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Bulletin, October/November 2007


Editor's Desktop

Irene L. Travis, Editor

Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology

Bulletin@asis.org

Dealing, as it consistently does, with the impact of information technology change, this issue of the Bulletin has a speculative tone reflected in the title of our special section, “Folksonomies and Image Tagging: Seeing the Future?” Diane Neal is our guest editor. Supplying text descriptions for images remains critical to their retrieval because content-based systems (those that search by features of the image such as color or texture) have relatively limited capabilities. One means to obtain such descriptions is to encourage image owners and users to add text tags, both for their own purposes and to enhance image retrieval generally. Therefore, the question of what motivates users to tag is important; James Morrison offers a discussion of the topic. Where there is social interaction such as that on collaborative tagging sites there is also the potential for friction. Chris Landbeck considers modes of conflict resolution in these venues. Finally, Elaine Ménard and Joan Beaudoin each analyze a sample of tags supplied by users and the relationship of user tagging to professional indexing.

If there is text to search, the performance and characteristics of search engines are, of course, critically important. Search engine sites, particularly Google, have had a major impact on libraries, a relationship that Shawne Miksa examines in a feature article. But websites themselves are not immune. Marianne Sweeny warns that search engine technology may soon be preferred to other user-centered site navigation techniques that have been developed by information architects, user experience designers and others. She urges these groups to become more involved in search engine development and more sophisticated in integrating search technology into their sites. 

Given the complexity of changes such as those reflected in the reports of our other authors, Miriam Vieira da Cunha believes that interdisciplinary teamwork is key to meeting the challenges of our current information environment. Reporting from Brazil in our International Column, she contends that information scientists are still not assertive enough in joining and participating in such efforts, which are crucial to realizing the potential benefits of the information society – a mission that is central to information science in the 21st century.

Information science in the 21st century leads us back, in conclusion, to our own Society, and the future of its publications, which is the subject of Edie Rasmussen’s final President’s Page. In it she reports primarily on the Society’s Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology – on publisher relations and on plans to allow the posting of pre-and post-prints of articles from the Journal in institutional repositories.