Conference reports

ISKO 2019 Meeting The Human Position in an Artificial World: creativity, ethics and AI in knowledge organization

ISKO UK’s sixth biennial conference was held at City, University of London on 15-16th July 2019 and was attended by 75 participants from 14 countries. David Haynes, Chairman of ISKOUK has kindly provided this summary of the meeting at very short notice.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems to be the topic of the moment and has emerged as a theme of many conferences and meetings in the information domain. ISKOUK2019 concentrated on the human role in knowledge organization and the potential for use of AI techniques to enhance the human role. It also considered some of the ethical issues as well as speculating about whether creativity is a uniquely human attribute. The UK chapter of ISKO has always had a good international reach for its biennial conference and had papers from Denmark, Brazil, France, the United States, Taiwan and Croatia to name a few.

It also achieved a balance between research and practical knowledge organization applications. As well as 20 academic papers and 4 posters, the conference also held the Innovations in Knowledge Organization (IKO) workshop with 8 practical case studies arranged in café style tables. This was a brilliant success and proved to be one of the most popular features of the conference. Presentation materials from ISKOUK2019 will be available on the website and the conference proceedings with the full papers and poster descriptions are available from Ergon Verlag–informationswissenschaft/monografien/haynes-david–vernau-judi-hrsg.php.

The conference was sponsored by Synaptica, Ontotext and CityLIS, the Department of Library and Information Science at City, University of London. Thanks also to supporters including UKeiG, Facet Publishing, IOS publishers, Emerald and Ergon Verlag and of course Patrick Lambe of ISKO Singapore for organizing the IKO workshop. Overall #ISKOUK2019 was a lively and engaging event with lots of new ideas to take away.

ECIR 2017 in demand

In summary there have been over 100,000 downloads of papers from ECIR 2017 Proceedings, and it was amongst the top 25% of downloaded Springer books in 2018.

I think this highlights the continuing importance of ECIR in the field.

Forthcoming event

Taxonomy Bootcamp London 2019 15/16 October 2019

(Helen Lippell Conference Chair)

Taxonomy Boot Camp London was launched in 2016 out of a belief that taxonomists in Europe were being underserved by the conference circuit. There is a successful Taxonomy Boot Camp in the US which attracted hundreds of people every year, but there was nothing comparable over here. Part of the reason for this is taxonomists’ versatility. There is no one path into the career, and no one way to do taxonomy work. You will find taxonomists working alongside all sorts of digital professionals such as content strategists, developers, product managers, editors, technical architects, business analysts and so on.

The theme of this year’s Boot Camp is “Anything is possible”. I chose this because, despite the odd ‘taxonomies are obsolete’ article, I am seeing more and more demand for taxonomies and knowledge representation in general. These are essential business assets for all sorts of purposes where defining structure, terminology and semantic relationships are useful, regardless of system or sector. The ‘boot camp’ bit of the conference name reflects the event’s aim to give people a thorough grounding in taxonomy development in theory and practice. As well as the two days of regular talks, there is a day of pre-conference workshops on the topics of taxonomy and metadata design, text analytics, taxonomy business cases and knowledge graphs. They are led by Heather Hedden, Tom Reamy, Patrick Lambe and Ahren Lehnert – some of the finest thinkers, writers and speakers in the field.

The aim of the conference has always been to showcase the whole gamut of work happening around taxonomies. This year TBC has speakers covering all of the following use cases and more: companies implementing content operations need taxonomies; people managing public sector data needing tagging; those managing search engines needing tools to better engineer relevance; e-commerce sites using structured data to manage inventory and user experience. The burgeoning topic of search relevance engineering is introduced to Boot Camp for the first time, knowledge graphs are discussed in depth and the use of linked and structured data in healthcare is the subject of a sector-specific session.

Other sessions cover the ‘bread and butter’ of taxonomy development. These include stakeholder management, choosing taxonomy management software, implementing tagging or machine learning, how to do testing and validation, and the all-important ongoing governance bit that gets downplayed by so many taxonomy projects!

If all this sounds tempting, then please check out the full programme.  As a member of IRSG you can use the discount code BCS25 when registering

Follow us on Twitter for all the latest news at @TBC_London See you in October!

About Martin White
Martin White

Martin is an information scientist and the author of Making Search Work and Enterprise Search. He has been involved with optimising search applications since the mid-1970s and has worked on search projects in both Europe and North America. Since 2002 he has been a Visiting Professor at the Information School, University of Sheffield and is currently working on developing new approaches to search evaluation.

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