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Everything Old is New Again: Perspectivism and Polyhierarchy in Julius O. Kaiser's Theory of Systematic Indexing

In the early years of the 20th century, Julius Otto Kaiser (1868Ă¢ 1927), a special librarian and indexer of technical literature, developed a method of knowledge organization (KO) known as systematic indexing. Certain elements of the method - its stipulation that all indexing terms be divided into fundamental categories "concretes", "countries", and "processes", which are then to be synthesized into indexing "statements" formulated according to strict rules of citation order - have long been recognized as precursors to key principles of the theory of faceted classification. However, other, less well-known elements of the method may prove no less interesting to practitioners of KO. In particular, two aspects of systematic indexing seem to prefigure current trends in KO: (1) a perspectivist outlook that rejects universal classifications in favor of information organization systems customized to reflect local needs and (2) the incorporation of index terms extracted from source documents into a polyhierarchical taxonomical structure. KaiserĂ¢ s perspectivism anticipates postmodern theories of KO, while his principled use of polyhierarchy to organize terms derived from the language of source documents provides a potentially fruitful model that can inform current discussions about harvesting natural-language terms, such as tags, and incorporating them into a flexibly structured controlled vocabulary.
Date January 2007
CreatorsDousa, Thomas
ContributorsLussky, Joan
Source SetsUniversity of Arizona
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeConference Paper

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