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Facet Publishing have announced the release of the second book in the iResearch series, Information Systems: Process and practice, edited by Christine Urquhart, Dr Faten Hamad, Dr Dina Tbaishat and Alison Yeoman
Design and evaluation of information systems and services have remained an area of study and research in many disciplines ranging from computing and information systems, information and library studies, to business management. Each discipline aims to address a set of unique challenges as they are seen from their disciplinary background and perspectives. This results in research that often fails to take a holistic view of information systems including technologies, people and context. This second title in the iResearch series addresses this challenge by bringing together different viewpoints and perspectives of information systems design and evaluation from the contributors’ own diverse and yet complimentary areas of teaching and research interests.
Co-editor Christine Urquhart said, “This book attempts to bridge some of the gaps between discrete areas of research that information professionals could use to design helpful and effective information systems and services. Our aim is to provide a critical analysis, with supporting case studies of library and information service and systems architecture – in a very broad interpretation of the term architecture”.
The book will be essential reading for researchers in information science, specifically in the areas of digital libraries, information architecture and information systems. It will also be useful for practitioners and students in these areas seeking to understand research issues and challenges and to discover how they have been handled in practice elsewhere.
iResearch series editor G G Chowdhury said,
‘This is not just another book on information architecture that focuses on content architecture alone; the research and development activities reported in this book also cover the other end of the spectrum concerned with service evaluation, performance management and library assessment. The 14 chapters in this book, written by academics and researchers from different research backgrounds and viewpoints, offer a significant contribution to research and practices in the architecture, design and evaluation of online information systems and services.’
About the authors
Christine Urquhart was a full-time member of staff in the Department of Information Studies, Aberystwyth University. Since retiring from full-time teaching she has continued to pursue her research interests.
Dr Faten Hamad is an Assistant Professor in the Library and Information Science Department, University of Jordan.
Dr Dina Tbaishat is an Assistant Professor at the University of Jordan, Library and Information Science Department.
Alison Yeoman was formerly a Research Officer in the Department of Information Studies, Aberystwyth University and is now an independent researcher.
With contributions from: Sally Burford, Catherine M. Burns, Karen Colbron, Adam Euerby, Fernando Loizides, Aekaterini Mavri, Paula Ormandy and Cristina Vasilica.
For more information about the book and to read a sample chapter click here
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Guest post by David Haynes, author of Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval, 2nd edition: Understanding metadata and its use
Use of metadata by the security services
“Metadata tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata you don’t really need content” (Schneier 2015, p.23)
If anyone wondered about the importance of metadata, this quote by Stuart Baker of the US National Security Agency should leave no-one in any doubt. The Snowden revelations about the routine gathering of metadata about international telephone calls to or from the United States continues to have repercussions today (Greenwald 2013). Indeed Privacy International (2017) has identified the following types of metadata that is gathered or could be gathered by security agencies:
- Device used
- Length of call
“Metadata in aggregate is content” as Jacob Appelbaum observed when the Wikileaks controversy first blew up (Democracy Now 2013). In other words when metadata from different sources is aggregated it can be used to reconstruct the information content of individual communications.
Invasion of privacy or personal benefit?
These concerns extend well beyond the use of metadata by Governments and the security services. The social media giants prosper by exploiting personal data and targeting digital advertising. Personal profiles of targeted individuals are based on metadata about online use and are the basis of online behavioural advertising. Cookies and other tracking technologies can monitor the online activity of an individual to predict future behaviour. Metadata about online sessions reveals a great deal about an individual and his or her life. This may extend to gathering information about friends, family, colleagues and other contacts.
The upside of this is that metadata is a powerful tool to facilitate use of online services, by remembering users’ preferences and delivering content that is more likely to be of interest or relevance to them. This has to be balanced against the risks associated with online disclosure of personal data.
Metadata describes an information object whether that be raw data or more descriptive information about an individual. This is important because the treatment of metadata has become a political issue. Personal data, especially data that reveals opinions, attitudes and beliefs is potentially very sensitive. Use of this personal data by service providers or by third parties can expose users to risks such as nuisance from unwanted ads, harassment from internet trolls or fraud through identity theft, if the data is not held or transmitted security. Many digital advertisers would say that because the data is aggregated it is not possible to identify individuals – i.e. the data is anonymised. However this is no protection against privacy breaches as has been demonstrated by Narayanan and Shmatikov (2009) and others.
Daniel Rosenberg (2013) makes a nice distinction between data, facts and evidence. Data if true may be a fact, but if false ceases to be a fact. Samuel Arbesman (2012) in his book ‘The Half Life of Facts’ introduced the idea that in a given period half the certainties that we had are shown to be false or are superceded by new understandings and that they cease to be ‘facts’. Data, whether it is true or not, continues to be data, but is only factual if true. Perhaps there is some way of recording the reliability of information or data so that it can be exploited appropriately. Many of the arguments and counter-arguments on climate change for instance centre on the quality and veracity of the evidence used by each side of the debate. This idea is not new, as medical researchers have for some time evaluated the quality of research used to make clinical decisions. This information about the quality and reliability of data is metadata.
Metadata is political
Metadata has become a political issue because of its use by security agencies and because of wider privacy issues in the commercial world. Anyone who had asked the question ‘What does metadata matter?’ prior to 2013 will realise just how important a bearing it has on current political issues. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures’ (United States 1791). A lot hangs on the interpretation of privacy as Solove (2011) has so eloquently discussed in his book ‘Nothing to Hide’. ‘Fake news’ is not new, but the phenomenon has reared its head in recent elections and is unlikely to go away any time soon. Good governance also depends on a good understanding of metadata and accountability for past actions.
Metadata for information management and retrieval
In the new edition of Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval, published in January 2018 I consider the origins of metadata and look at the ways in which it is used for managing information resources. The ethical dimensions of metadata are explored and issues such as governance, privacy, security and human rights are considered. The book also discusses the digital divide and the potential that metadata has for making information accessible to wider audiences.
Metadata has an important role in politics and ethics. How then do we manage it to best effect?
Haynes, D (2018) Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval: understanding metadata and its use. ISBN 9781856048248. Facet Publishing. London, 2018, 267pp. http://www.facetpublishing.co.uk/title.php?id=048248
You can follow David on Twitter @JDavidHaynes
Arbesman, S., 2012. The half-life of facts : why everything we know has an expiration date,
Democracy Now, 2013. Court: Gov’t Can Secretly Obtain Email, Twitter Info from Ex-WikiLeaks Volunteer Jacob Appelbaum. Available at: https://www.democracynow.org/2013/2/5/court_govt_can_secretly_obtain_email [Accessed March 21, 2017].
Greenwald, G., 2013. NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Verizon Customers Daily. The Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order [Accessed July 7, 2014].
Narayanan, A. & Shmatikov, V., 2009. De-anonymizing Social Networks. In 2009 30th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. IEEE, pp. 173–187.
Privacy International, 2017. Privacy 101. Metadata. Available at: https://www.privacyinternational.org/node/53 [Accessed March 23, 2017].
Rosenberg, D., 2013. Data before the Fact. In L. Gitelman, ed. “Raw Data” is an Oxymoron. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 15–40.
Schneier, B., 2015. Data and Goliath: the hidden battles to collect your data and control your world, New York, NY: W.W.Norton.
Solove, D.J., 2011. Nothing to Hide: the false tradeoff between privacy and security, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
United States, 1791. U.S. Constitution Amendment IV, United States.
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David Haynes has fully revised his classic metadata textbook to bring it up to date with new technologies and standards. It builds on the concept of metadata through an exploration of its purposes and uses as well as considering the main aspects of metadata management and includes brand new chapters on ‘Very Large Data Collections’ and the ‘Politics and Ethics of Metadata’.
‘Metadata of Information Management and Retrieval: Understanding metadata and its use is international in coverage and sets out to introduce the concepts behind metadata. It focuses on the ways metadata is used to manage and retrieve information. It discusses the roles of metadata in information governance as well as exploring its use in the context of social media, linked open data and big data’.
The book will be essential reading for students of library and information science, museums, library, archives and records management professionals, publishers and managers of institutional repositories and research data sets.
Neil Wilson, Head of Collection Metadata at The British Library said,
‘Metadata has evolved from being a specialist interest to become a mainstream topic of relevance to anyone concerned with accurate and efficient information management. David Haynes has produced a clear, comprehensive and timely overview of how metadata shapes our digital age, why it’s a key organisational asset and how its value can be released through the use of key standards and technologies.’
About the author
David Haynes PhD MBCS FCLIP conducts research into Privacy and Metadata at the Department of Library and Information Science at City, University of London. He is also an Honorary Tutor at the Centre for Archives and Information Studies (CAIS) at the University of Dundee where he specialises in Metadata and Taxonomies. He has been involved in library and information consultancy and research for more than 35 years during which time he has worked on information retrieval, information policy and information governance issues, latterly specialising in privacy and data protection. He is Chair of the UK Chapter of ISKO, the International Society for Knowledge Organization.
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