LIBREAS.Library Ideas

Call for Papers LIBREAS #15: Beyond Semantics – a new linguistic turn in LIS

Posted in LIBREAS Call for Papers by libreas on 28. März 2009

deutschsprachige Version

A key challenge in Library and Information Science is the fundamental change in the content carriers. While traditionally physical media, such as books, served as the content carrier the increasing shift to digital content requires a radical change in perspective.
In the digital environment the content is flexible; hyperlinked, dynamically distributed and automatically indexed. In this environment the sheer amount of content limits the ability of intellectual indexing.

Current technical means of indexing are mostly limited to the syntactic level. The indexing process only requires the use of algorithms and the application of respective relations. Because of the binary structure of digital texts, those means and methods tend to be accurate. This method clearly has its limitations when it comes to the meaning of some texts. Therefore, we propose the application and elaboration of semiotic approaches to address these limitations.

There are three branches of semiotics:
• Syntactics: referring to the relation of signs to each other
• Semantics: referring to the relation between signs and the respective things they refer to
• Pragmatics: referring to the relation of signs to their impacts on those who use them.
On the semantic level there are some technical approaches within the research of the so-called semantic web (e.g. the development of ontologies). As of now, both the practicality and the outcomes of these technical approaches appear to be rather limited. Intellectual assistance is still necessary to actualize the relations of meaning.

On the pragmatic level there is currently no technical approach. Still, the pragmatic level has attracted an increasing amount of attention and gains relevance as the communication processes are increasingly handled in the digital realm. Currently, different types of content are mixed-up; such that the line between official publication and personal utterances (e.g. blogs, Twitter) is blurred.

The major thesis of the next issue of LIBREAS is as follows:
It is imperative that any contemporary discourse in signs and sign-structures includes the whole semiotic framework. A solely intellectual and pragmatic approach inevitably fails because of the sheer amount of material, while a reduction of syntactic and structural aspects leads to the contraction of perspective regarding the actual usage of such environments. The combination of the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic levels is vital for LIS to effectively deal with the complexity of digital and netted content.

We are far from understanding what a combination of the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic levels will look like in a technical application framework. For the next issue of LIBREAS we ask for contributions to address the issue from a conceptual and/or methodological perspective in a broader sense and/or that discuss the given thesis. The goal is to elaborate on the relationships between signs and text regarding the syntactic and semantic values, as well as their relationship with human users. Furthermore, we will try to formulate fields of application and methodological potential for LIS within this context.

The deadline for submissions is July 24th, 2009. Please note our guidelines for authors.

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