scientists, Nazi thugs, movie moguls, neglected women pioneers, plagiarism in high places, tools of espionage, seminal papers uncited for 50 years. The development of Information Science is a remarkable example of intellectual discontinuity. Postwar information scientists are largely unaware that there were important developments before the "information explosion" and World War II. The foundations of information science were built before and following World War I. Electronic document retrieval, remote access using telecommunications, and visionary machines were all being developed in the 1930s. If you are designing systems today or envisioning the information machines of the future, you owe it to yourself to debunk the myths of information science history, recognize the value of early contributors to the field and enjoy a good show!!"
This announcement introduced in 1991 the first of a continuing series of sessions on the history of documentation and information science either during or immediately before the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science. These sessions have been organized by Irene Farkas-Conn, Robert Williams and/or Michael Buckland under the auspices of the ASIS Special Interest Group in the History and Foundations of Information Science and co-sponsored by the SIG in Education for Information Science.Titles and some abstracts are listed for the Annual Meetings of 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, and 1991.
In 1998 there will be a separate Conference on the History and Heritage of Science Information Systems http://WWW.LIBSCI.SC.EDU/BOB/call2.htm jointly sponsored by ASIS and the Chemical Heritage Foundation on October 23-25, 1998 (immediately prior to ASIS Annual Meeting) in Pittsburgh, PA. This conference is made possible in part by support from the Eugene Garfield Foundation.
1997 ASIS Annual Meeting: Then and Now: Information Science Problems and Systems.
The theme this year, looking at some classical problems of information science, will be of interest to a general audience as well as those with an interest in the history of the field.
What Were Those Big Old Extract Files, and Why Should Anyone Care Today? Ben-Ami Lipetz, School of Information Science and Policy State, State University of New York at Albany.
Online Information Retrieval: How Far Have We Come? Trudi Bellardo Hahn, User Education Services, University of Maryland Libraries, and Charles P. Bourne.
1996 ASIS Annual Meeting. History of Information Science: Reminiscences and Assessments.
This year's program is a combination of presentations that focus on describing and assessing the work of specific companies, individuals, schools and the federal government in the development of information science and technology.
They Had an Information Crisis and No One Really Cared: United States STINFO Policy and Professional Reactions, 1958-1980. Colin Burke, University of Maryland-Baltimore.
Weststat, Inc., and Information Science and Technology: Reminiscences and Assessment of the Early Years. Donald W. King
Western Reserve's Documentation Program: Reminiscence and Assessment of the Early Years. Tefko Saracevic, Rutgers University.
The Davis Family and the Early Years of Documentation and Information Science. Miles Davis, son of Watson Davis.
1995 ASIS Annual Meeting. Documentation and Information Science: The Influence of the International Institute of Bibliography (IIB) and the International Federation for Documentation (FID). This session is an exploration of specific influences that IIB/FID has had on the intellectual and historical development of documentation and information science over the past 100 years. Separate registration and fee are not required for this seminar.
The Institut International de Bibliographie as an Expression of key ideas for the History of Information Science. W. Boyd Rayward, Univ. of New South Wales.
Watson Davis, the FID and ADI. Irene Farkas-Conn, Arthur L. Conn and Associates, Ltd.
The Influence of the Universal Decimal Classification (UDC). Francis L. Miksa, Univ. of Texas at Austin.
"Document" in Documentation. Michael Buckland, Univ. of California, Berkeley.
The Influence of IIB/FID on the Special Libraries Movement in the U.S. Robert V. Williams, Univ. of South Carolina.
1994 ASIS Annual Meeting: History of Information Science.
Scientific Information for Stalin's Scientists: The NKVD and Postwar Documentation in the USSR. Pamela Spence Richards, School of Communication, Information, & Library Studies, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ 08903.
Abstract: In the twentieth century the internationalization of science and scientific information has forced world powers to maintain channels of international scientific communication even when their official ideologies militate against dependence on foreign science. This was the case in the Soviet Union even at the height of Stalinist xenophobia from 1946 to 1953. While one hand fulminating against "toadying to the West", Soviet authorities were on the other hand secretly laying the foundations of a gigantic foreign scientific information supply system. Only in the last two years have Russian archives been accessible to researchers now able to document the extent to which this network was dependent on the five million volumes transported by the Red Army from German libraries between 1946 and 1948. A key role was played in this import by Margaret Rudomino, the officer in the Red Army in charge of "trophy collections". founder of the All-Union Library of Foreign Literatures and later a benign fixture of international librarianship as vice president of IFLA.
The Termatrex Retrieval system: History and demonstration. Helen Claire Covey & Robert V. Williams, College of Library and Information Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208
Abstract: The Termatrex optical coincidence information retrieval system was developed by Jonkers Business Machines in 1960 and found rapid acceptance in libraries and information centers. This presentation will overview the development and marketing of the system and presents a 15 minute vide, prepared by the authors, demonstrating its use in information retrieval.
Information Scientists in North American Graduate Schools of Librarianship: 1960-1990. John R. Richardson, Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1520
Abstract: During the 1960s, many individuals from private sector industries moved into North American graduate schools of library science. This paper identifies these information scientists and presents the results of two questionnaires sent to more than 250 of them. Findings over their motivations for switching careers, persona beliefs, and values, and their research agenda for the field. A composite picture of the typical information scientist emerges and a specific hypothesis is tested.
A Rough Road to the Information Highway: Project INTREX and Unfulfilled Promises. Colin B. Burke, Professor of History, University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus.
Pioneers of the Online Age. Trudi Bellardo Hahn & Charles P. Bourne.
Abstract; The developmental period in online information retrieval unfolded quietly in the context of turbulent upheaval in the social, political, and technological arenas of the 1960s. This presentation discusses what motivated the pioneers, how they communicated, andhow they struggle to keep their goals alive in the face of technological impediments, organzational obstacles, funding problems, and market competition. Anecdotal stories from three identified groups will be tied together to illustrate how the historical events sometimes hinged on very personal needs, choices, and styles.
1993 ASIS Annual Meeting. History of Information Science.
Some Information System Design Projects of the 1950's with Relevance for Today's System Developments. Madeline M. Henderson.
Abstract: In the early and mid 1950's, an information system research and design team led by James W. Perry offered several proposals for improving the management of, particularly, technical information systems. These proposals included, e.g., vocabulary control for input and retrieval through "semantic factoring"; and guidance in the selection of cataloging or indexing entries through "telegraphic abstracts." In addition, based on their own chemistry backgrounds, the team participated in study and development of notation or encoding systems for chemical structural formulas. As a member of that team, I find that recalling those early days can be nostalgic and even fun, but also constructive. Most of the principles on which the early work was based are still part of our current information science research and design efforts, and some of the proposals are the forerunners of today's solutions. This presentation will highlight some of the early efforts and suggest the trails from them to today's work.
Information Granularity: A Theme in the History of Information Science and Technology. Stephen E. Robertson, Professor, Department of Information Science, City University, London.
Abstract: The relation between science and technology is discussed. Technology is seen neither as machinery or equipment, nor as the application of science, but as a type of knowledge ("how-to" knowledge) which often forms independently of science, and sometimes informs it. One particular theme, that of granularity of information, is followed through developments in information technologies (taken broadly), over the last four thousand years. Some classes of systems in the context of modern information technology are analyzed for their approach to information granularity. Different kinds of systems (e.g. wordprocessors, relational databases, text retrieval systems, knowledge-based systems) assume and use different levels of granularity. Finally, the role of granularity in a science of information is discussed. There is occasional speculation about the existence or identification of a fundamental unit of information -- an "infon", for example. This seems misplaced: We have very clearly identified the need to look at different levels for different purposes. The idea that might be one fundamental unit simply ignores that history.
Use of Micro-Opaque Card Systems to Record, Store, and Disseminate Scientific, technical and Societal Information: 1950-1970. Gerald J. Sophar.
Abstract: If a single phrase can be used to describe the defining aspects of documentation and information systems following World War II, it is entrepreneurial innovation. Major manufacturers and publishing companies had showed little interest in the new ideas and concepts that were being proposed and in some cases being implemented. Small networks of innovators working in the public, private and university sectors cooperated to design, develop, and implement new and presumably better ways to record, store and disseminate data and textual information. Some of the information system innovations of the post World War II period still exist, although in altered form. Others faltered and eventually died. Because they are no longer in use does not mean that they did not have significant impact in their time. An example of the latter is the micro-opaque card. The micro-opaque card (Microcard and Readex Microprint) introduced the concept of the microform as a medium for the dissemination of current information rather than a medium for record and document storage.
This paper will relate some of the more significant micro-opaque systems of the post World War II period, such as those used by the International Geophysical Year and the Atomic Energy Commission.
1992 ASIS Annual Meeting. Information Science Before 1950.
Paul Otlet and the Pre-history of Hypertext. W. Boyd Rayward, School of Information, Library, and Archive Studies, University of New South Wales, Australia 2033 and Michael K. Buckland, School of Library and Information Studies, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720.
Abstract: At the end of the nineteenth century, Paul Otlet (1868-1944), for many years a central figure in the development of information science, anticipated modern ideas about hypertext. Otlet enunciated a "monographic principle" according to which text should be broken down into its intellectually important constituent parts which should then be separately recorded. The application of this principle produced what in hypertext terms would be called nodes. These nodes were to be linked for flexible searching by the Universal Decimal Classification, the first of the great facetted (or synthetic) classification schemes, developed by Otlet and his colleagues. In hypertext terms this was, in effect, a navigational system facilitating and controlling movement through the hypertext web. The same principles and system of organizing were applied to bibliographic, textual, and image materials to create a series of systematically related databases that functioned conceptually like modern hypertext and hypermedia systems. Later Otlet speculated about inventing machines and communications networks in which these functions would be incorporated and further developed.
The Machine Without a Cause: Vannevar Bush's Rapid Selector. Colin Burke, Department of History, University of Maryland Baltimore County, MD.
Abstract: Vannevar Bush is being saluted for his efforts in what is currently termed "information science." His articles on Memex are treated as the well-spring of modern information retrieval. Although his concepts certainly parallel those of today his influence on information science was not as direct as many believe. Bush never fully defined Memex and he never attempted to construct such a machine. But he did create a library device based on the proposed technology of the Memex. The near tragic two decade history of the Rapid Selector places Memex in a practical context and shows the interrelationship of it and Bush's other efforts, including those for the Navy's cryptanalysts, to the institutions and technologies of his era.
Operational Information Science (Documentation) Activities at Wright Field, Ohio, Before 1950, with Emphasis on Foreign-language Technical Reports. Eugene B. Jackson, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712-1276
Abstract: When 1,500 Air Force Technical Intelligence teams fanned out over Germany in early 1945, they "liberated" 1,750 tons of technical reports from sites as formal as the Center for Scientific Information on Aeronautics (ZWB) to industrial contractor libraries to shafts in salt mines. They were flown to a new Air Documents Research Center in London, roughly categorized and then flown to Wright Field through the Spring of 1946. The latter had been the major engineering site for the Army Air Corps since its founding October 12, 1927. Even earlier, Hope Thomas started a Special Documents Unit at McCook Field about Fall, 1917. Such future Generals as "Hap" Arnold and "Jimmie" Doolittle had as their first assignment the analysis of technical reports for Thomas.
To receive the planeloads of German documents, Col. McCoy was transferred to Wright Field and set up an Air Documents Division, Intelligence, T-2, Air Material Command. Of six Department heads, this author was the sole professional librarian, appointed April 1946. It soon became clear that pragmatic engineering considerations and Special Documents Unit practices had precedence over professional library science considerations. Col. Arnhym became the new, dedicated leader.
The presentation traces the evolution of "Documentation" as it was then called through its subsets of Publication, Acquisitions, Processing, Dissemination, and Utilization and via the miles of "V-MAIL" machined microfilm, subject classification systems, brand-new technical dictionary for German, and catalog cards for distribution to government contractors that continued as late as February 19, 1965 by its successor agency, the Defense Documentation Center, Arlington, Virginia. Now, as recently as April 1992, the User Services Unit of its successor agency, The Defense Technical Information Center, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, announced a ground-swell of support was rising for reannouncement of the ADD foreign language report translations of the pre-1950 period with new cards/bibliographic records that meet current COSATI standards. (Full text in Proceedings).
1991 ASIS Annual Meeting: Information Science Before 1945. An all-star cast of grand old men, central European inventors, journalists, famous scientists, Nazi thugs, movie moguls, neglected women pioneers, plagiarism in high places, tools of espionage, seminal papers uncited for 50 years. The development of Information Science is a remarkable example of intellectual discontinuity. Postwar information scientists are largely unaware that there were important developments before the "information explosion" and World War II. The foundations of information science were built before and following World War I. Electronic document retrieval, remote access using telecommunications, and visionary machines were all being developed in the 1930s. If you are designing systems today or envisioning the information machines of the future, you owe it to yourself to debunk the myths of information science history, recognize the value of early contributors to the field and enjoy a good show!!
Imagining National Science: New Technologies, the American Documentation Institute,a nd Watson Davis. Irene Farkas-Conn, Arthur L. Conn & Associates, Chicago.
Visions and Machines before Memex. Michael Buckland, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-4600. An introduction to the development of workstations for document retrieval and especially the "Statistical Machine" demonstrated in Dresden in 1931 by Emanuel Goldberg.
The Life and Work of Emanuel Goldberg. Herbert Goldberg, son of Emanuel Goldberg.Return to the top of the page.