Systems Science and Collaborative Information Systems: Theories, Practices and New Research

Systems Science and Collaborative Information Systems: Theories, Practices and New Research

Emilia Currás (Autonomous University Madrid, Spain) and Nuria Lloret Romero (Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain)
Indexed In: SCOPUS
Release Date: November, 2011|Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 318
ISBN13: 9781613502013|ISBN10: 161350201X|EISBN13: 9781613502020|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-201-3

Description

Recent changes in information science have emerged as a result of challenges faced by the business, social, and scientific worlds, as well as continued progress in information and communication technologies. Organizations have begun to seek collaborative and joint efforts that allow them to better participate in challenging and competitive opportunities. This is illustrated by the creation of highly integrated supply chains, virtual libraries and organizations, and virtual laboratories.

Systems Science and Collaborative Information Systems: Theories, Practices and New Research examines the impact of new information services on day-to-day activities from a range of contemporary technical and socio-cultural perspectives. This collection also creates a sound theoretical basis for information systems and new research opportunities in the field.

Topics Covered

The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:

  • Information as a Science
  • Metasearching
  • Open Access
  • Open Source Software for Collaborative Information Services
  • Personal Search Software
  • Semantic Web
  • Theoretical Principles in Collaborative Information Systems
  • Vertical Integration of Collaborative Information Systems

Reviews and Testimonials

Systems Science and Collaborative Information Systems: Theories, Practices and New Research provides a rich discussion of the need for [a] deep understanding of users, their needs, and the context that they bring to an information system, as well as their backgrounds and behaviors. The work is as innovative in its approach as it is comprehensive in its scope. There is a clear international focus to this work, with authors from Spain, Mexico, Brazil, France, and the United States.

– John J. Regazzi, Long Island University and Focused Connections

Table of Contents and List of Contributors

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Preface

This book can be considered unique in its kind, in that it broadly explores collaborative systems from the viewpoint of information systems. Also considered are the theoretical and practical aspects of these systems from a collaborative standpoint. In this regard, it is assumed that there is a relationship of dependency between information and collaborative systems.

Nowadays, the structure of society, culture, research, industry, in short all human activity, is dependent on information systems from differing backgrounds and whose areas of specialty varies. Any human activity bases its daily work on information, whatever it may be. 

As part of the theoretical and practical studies relating to the so-called "electronic techniques" and given the progress reached in the last 50 years or so, the interaction between man and machines has been seriously explored. There have been studies of so-called HCI = Human Computer Interaction, and in some cases Interaction" has been replaced with "Interface", or also by "Interconnection". 

The influence of computer use on humans, both in terms of construction and users, is truly worrisome. People are increasingly more dependent on computers, and. everything is seen, studied, or disseminated using such machines. Human beings, as users, end up changing physically. For example, their vision may be affected.  In a recent op-ed I authored, which was published in the journal Mi Biblioteca, I dared to say that "Internet is the devil's punishment".

The reason I point this out is that "collaborative systems" are included in the study of HCI and can be considered as a branch, or as an application of such systems. 

This book focuses on collaborative systems and their applications, which have rapidly evolved in very recent years. The peculiarity of this kind of systems is that the users are both actors and managers of their layout, as well as their use. Therefore, there is a shared relationship of knowledge and experiences, or in other words, of information, a relationship which is rich in informational power. 

Collaborative systems must fulfill some conditions for their effect to be positive. The phases of coordination, cooperation and dissemination must all be completed and must be fully supported by "digital technology."

As collaborative systems have evolved, a complete nomenclature has been developed, a terminology which properly defines the constituent parts and practical aspects, etc. In this respect, practical and adaptive collaborative systems are referred to, as well as functional interfaces, collaborative services and collaborative organization. In other respects, there is talk of taxonomies and of collaborative classifications. 

As for their use, they have resulted, for example, in the famous social networks, which are diverse and varied. Likewise, Web 2.0 is an application of these systems, which requires understanding the relationships between users and participants in a process of "information sharing".

This book is structured into sections, which in turn, are divided into the following subsections:

I. Theoretical and scientific aspects in collaborative information systems
a.Theoretical and Philosophical principles: Informationism.
b.Information systems from the systems science theories.
c.Information, in collaborative information systems, as a science in itself.
d.Vertical integration of collaborative information systems.
II. Technology in collaborative information systems
e.Historical Review
f.Metasearching / New Search Interfaces
g.Automatic references
h.Open source software to collaborative information  services

The first chapters are in some way related to theoretical aspects. These chapters discuss information, which, after all, is the basis of the entire contents of the book. 

Information is everything and nothing at the same time. In Roman times, Titus Lucretius Caro (99 - 55 BC) defined information as "not being, but allowing to be".

It cannot be seen or touched, and is timeless and recyclable. 

It activates our brain and gives us the ability to understand the world around us and to acquire knowledge. As the Spanish neurologist, José Manuel Rodríguez Delgado said, "knowing takes up space”, it takes up space when putting our brain into action. The German professor Helmut Arntz said that people changed from hominids to humans when they began to acquire information from their environment. So how do we refer to information relating to news reporting, for example? This is the question. Information needs support of some type. In our case this support is configured by certain systems called software or programs and by certain machines known as hardware. These are handled and powered by humans.

We often forget that behind all these devices and programs there is a human being, whose mental faculties our now so developed that he is able to build programs for everything that computers do today. This is amazing and even more so when it comes to mobile phones. In this regard, the Spanish physicist Felix Vidondo speaks of "Thinkware" as a human element, along with software and hardware. 

CHAPTERS

Let us now briefly discuss the contents of the chapters in this book, following the order shown in the Table of Contents.

The first chapter is entitled "Vertical Integration of Sciences: An approach to including information, knowledge and its organization”, Emilia Currás, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.

As the author of this Preface and of this first chapter, I find it very difficult to objectively criticise it. However, I will try. 

First science and the way it can be defined are studied, two possible definitions being highlighted: a summary of everything known to date and a way to access knowledge which arises.

The way in which science as a unit can be vertically integrated is then studied.

Since ancient times human knowledge has been integrated horizontally. However, if we attempted to vertically integrate this knowledge, perhaps we could understand and solve certain problems posed by humankind today. This idea is not entirely new, and other authors having outlined this type of integration, but without specifically mentioning or focusing on it. The novelty and may I dare say, originality, lies in the vertical integration of all of science. 

Obviously for reasons of space, only certain knowledge, such as knowledge of sociology, computers, information, etc., is used to outline what the vertical integration of a unit of science might be.

In the full chapter, vertical integration is graphically presented and the explanation provided can be summarized as follows. 

Let's look at how this integration can be accomplished. Each piece of human knowledge forms a column, where the other pieces of knowledge involved in gaining this knowledge are placed. Each piece of knowledge added to a column constitutes a block, or holon (term used in Systems Science).

Also, for reasons of space, we will use"computer science" as just an example of a piece of knowledge with which a column will be built. Now, some knowledge and tools necessary for its development are taken into account, such as, electronics, communications, computers, biology, culture, history and information. These pieces of knowledge are placed in the column so that each forms a block or holon. 

Let us now take another example: "Information" which will require the following pieces of knowledge to evolve and be used: inter alia, psychology, sociology, communications, computer science, and history, etc. The related column is built and the aforementioned holons are placed within it.- 

The same is then done with each successive piece of human knowledge. The whole forms a polyhedron, a polyhedron of a unit of science. It can be observed that some pieces of knowledge form a complete column while others are holons in another column. To study which relationships between one and another are both logical and practical, and consequently, to understand their vertical integration, it will be necessary to resort to the principles of Systems Science. 

The next chapter is entitled: “What is information? An enquiry beyond Informations Science from a systemic point of view”, by Francisco-Javier García-Marco, Universidad de Zaragoza, (Spain)

In reality there are few researchers who address the issue of information and of information science from a theoretical and practical standpoint using Systems Science. This author is one of them and to support his arguments, he devotes part of his chapter to the study of these issues.
-Note: he uses the word "systemic". In my opinion, he should use the term "systems" as a possessive. This term is most commonly used internationally by all researchers in Systems Science.-

The author divides the chapter in different sections and subsections, where he sets out his ideas, assumptions, assertions and conclusions. He begins by differentiating between Information Society, Information Science and Science of Information. He says that information has become a fundamental part of society and its varied cultures. 

This information is the result of automatic data processing and dissemination. Additionally, information is fundamental in the study of cognitive science, communication sciences and computer science. Its importance in Library and Information Science (LIS), which is his field of study, cannot be overlooked either. There are enough studies and research to be able to define what information can be. This chapter only concentrates on its meaning and concept in the fields where information appears in the form of raw information, and as knowledge, messages, news, documentation and meta-information. All these come under the tenets of Systems Science or General Theory of Systems.

Additionally, it treats information as a target of human reality and in terms of its role in modern science, using a metaphor relating to water being where the fish of science swim, which emphasizes waters' key role in fish' development. 

It also emphasizes the importance of information which is useful in scientific philosophy so as to place it alongside time, space, matter, energy and information.

Additionally, it stresses physical information contained in many of the studies of LIS (Library and Information Science), where such information is required to be reported. There is no communication without information, nor does the former exist without the latter. According to this author, they are the two sides of the same coin. 

Additionally, he highlights the cognitive information forming part of processes of knowledge acquisition and learning. Information is not knowledge, but it is the vehicle enabling such knowledge to be reached. 

In relation to Information Science, after conducting a complex and systematic study, he concludes by identifying the following issues: invariant (taken from the outside), where knowledge comes from (due to the influence of information), this is where the language to express it originates, which results in a message prior to documentation.  By handling this information (through processes of classification, indexing, etc.) meta-documents are created. He explains that a Matryoskka can be organised, like in the case of Russian dolls, where information is subsumed under other information.

Information science is essential for human beings, their social life and their evolution. It helps to preserve, conserve and circulate (disseminate) knowledge, contributing to scientific development and the preservation of historical memories.

The third chapter was written by José María Díaz Nafría, Universidad de León, (Spain), and is entitled "Information: a multidimensional reality." 

This very extensive chapter describes the BITrum project born in 2008 and dedicated to studying the nature of information. BITrum stems from BIT, like information and vitrum is taken from Latín, and was defined as a glass window, made up of many parts of multiple colours. Here it is used to refer to multi-variety information.

60 university researchers from different countries take part in the BITrum project. It is funded by the National Institute of Communication Technology and is headed by the University of Leon under the European Union.

The chapter focuses on discerning and reasoning on the nature of information in a detailed and thorough manner. The theories of other authors are cited for the purpose of making them known and to use them as a basis for the author’s own theories. 

His main interest is to emphasize the nature of information, considering and distinguishing between objective and subjective information.

Factual information is related to objects of very diverse nature and features. Here the focus is on machines and their varied applications and uses, as well as computer science and its tools. These are objects whose general usage is varied. Some believe and others process and use information in one way or another.

For this author, subjective information refers to mental processes as varied as the mind can achieve. These include the sciences, like physics, chemistry, biology, ethics, psychology, etc.. The ultimate aim is to achieve an understanding between the two types of information so as to define what the nature of information may be. Information forms a bridge between objectivists and subjectivists.

To develop his arguments, he refers to information as such. He begins by focusing on the variety of information theories that exist and the lack of a mental understanding between theoretical researchers. He says the information is presented as a multifaceted reality, with a very complex structure, which could be studied under the principles of Systems Theories. This would highlight its multidimensionality, evidencing its differing features. 

He also sets out the concepts that have emerged from the Greek and Roman times until very recent years. The reality of subjective information is backed by studies on modern science, and for the purpose of structuring his ideas, he devotes a great deal of this chapter to their study and discernment. 

In this same connection, the author also discusses the diversity of cultures and explains that information is produced when these cultures come into contact. Communication is established between them. In this way, he also refers to their social aspects, which are highly complex. 

In other paragraphs, he refers to information as being key to creating uncertainty, and the aspect of intentionality is not left out. When disseminating information, intentionality must always be taken into account. 

Another section of this chapter focuses on the objectivity and subjectivity of information. In this regard, he points out that Wiener does not agree that information is a type of energy or matter like other authors such as the Italian Paolo Manzelli and myself, who see information as a very subtle form of energy which could lead to matter.

He claims that information can be studied from the standpoint of epistemology, which may also encompass its anthropological aspect. So considered language then appears. However, he emphasizes that the language is shown as a manifestation of information. He believes that language establishes relationships between objective and subjective language, and that it does not necessarily have to be human language. There are many different kinds of languages. 

Another significant section of this chapter refers to the dimensions and levels of information. It sets the levels from an interpretive, syntax, systematic and pragmatic perspective, emphasizing the multidimensionality of information. He again emphasizes that the nature of the information is based on the interface between object and subject, and insists that an understanding should arise between objectivists and subjectivists to discern the long-awaited definition of the nature of information.

He also undertakes a detailed study on what it means to develop feeling, perception and intelligent perception in order to reach a coherent union of the nature of information. 

In terms of future research plans, he believes it is appropriate to follow the path already started by focusing on the fields of cybernetics, infocomputación, etc. In another vein, studies should be extended to dynamic logic, measurement theory, etc. His aim is to achieve a common understanding as to what the nature of information may be in the information age. He places emphasis on the use of information in the connection of cultures, and identifies a common understanding between objectivists and subjectivists.
-Note: this is something, which as stated in this chapter, must be very difficult.- 

The next chapter discussed, which I myself wrote, is entitled "Informationism: information and its neuronal theories".

This chapter begins by highlighting the phase of transmutation through which mankind is passing, which affects all walks of life, and consequently, information. As a result, the various definitions of information are explored. It is considered as an attribute, an object's quality, and an added value. Additionally, it states that information is assumed to be a typical and normal process undergone by living beings, by which they try to adapt to the environment in which they live. In this sense, information is an ontological process, which includes intelligence and which produces knowledge, science and wisdom. It explains how knowledge is produced, asserting that the brain receives impulses from outside, and upon impact with neurons, activity starts.
-Note: In our previous chapter, we mentioned that "Learning takes up space."

The impacts of forms of energy are converted into useful information. These are called "quanta of useful information".

It is said that the information transmitted, received and understood, is essential for setting up human societies, and possibly other types of societies. And perhaps most importantly, it makes reference to their utility. Information should be used for society to evolve, both in the theoretical (e.g. science), and practical (e.g. industry) fields.  

In another vein, information is considered, firstly, as a "phenomenon" and secondly, as a "process". Information as a "phenomenon" is one that reaches our brain naturally, consciously or unconsciously, and which produces knowledge. 

Information as a "process" is one that is handled and treated for the purpose of being used and which would be the basis of information science, discussed in detail in subsequent pages. 

Of great interest are the successive pages, which offer a historical review of trends followed during the past years, both in former and in very recent times. Its influence on the development of humanity and its life forms is highlighted, giving rise to the "Information Society" where it acquires a transcendent value. 

Subsequently, a question is posed. "Information, what is it?", which is followed by a detailed discussion of new aspects and definitions of information. It is very instructive to read, as are the paragraphs entitled: “Information in its definitions” or its “Important characteristics” and its “Ontological aspects”. It is noted that human beings find themselves on Earth, but also within the whole cosmos, and consequently they receive information from the Cosmos, which could be considered as Cosmic Infomation. 

The subject of "quanta of useful information" is again explored in detail, followed by a description of certain theories of neural information, where information is situated in different ways and times. Cited are the neural theories of C.E. Shannon, John McHale, Fred,, I. Dretske, Thomas Y. Feulich,, R. M. Bergstrom,, S. Brier,, Alexander King,, Norbert Henrichs,, Peter Ingwersen y A. N. Leontiev, as being the most outstanding and original.

In this chapter, which is also very long, "Informationism" is left for the end, after citing some neural theories of information and emphasizing the definitions, connotations, characteristics and uses of information. All the above is meant to emphasize the importance of informationism, which has led it to become a science in itself, similar in some ways to the other branches of human knowledge, within the whole of science as a unit.

Although Informationism is the concept of most significance in this chapter, being that it is a new unprecedented and original theory of knowledge, a large amount of space is not devoted to this topic in the commentary to this chapter.

In short, it is explained that if information is so important in all walks of life and has anthropological, psychological, social and socioeconomic connotations, etc., a new epistemological theory called "Informationism" can be sketched where the central paradigm turns out to be information

Informationism will be comparable to other epistemological and gnoseological theories, such as Positivism, Realism, Existentialism, Chemicism, etc.

The true significance of this chapter lies in disseminating this new theory of epistemological knowledge, called Informationism and the fact that "the Informationism period has arrived", also ensuring that "nothing without information, and everything because of".

In the future Informationism will continue to be researched.

Note: In a note at the end of the chapter by Garcia-Marco, it is stated that a reference to informationism was found in Wikipedia, suggesting that the name informationalism be used. I have not been able to find this reference, but I do not see any reason for this change. This is a new epistemological theory, and it should follow the same nomenclature. 

Having discussed the theoretical chapters, which are critical to laying the groundwork for how information may be defined and taking into consideration the consequences and effect of its dissemination and use, following is a discussion of the subsequent chapters focusing on "Collaborative Systems."

The first chapter on this topic is by Aída Velera and Marilene Lobo Abreú Barbosa (both Brazilian), entitled “The complexity of finding information in collaborative systems: cognitive needs”.

It is said that in these times where the collaborative system known as Web 2.0 has emerged, the processing and dissemination of information has completely changed, and "everything is for everyone" and "many to many" is the standard that is currently being followed at many libraries and documentation centers. These changes suggest that the cognitive processes also suffer a change, a change which is dealt with in this chapter. 

In this sense, it is important to consider the cognitive processes required to obtain a collection of information, its storage and the search therefore, providing a use which is efficient and effective to users, who are the actors, i.e. both the providers of information and their users. 

The authors study quantitative processes from a psychological standpoint and also from the standpoint of cognitive psychology, analyzing the impacts that the brain receives from outside. Also considered are inter alia, certain processes of capacity, necessity and orientation required to achieve full brain capacity. The authors discuss the types of human interfaces produced in back and forth relationships, so as to form a mode of knowledge, whose orientation depends on the information received and needed. 

The theories of other researchers are analysed, and Feuerstein, Chov, Kuhlthatt and Kuhlthan Teixeira are cited in relation to processes that take place in collaborative systems to find and research information to make it available for dissemination.

Theories of learning which lead to the creation of knowledge are also discussed. For this purpose, the theories of Piaget, Lucien Goldmam, Vrgostsky, Paulo Freire, Morin and Feuerstein, (more thoroughly) are also studied. 

The next step is assumed to be the study of the behavior of users searching for information, which is the other side of collaborative systems. Ethnographic methods which differ depending on the type of ethnic groups have recently been used for this purpose, and provide answers to many questions. The theories of several scientists who are specialists in these areas are then studied. The authors Bertram Brookes, Wilson, K Caral Kuhltham (again, more extensively), Peter Ingwersen, Hjorlan, Devin and Ellis, are cited as being most representative. 

So far, the foundations for collaborative systems have been analysed and laid down. Both the cognitive processes used to create information and the learning process used to achieve its assimilation and, hence, its dissemination and usage, are studied. 

Through ethnographic studies it is shown that not all people behave the same way, and the differences occurring in Brazil are used as an example. The authors believe that these discrepancies are caused by a lack of finances and suggest that entities and countries establish means and opportunities which can remedy these situations. 

Studies on users are then discussed. The next chapter entitled “Understanding User Attitudes Toward Information Systems: A Grounded Theory Approach”, was written by David A. Jank, from the University of Long Island, (USA), who states that the purpose of this chapter is to fill in any gap and converge any difference as empirical evidence of the behavior of information system users.  This author is interested in studying the attitudes that users of information systems acquire, and attempting to change them if the system so requires. Today, as everthing evolves, a change in attitude might be necessary. 

Actually, this is a study on users, which takes into account psychological research. Discourse analysis and bibliometrics were also used. The number of features to be taken into account when studying the attitudes of users was determined and epistemological aspects were also considered.

A qualitative analysis of published literature was used. Support was sought from research and theories of a large number of authors. All research was performed after 2000, i.e. In other words all of the studies are very recent. Collaborative systems were introduced as a result of the changes in information systems. It was concluded that a change in attitudes is necessary, taking into account the environment, the place, including different countries, and the type of companies, etc. 

This author's reasoning is shown in the tables under Fig 1 which provide an overall view of the epistemologic values of the attitudes of information system users. -Note, this author frequently repeats certain terms-. These attitudes are studied from the standpoint of the taxonomy used and the meaning of the term terms relating to these possible attitudes. Topics susch as psychological health, ontological bases, social attitudes, etc. are introduced. In Fig. 2, called "dendrogram", the terms used are related by means of lines which are interleaved according to the degree of similarity of the terms. The type of terms is always the same. The author attempts to show that the user attitudes are not so different and offer few variations. Up to this point, reference is made to users as groups. However, he also studies them individually, placing emphasis on their behaviour within their environment. In repsonse to information science, individual users behave the same way individually as they do in a group. The same reasoning is applied to them. 

In the future, research on this topic should be continued, especially in reference to multidisciplinary studies. 

The next chapter was written by Nuria Lloret Romero, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (Spain), the other co-editor of this book. 

It is entitled: “Review and brief history of collaborative systems, taxonomies, service and classification.”

This chapter is very interesting in that it presents a historical review of what has been done in relation to the creation and applications of collaborative systems. She also analyses the literature on the subject and examines certain case studies and research projects, all within the field of computer supported collaborative systems. 

These systems have evolved over the years and the year 1968 is mentioned as the possible starting date. This was the year in which the CSCW (Computer Support Cooperative Work) which is essential for new research, was presented.

In 1975 a program appeared which allowed for the use of shared screens, telepointing and videoconferencing.  According to the data found, in 1981 the term "groupware" began to be used. Looking to the future, these systems have evolved so quickly that there is hardly any specific data. Everything appears to have happened at the same time.

Taxonomically, the author goes on to define some terms related to these topics, such as Groupware, CSCW, Role, User, Shared/Objects, Wokspace, Session, Tool, Setting, Collaborative Associations, Shared/Repository, Telepointer, Protocol, View, Meta-protocol, Awareness and Avatar, among others. 

The evolution of collaborative systems is then desribed more extensively.  HCI (Human Computer Interaction) systems are first explored. Due to the influence of successive inventions and software, these systems have changed very significantly to reach the so-called Web 2.0 approach. 
-Note: Nowadays there is talk of Web 3.0-. 

With the advent of personal computers and more recently, mobile phones, a new technological development in collaborative systems has again arisen. The considereation of the space-time parameter has recently contributed to these developments.

The author offers a description of the most popular collaborative systems, starting with video-conferencing, chat, electronic meetings, electronic voting, shared whiteboards, co-authoring, multiuser hypermedia, collaborative virtual environments, planning groups, audio conferencing, online social networking, document management, etc. A large section is devoted to describing SNSs (Social Network Sites), which are services based on Web technologies enabling you to build a public profile, have a list of users, and browse by connection lists. The examples cited are Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Friendster, Myspace, etc. In conclusion, she effectively shows us a wide range of collaborative networks and their evolution over time.

The next chapter is entitled “Adaptative Information Retrieved based on Task Context”, by Bich-Liên Doan and Jean Paul Sansonnet (France).

In this chapter, the authors study the importance of introducing the appropriate repository, whether already programmed or new, in information search and artificial intelligence domains. These fields, which are so different, can be complementary. They can also influence each other, if the need to establish connections with the creators of information systems and their users is taken into account. 

A detailed study has been carried out on what may perhaps be a science, i.e. information search science, based on contexts, which, for example, are from an information center, where the previous processes of collecting, indexing and repository filing have been carried out.

With the current increase in the mobility and ubiquity of the users, and taking into account the diversity of existing repositories, tools and interfaces, you can easily access information, but some conditions should be required. The repositories should be constructed in accordance with their aspects, such as nature, structure, behavior and peculiarities. The psychological factors of the creators and users will also have to be taken into account. Studies of philosophy, psychology, linguistics and computer sciences should be performed. Human aspects should also be considered, such as perception, representation, interpretation, and the use of reference systems. 

The author then explores topics relating to the search for already structured information using the system under study, taking into account interactive, adaptive or personalized searches. It highlights the importance of user-computer relationships, advocating for systems which are the easiest and most commonly used such as Yahoo and Google. 

Adding certain system devices to make the search easier is also discussed. In this regard, the way in which users make questions is discussed. It is curious to observe how users who are searching for the same answer ask the related question in different ways. Computers (programs and software built by humans) have to interpret the question and offer the appropriate response. For this purpose there are certain programs allowing for interaction, dialogue, questions and answers, which make the question to be answered by the computer more exact. The issue of natural language is very important. The computer should understand the language in which .you are working 

With the advent of digital systems, software becomes more complicated.  This is where large changes have occurred in the "question-answer" mode. Not only has the computer changed its structure and programs, users have also changed their attitudes. This is something which is very difficult. 

As a result, language (human) and the appropriateness of the questions formulated have become a topic of debate once again. Some graphics and explanations are provided to illustrate this topic. 

In the future, the influence of virtual systems should continue to be studied in order to build a unified platform which combines both symbolic and formal models so as to give positive responses to users. 

In all the chapters of this book in which users are studied, the same reasoning, problems and performance techniques are repeated. The databases or repositories have to be organised using the rules in force. There must be classification, indexing, and storage systems which are appropriate in each case, and finally, specialists in the subjects covered. 

The chapter entitled “Information retrieved in archives” by Vicente Giménez Chornet, Universdidad Politécnica de Valencia, (España), deals with a special case relating to archives.  

The above conditions are repeated, and emphasis is placed on the fact that the archivists must be specialists in the subject and care must also be taken to assure there are enough archivists to to carry out the required mission. Many times, the lack of personnel leads the organisation of the archives to be neglected, causing confusion among users. 

A number of paragraphs are devoted to the study of the application of the rules in force. Not all rules are appropriate for every kind of archive. 

Another issue the author considers to be important is the addition of a new document to an archive which has already been created.  When the archive is historical, the problem is even more serious because it is necessary to know the dates of the document. It is advisable to follow the rules, and in any case, not to create a parallel archive. However, it may be advisable to include an additional note. This is true in both the case of manual archives which do still exist and in mechanized archives. 

This author proposes continuing the same line of research. 

The next chapter entitled “Management Systems of User Interfaces in funcionalities in Iberoamérica: Webs OPACs, was written by Elsa Barber, Silvia Pisano, Sandra Romagnoli, Verónica Parsiale, Gabriela de Pedro, Carolina Grogui y Nancy Blanco, all from the Universidad de Buenos Aires, (Argentina).

We are told that the process of .mechanizing libraries began in the 1880s in Latin American countries, at times when these countries were experiencing poor political and economic conditions. This negatively effected the development of such mechanisation, and these effects are still noted today. The studies focus on the university libraries in Latin American countries. 

It was concluded that of most importance was to have well organised libraries where OPAC systems were installed.

Subsequently, the authors present a detailed study of research by a number of specialists from many different countries. These studies evidence the gaps found over the years in this region of the planet. It was highlighted that by percentage, the most advanced countries are Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. 

These authors once again discuss collaborative systems and state that the most suitable to meet the needs of the user are the OPACs in Web 2.0, which are the systems most commonly used, given their functionalities.

They emphasize the need to disseminate knowledge using ICI (Information Computer Interaction) systems, through units of information in all of Latin America in order to take part in collaborative systems and create network knowledge. 

The conclusion is that the situation in certain countries is quite acceptable and that university libraries are on the right track. These topics will continue to be researched. 

The next chapter by Álvaro Quijano-Solís and Guadalupe Vega, (both from Colegio de México), is entitled “Academia libraries as complex systems”.

These authors once again focus on the topic of university libraries, but this time from the standpoint of Systems Theory. They begin by defining academia (university) libraries as systems pertaining to a higher education institution of a broad spectrum.  They supply information resources and other similar services to professors, researchers and students. 

Academia libraries have undergone major changes in recent years, both in terms of organization, structure and distribution, and in terms of political, economic and social conditioning factors. The authors extensively describe their functions, tasks and obligations. They emphasize that these are collaborative systems, which implies that they are also social systems.

It is very important to take into account both educational and social aspects, all within an environment which is now based on Internet. The introduction of electronic working methods has led to the change being experienced in these times.  This type of library must focus on a learning environment rather than a teachning environment.  Users, whether teachers or students, look for materials and information, in order to solve problems they face in their research or studies, all based on so-called Information Technology. In order to provide users with appropriate information, intelligent and cognitive processes must be followed which satisfy users acting both individually and as a group in a balanced way.  

In fact, Systems Theories in which the library is considered as a highly complex system, have been relied on in order to be able to organise a good and efficient university library. 

The authors then describe how a system can be defined and what it should consist of: structures, the "objects", their composition and the environment where they are located. The objects in this case are the library collection. On the other hand, there should be cooperation between the collection and users to make the system work. They refer to communities of practice and learning communities. 

Communities of Practice are studied in depth. Definitions are provided and numerous variants are cited.  For the purpose of studying such communities, the principles of the Activity Theory are applied. As a result, a new definition of library is outlined. The Activity Theory continues to be applied, and human activity is referred to to highlight that in the operation of a university library, of most importance is the human factor.  

Now, an academia library is described as a "complex system" where contextual activity is considered as a whole consisting of the following subsystems: data collection, coordination, organization, strategy, planning, development, background, learning module and innovation module. 

They the authors propose a model from a systemic standpoint, which takes into account the properties of communities of practice and Activity Theory in order to address organizational problems, so that people (users) can transform inputs into products and add value through teaching and learning models. 

In the future, this topic will continue to be researched. 

The last chapter of this book is by Margarita Cabrera,  currently from the, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, (Spain) and is entitled “Cultural Management 2.0”, 

In this chapter 2.0 systems are explored from the standpoint of organization and dissemination of culture. The 2.0 program is situated within the field of electronic techniques, and specifically digital website systems, which is why they are referred to as Web 2.0 systems.  When they appeared it was assumed that an end point had been reached. However, there is already talk of Web 3.0.

The main objective is to describe the state of the art (looking at the past to some extent) of organizational culture, from the standpoint of Web 2.0. The author analyzes where we have come from and where we are going, as far as culture is concerned.. We come from an analog world and are headed towards a more complex digital world. The latest cultural institutions are cited and discussed, being considered as social communication systems. Their evolution over recent years is also explored. In fact, Web 2.0 is an advanced version of protocols and communication and dissemination programs within the organizations of culture.

They base their studies on communities of users, in a special field of services of a varied nature. Despite everything, their importance is not technological in nature, but rather is related to attitudes towards Web 2.0 and to society as a whole.. 

In these systems, of most relevance are the users. This converts them into an existential phenomenon of research and applications among participants (real users). The author also explains that the user is a figure generating organizational models that can help improve the services provided in social institutions, taking into account social participation and media. 

The author then lists the conditions the user or team must fulfill in order to make use of Web 2.0 in social networks. From a long list, highlighted are those that seem most relevant, such as: immediacy, freedom, transparency, being close and accessible, being constant, and so on. It is equally important to consider the issue of natural languages used. 

With digital tools specific to Web 2.0 environments, you can create intelligent cultures which act by themselves as automatons or robots. The greatest difficulty posed by these practices is dissemination. It is pointed out that the content agents, actors and organizations must be good professionals, and they should be very knowledgeable about the issues with which they work. 

In the future, research on the creation of more independent and intelligent cultural and social Web 2.0 systems will be continued. 

COMMENTS

It may be wrong for me to say so but this is indeed an original book with important developments. There is a point of originality in all the topics discussed. The authors may deal with issues which are already known, but they do so from fresher points of view. 

Information is studied in greath depth, giving rise to new ideas and reasonings not seen before, useful reasons which may enable us to discern what the characteristics, use and nature of information may be. The studies of vertical integration of sciences and informationism are pioneering in that we have heard little about these subjects to date. 

The chapter devoted to the evolution of collaborative systems based on reliable data is very illuminating. 

The different chapters devoted to studying users in one manner or another present new and unknown characteristics, attitudes and practices which had not been explored to date. The chapter on the status of collaborative systems in Latin America, shows us unfamiliar situations and perspectives. The chapter on university libraries presents a serious study of their status and current activities, both now and in the near future. 

This book is enjoyable to read and you need not be a specialist in these subjects to understand them. I would even dare to say that these pages contribute to increasing general culture. However, they are also essential for specialists, scholars, teachers at any level of education and students. 

Here you are provided a basis from which to draw on for your own teaching and to discuss these topics in classes, or when you have to give a lecture, or prepare a presentation for a conference.  This information is also useful for students who wish to expand on the notes they have taken in class. 

This book should not be missing from any university or general library or from the office of any scholor, professor and user of all the systems dealt with in this book. 

I predict it will be quite successful- 

Emilia Currás
Academian and University Profesor
E-mail: emilia.curras@uam.es
Madrid, 
21 September 2011

Author(s)/Editor(s) Biography

Emilia Currás is a researcher and teacher, Ph D in Chemistry, University Professor for Information Sience (LIS); Introducer of LIS studies in Spain and some Iberoamerican countries; Founder of SEDIC (Spanish Society for Inf. Science); Fellow of Inst for Inf. Scientists; IBI (UK) Distinguished Woman; Decorated by the Colombian Republic Government whit Pergamino and Cruz de Caballero; has been paid tribute in Spain and a book has been dedicated to her “A life: Profession and Passion”. She is Academician: Royal Doctor´s Academy, Madrid; Royal Academy of Fine Arts and Historical Sciences, Toledo and Academy of Fine Arts Brasilia; Woman of Year 2004 (USA); Isko-Spain Honorary President. Has received several gold, silver Medals and Emblems from Asian, Middle East, European and Iberoamerican LIS Institutions; Distinguished member of Official Chemical Spanish Association and Doctor and Teacher Spanish Association; Founder member of several Spanish LIS Societies; Invited from Asian, American, European and Middle East government to delivery lectures and conferences. She has held several executive position at national and international Universities and Institutions. She belongs to several national and international Editorial Board, such as Journal for Information Science; Vice-president of ATENEO (Cultural Spanish Society) -Section for Science and Technology-.As consequence of her RESEARCHES has formulate a New Epistemological Theory: INFORMATIONIMS and an INTEGRAL VERTICAL OF SCIENCE and also has developed new educational and professional teaching methods. Introductory in Spain of the General Theory of Systems and Systematics applied to LIS. Emilia Currás is a member of Club of Rome-Spanish Chapter and Foundation Pro Academia Española, among other religious and cultural Associations.
Nuria Lloret Romero, PhD, is a researcher and university professor for Information Services Planning and Evaluation of Quality in Information Services. Current director of the Department of Audiovisual Communication, History of Art and Information Science (DCADHA) in the Polytechnic University of Valencia, she was deputy director of the Instituto Tecnológico del Plástico (AIMPLAS) from 1990 to 1999. She is also director of the CALSI Master’s Programme in the Polytechnic University of Valencia, as well as director of the CALSI Research Group, where she has focused her research on collaborative systems. She is co-founder and CEO of MASmedios SL, and has also worked as an expert for project evaluation within EU’s Programme for Information Society IST. Among other positions held, she is founder member and former president of AVEI (Valencian Association for Information Specialists), former president of FESABID (Spanish Federation of Associations of Information Specialists), former president of IFLA’s Latin American Caucus, member of EBLIDA’s (European Bureau of Information Systems) Executive Committee, member of the National Committee for Certification of Information Professionals and Vice-president of AECTA (Association of Innovative Companies from the Valencian Community).

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