Understanding Hofstede Cultural Dimensions

As I am working on multicultural information literacy, I am trying to find out which multicultural aspects or indicators should be considered in providing information literacy instructions for international students. Honestly speaking, the more I am reading the more I am getting confused about this. The interesting thing is that after reading some literature on this, I observed that the cultural dimensions the authors utilized are based on the ‘Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory’ where he had presented six cultural dimensions.

Geert Hofstede is a former employee of IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) where he started his career as a management trainer. Later he became the manager of personnel research department of IBM international. Subsequently, between the year of 1967 and 1973, Hofstede conducted a global survey on the value system of the IBM employees. In the process of assessing national value differences of the employees, he analyzed the answers of 117000 employees across the world-wide over 70 subsidiaries of the IBM [1]. So, Hofstede’s original cultural dimension model was based on the factor analysis of those acquired data.

 

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Hofstede’s cultural dimensions

In the theory of cultural dimensions, Geert Hofstede provided a framework by utilizing his self-designed cultural dimensions. Then he investigated the status of cross-cultural communication of the individual countries under that framework. In other words, this theory studies significant aspects (the six dimensions) of culture and provides them a rating on a comparison scale. Notably, Hofstede’s model provided scales from 0 to 100 for each dimension, and each country has a position on each scale or index relative to other countries. Accordingly, basing on the derived survey results, Hofstede attempted to explain the impact of the culture (within the scope of his self-designed cultural dimensions) on the values of the members of the respective countries and their behavioral changes caused by those thereby. Finally, he compared the collective cultural behaviors of the countries across the world. According to Hofstede, the concerned values do not only have impacts on the way people of different cultural background behave but also impact on the manner in which they will potentially behave when placed in a work associated context.

Initially, the author introduced four dimensions namely power distance, avoidance uncertainty, individualism v collectivism, and masculinity v femininity which was subsequently extended by two more dimensions namely long-term v short-term orientation and indulgence vs restraint. All of these dimensions are discussed shortly in the following.

Power Distance

This dimension presents, to what extent the less powerful people of a country accepts and expects the inequality of power distribution to take place. Notably, this dimension does not measure the level of power distribution in a given culture but rather analyzes the way people feel about it [2]. A high score in the scale explains that the formal social hierarchy is clearly established and executed in the culture of the country. Since the people in high power distance countries accept their place within the hierarchical order where every member of the country has a place to, therefore, no justification to validate such hierarchy appears to be necessary in the country. On the other hand, in the low power distance countries, people are more aware of their rights and they believe that the power relation is democratic where everyone should have equal power. [2] People strive to equalise the power distribution in such country and they tend to demand justification for such unequal power distribution [3].

Notably, in the business context, the characteristics of high power distance countries include – employees like to be guided and directed by the management in completing any given task, otherwise they consider the task as unimportant. So, more supervisors or managers are required in those countries. Besides, centralized authority, acceptance of privileges that come with power are common characteristics [4]. Alternatively, the low power distance countries include consultative style management, decentralized decision-making authority, small number of supervisory staff and questioning the authority.

Uncertainty avoidance

This dimension explains the degree of countries’ tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. It basically covers peoples’ attitude of embracing or averting the events those are unexpected, unknown, and disturbance to status quo of the country. Countries with high scores in this index appear to be less tolerant of changes and have strict codes of belief and behavior, laws, guidelines, rules and regulations. People of these countries also rely on absolute truth because they believe that such single lone truth dictates everything, and they confidently know that truth [5]. On the other side, the low scoring countries are more tolerant towards unorthodox behaviors and ideas. People of these countries are more liberal towards freedom of expressions and accustomed to ambiguity.

In the countries with high scores, the employees need to be provided clear instruction, standardized procedure, written rules and defined structure in an organization. Here, the employees are also reluctant to change jobs and acquire promotion on the basis of age or seniority. Alternatively, the employees of low scoring countries dislike rules, do not mind changing jobs, and inclined to open-ended learning [6].

Individualism vs. Collectivism

This dimension explains the extent to which people of the countries are integrated together. The individualistic countries indicate that the people have loose relation with other people except for their immediate family members. The people of such society are also reluctant to take responsibility for the actions of others. In contrast, the collectivist country people maintain strong relationship with their family, extended family, and cohesive in-group members who continuously protect them in exchange of unquestioning loyalty and desire to oppose other in-group outsiders. [6] As a member of a high scoring country, the lifestyle of a Guatemalan is likely to be based around close family ties with strong community support [7].

Masculinity vs Femininity

This dimension basically explains which sets of values are considered more important to a certain country. The masculinity side of the dimension demonstrates preference for achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material rewards for success to the culture of the country. Alternatively, the femininity side represents the preference for modesty, cooperation, quality of life and caring for the weak. Besides, it was observed that the women of masculinity countries are more empathic and competitive compare to women of feminine countries [8] [9] [10]. 

Long-Term Orientation vs. Short-Term Orientation

This dimension was initially named as Confucian Work Dynamism by Michael Harris Bond, but when Hofstede adopted this as his fifth dimension, with the permission of the author, he renamed it as Long-Term versus Short-Term Orientation. There were strong correlations found with this dimension and the recent economic growth, whereas none of the initial four dimensions presented such links to economic growth which led the author to add this as his fifth dimension [11].

The Long-Term Orientation side of the dimension corresponds to Bond’s Confucian Work Dynamism. Notably, Confucius (551–479 BC) teaches the principles like the existence of unequal relationship among people ensures social stability, family is the prototype of social organisation, not treating others in a way that oneself does not prefers to be treated, and in relation to acts of life acquiring skills, education, hard work, spending wisely, and showing perseverance and patience [4]. So, when the positively rated values of this dimension include perseverance, ordering relationships by status, thrift, and having a sense of shame, the opposite side values reciprocate social obligations, respect for tradition, protecting one’s ‘face’, and personal steadiness and stability [6].

Indulgence vs. restraint

This sixth dimension was named by Minkov and was added in 2010. This dimension explains the degree of control by which the culture of a country imposes over the peoples’ impulses and desires. This dimension basically focusses on happiness. The indulgent countries allow relatively free gratification of basic and natural human desires related to enjoying life and having fun. In contrary, restraint countries tend to control gratification of needs and regulates it by means of strict social norms.

However, the ratings of these dimensions for individual countries does not mean that certain cultures are better than others but rather present their position in the scale. In my opinion, culture might be influenced by the socio-economic system, but culture itself is the reflection of the perception of individuals as well as large group of people. Combination of such individual and collective perceptions of them are shaped by the language, behaviour, information, and knowledge. According to Cutler [12], the culture is multi-layered which he explained under onion theory. The very inner part of this layer is made of the knowledge that most people are unaware of like, space, time, existence, human identity and purpose, social organization, the way of thinking and communicating those etc. To the people who are unaware of this branch of knowledge as well as to the others who are aware of these factors, this massively unknown and uncertain hollowness influences to create illusions. I believe people are constantly consciously or unconsciously driven by those illusions. Since the culture derives from the individual as well as collective efforts of the people, such illusions also constantly work as the most influential factor towards the culture.

References

  1. Shi, X. and Wang, J., (2011). Interpreting hofstede model and globe model: which way to go for cross-cultural research?. International journal of business and management6(5), p.93.
  2. WorldSpeaking (No date) Geert hofstede and cultural-dimensions theory—an overview. Available at: http://news.telelangue.com/en/2011/09/cultural-theory
  3. B2U (2017) Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Available at: http://www.business-to-you.com/hofstedes-cultural-dimensions/
  4. Understanding Cultures & People with Hofstede Dimensions (2015) Introduction to Hofstede’s cultural dimensions. Available at: https://www.cleverism.com/understanding-cultures-people-hofstede-dimensions/
  5. Hofstede, Geert (1991). Cultures and organizations: software of the mind. London: McGraw-Hill.
  6. Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.9707/2307-0919.1014
  7. Redpath, L. (1997). A comparison of native culture, non-native culture and new management ideology. Revue Canadienne des Sciences de l’ Administration 14(3): 327.
  8. MindTools (No date) Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions: Understanding Different Countries. Available at: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_66.htm
  9. Schneider, S. C. and J.-L. Barsoux (1997). Managing Across Cultures. Europe, Prentice Hall.
  10. Smith, M. (1998). Culture and organisational change. Management Accounting 76(7): 60.
  11. Hofstede, G. & Bond, M. H. (1988). The Confucius connection: from cultural roots to economic growth. Organizational Dynamics, 16, 4-21.
  12. Cutler, J. (2005). The cross-cultural communication trainer’s manual.2 vols. Aldershot: Gower Publishing.       
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Multilingualism and Multiculturalism

kids-and-globeIn the last one and half month, I have been trying to search and collect documents relating to multilingual and multicultural information literacy. Then I felt that before going for these I need to be clear about what actually multilingualism and multiculturalism means.

In this present days, the term Multilingualism is very common all over the world. This is because there are nearly 7000 languages within 200 independent countries in the world (Lewis, 2009). So, it is clear that the numbers of languages are more than the numbers of countries. However, the term ‘multilingualism’ can be defined in a smaller context from the bilingualism perspective as where an individual is very close to two monolingualism. In a broader sense, the multilingualism demonstrates such common human conditions which enables them to function or communicate in more than one language. According to Li (2008), multilingual individual can be regarded as “anyone who can communicate in more than one language, be it active (through speaking and writing) or passive (through listening and reading)”. A famous definition of multilingualism is “the ability of societies, institutions, groups and individuals to engage, on a regular basis, with more than one language in their day-to-day lives” (The European Commission, 2007, p. 6). So, it can be said that the definition of multilingualism was provided more or less in a similar fashion which indicates the ability of the individuals, institutions or the societies to communicate either in active or passive way in more than one language.

In my opinion, the definition of multiculturalism is more interesting because it covers multilingualism too. Among various definitions of multiculturalism, I liked the most that was given by the Cutler.  Cutler (2005) viewed the multiculturalism as an Onion which is multi-layered. The upper layer of this consists of observable behaviors and various types of styles like organization and work style, thinking and learning styles, communication styles, and relationship styles. Below that layer, the value systems and norms exist, which also includes shared values and acceptable standards of behaviors. The core layer of that includes, according to authors opinion, the ‘basic truths’ which are based on the very ideas of culture like space, time, human identity and purpose, social organization, the way of thinking and communicating those. According to Rosado (1996), “Multiculturalism is a system of beliefs and behaviours that recognizes and respects the presence of all diverse groups in an organization or society, acknowledges and values their socio-cultural differences, and encourages and enables their continued contribution within an inclusive cultural context which empowers all within the organization or society”. On the other hand, Nieto (2010, p.78) defined culture as continuously changing traditions, values, social and political associations and views of a particular group of people who shares the combination of common history, tradition, language, location, and class (social or religion). The culture is constituted of a set of common mental programming of particular groups or peoples who individually possess several independent layers of mental programming or moral views themselves and at the same time belong to several different other groups in national, ethnic, religious, linguistic, gender, generation, social class, employment, professional level and correspond to each other. However, in this modern age, these layers or values are conflicting sometimes because of different behavioral approaches of the individuals as well as the particular groups which makes their behaviors unpredictable in the new situation (Hofstede, 1991). So, it can be said that the culture is consist of continuously changing common human behaviours and practices influenced by the common background of history, religion, tradition, language, ethnicity, beliefs, social class, values, location, gender and generation of a group of people which intersect with their own independent individual layer of mental thoughts. The multiculturalism, however, is the acknowledgment, recognition and respecting diverse shared regular cultural behaviors which are validated by the acceptable social norms, values, and standards of conduct and backed by the very idea of culture like space, time, social organization, human identity, the way of thinking and communicating those.

However, it can be understood that it is important to discuss the relationship or association of language and culture and its importance in the educational sector. It is well accepted that the language and culture are closely associated. Verbal and written expression of the culture can be considered as language. The relationship between language and culture is inseparable. The structure of any given language may pave the perception of viewing the world for a group of people who speaks that language. Even the meanings hosted by a particular language also reflects the culture of its speakers for which different meanings and perceptions can be found for same words in different context. Therefore, understanding a culture without gaining any understanding of its language is impossible.

In the broader context, learning a language helps in learning different parts of the world, including their social behaviors and customs. So, the language might be observed as a product of thoughts, and social and cultural behaviors of a community. Besides, the language has been used for providing education since long ago. It is always encouraged to use the local languages as the medium of educational instruction for the sake of proper learning. It is very common that the pupil face difficulties in pursuing education in a foreign language not only for linguistic obstacles but also for cultural and social differences even though all of these are, however, interrelated to each other. Therefore, it can be said that providing educational instructions in local languages is important for the sake of providing better education and it stands on top of the factor of preserving culture.  So, both language and culture are important in the educational environment. In this present days of globalization, it is very common that most of the students pursue their initial school and college education in their home country using their native language when a large number of students conduct their higher education in foreign language. Though this has so many positive impacts in terms of sharing culture, experience, knowledge, and languages but the students, unavoidably, faces difficulties due to their diverse cultural and lingual differences. So, there are huge scopes of working in this area to address, identify and find solutions to remove these barriers.     

References

Cutler, J. (2005). The cross-cultural communication trainer’s manual. 2 vols. Aldershot: Gower Publishing.

European Commission. (2007). Final report: High level group on multilingualism.Lux- embourg: European Communities. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/education/ policies/lang/doc/multireport_en.pdf

Hofstede (1991) Cultures and Organizations. doi: 10.1007/s11569-007-0005-8.

Lewis, M. P. (Ed.). (2009). Ethnologue: Languages of the world (16th ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International. Retrieved from http://www.ethnologue.com/

Li, W. (2008) Research perspectives on bilingualism and multilingualism. In W. Li & M. Moyer (Eds.), The Blackwell handbook of research methods on bilingualism and multilingualism (pp. 3–17). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Rosado, C. (1996) Toward a definition of multiculturalism, 21, p. 2008. Available at: http://rosado.net/pdf/Def_of_Multiculturalism.pdf.

 

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Starting a journey to my dream!!!

Hello everyone!!

It’s me Shohana Nowrin, and I am very excited to share you all that recently I have joined in CityLIS as a research student. Before joining here, I have completed my graduation and post-graduation from the Department of Information Science and Library Management of University of Dhaka, Bangladesh and also completed my second master’s in Library Science from City, University of London with distinction. After completion of my post- graduation from the University of Dhaka, I had joined in the same university in the same department as a Lecturer and currently, I am serving as an assistant professor in there. Not only that, I had also worked as a Library officer for a short period of time in a private university of Bangladesh before starting my career as a teacher. I love my background in the field of Library and Information Science and I would love to spend my rest of the life working in this area and by witnessing the evolution of this field.

For my research, I have chosen the area of information literacy in a multicultural and multilingual environment within higher education. Currently, the libraries of higher education institutions are offering information literacy instructions to their students but those are mostly limited to subscribe to English only. However, in this age of globalization where higher education institutions are promoting cultural diversity in their institutions, the academic libraries should also look for options to meet the needs of international students[1]. Accordingly, information literacy is very important to satisfy the huge demand of information emanated from these students as information literacy refer to the group of skills that enable a person to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information”[2]. Without having appropriate literacy instructions in place, difficulties may occur to the international students in understanding the academic practices of plagiarism and copyright law because of their different cultural ideas towards intellectual properties[3]. While I was studying my MSc at CityLIS, I had also come across different types of multilingual and multicultural challenges because of my cultural and language differences. So, the area of information literacy on multicultural and multilingual environment attracted me massively since I faced the same condition by my own.

Although, it is too early to finalize any specific outcomes of my project at the initial stage, however, I am curious to find out what types of challenges are faced in understanding information literacy instructions by the students of higher education who came from multicultural environments and exploring their experiences or opinions in solving these challenges. Due to the absence of appropriate information literacy instructions for the culturally diverse group of students, the librarians of the higher education institutions may also experience new challenges in providing literacy instructions to the non-native English students. So this also important to investigate their opinions and experiences towards designing information literacy courses or programmes. I am also interested to find out whether there are any models, which have previously considered the issues of multilingual and multicultural aspects in higher education institutions, amongst various existing models of information literacy, and if not, then what would be the solution for the students of higher education in these circumstances. I hope that my research might make a great contribution towards understanding information literacy instructions and programmes for the non-native English students.

References

  1. Amsberry, D. (2008). Talking the talk: library classroom communication and international students. The Journal of Academic Librarianship,34 (4), 354-357.
  2. ACRL (2000) Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Chicago, IL: Association of College and Research Libraries.
  3. Badke, W. (2002), International students: information literacy or academic literacy? Academic Exchange Quarterly, 6(4), 60-65

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End of 2nd Term!!! My thoughts as an international student @ CityLIS.

It was the day of 26th September 2016 when I joined to the City, University of London and became a member of CityLIS. I would like to say that it was the most memorable and lovely day of my life. Before joining to the CityLIS I was really scared and worried about new environment, new educational system and many more other thoughts were circled in my mind (although I visited London 3 more times before joining CityLIS 😊). But I can still remember that smiley face of Dr Lyn Robinson on that day when she cordially welcomed us at the induction day. On that day, I met with all the lovely people of CityLIS specially Dr Lyn Robinson, Dr David Bawden, Ludi Price (Phd student of CityLIS), and all of our fellow nice classmates and returned home with a smiling face.

Time flies. It is almost end of the 2nd term. I can’t believe that we are going to finish this journey very soon. I learned a lot from this last six months during when I visited so many libraries and places (British Library, The National Archives, Linklaters, Internet Archives, Wellcome Collections and so on); attended a lots of seminar, workshop, lectures organized by CityLIS; met with our lovely guest lecturers from different institutions and organizations and many more. It was really a great opportunity for us which we got from CityLIS. One important thing I would like to mention here that all my worriedness and anxiousness that were going through in my mind before joining here are gone away like a magic. I did not face any problems to adapt this new educational system. And this was happened only because of this lovely and friendly environment of CityLIS. When I feel any queries about anything, surprisingly, I observed it was posted in our Moodle forum by our Course leaders before even asking about that. I don’t know how they do this :)😊.!!! It is really amazing. Not only that, I also received the reply of my queries made through email very promptly. The only painful job is to do our Coursework within a deadline 😝 😝 …….

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Photo credit: Dr. Lyn Robinson

Although we are going to finish this lovely journey (which I don’t want to do so ☹☹) but I believe that we will not forget each other and we will keep in touch always. Love you all. Love you #CityLIS.

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AI, Robot and Library: A new dimension in LIS

robot-librarianThe emergence of technological revolution attempted to create machines that could replace man’s physical power. Researchers are working to expand the capabilities and the power of computers by developing hardware and software that can initiate intelligent human behavior. Experts are convinced that it is now only a matter of time; the present generation will experience the impact and utility of new applications based on artificial intelligence in offices, factories, libraries and homes.

What is AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence exhibited by machines. In computer science, an ideal “intelligent” machine is a flexible rational agent that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of success at some goal (Wikipedia). Artificial Intelligence mainly focuses on understanding and performing intelligent tasks such as reasoning, learning new skills and adopting to new situations and problems. It is concerned with the concept and methods of symbolic inferences by computer and the symbolic representation of knowledge to be used in making inferences (Nilson, 1998). In general Artificial Intelligence is the subfield of Computer Science concerned with understanding the nature of intelligence and constructing computer systems capable of intelligence action (Winston, 1999).

Examples of Robotics in the Library and Archives Activities

The field robotics is often described as the subfield of AI that is concerned with perceptual and motor tasks. Robot is a mechanical device which performs automation tasks, either according to direct human supervision or a pre-defined program or a set of general guidelines, using artificial intelligence techniques. (Wikipedia/robotics,2014). At present robot plays a great role in library activities at the same time in storing materials. Here some examples of how robotics works in library and archives that I collected from different sources.

Westport Public Library

Connecticut’s Westport Library recently acquired two robots, Vincent and Nancy, that will be used to help teach coding and computer-programming skills. Let’s introduce them through this Youtube link.

 

Robot librarian designed by Aberystwyth University students

Pasi William Sachiti and Ariel Ladegaard, the robotics students at Aberystwyth University who created Hugh, combined existing robot technology with information from the university’s online library search facility to create their brainchild. “Hugh”, an artificially intelligent library catalogue, will be able to take verbal book requests, work out where the hard copy is and lead students to the relevant bookshelf.

picmonkey-collage

 

Mansueto Library, University of Chicago

The Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) claims to allow readers access to their desired materials within minutes.

Bodleian Book Storage Facility, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

154 miles of shelving hold over 6.5 million volumes of books and periodicals in this new storage unit where cranes navigate among the uniform boxes.

NAVA Tape library robot, Budapest, Hungary

One petabyte (1000 TB) data is stored in this audio-visual library on 1200 IBM Tivoli LTO tapes, retrieved by this automated mechanism upon online request.

National Newspaper Archive, Boston Spa, United Kingdom

Millions of newspapers are stored on racks at the British Library’s National Newspaper Building. The newly built storage void holds 60 million newspapers and periodicals spanning more than three centuries. The temperature and humidity controlled store is operated by robot cranes and can retrieve newspapers from any time and date.

BOSTON SPA, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 23: Resident engineer John Roberts poses as he looks at the millions of newspapers stored on racks at the National Newspaper Archive on January 23, 2015 in Boston Spa, United Kingdom. The British Librarys brand new National Newspaper Building officially opened today. The newly built storage void holds 60 million newspapers and periodicals spanning more than three centuries. The temperature and humidity controlled store is operated by robot cranes and can retrieve newspapers from any time and date. The British Library spent six months moving the archive from its previous home in Colindale, north London. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

AuRoss by (A*STAR)

A group of researchers at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) have developed a robot that can wander among the stacks at night, scanning shelves for misplaced books. In order to identify and keep track of the books, AuRoSS relies on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. These little chips are used in everything from office key cards to passports. In recent years, libraries have begun using them to help keep track of books, scanning the spines with hand-held devices. In order for AuRoSS to successfully scan RFID tags, it has to stay at just the right distance away from the shelves.

NCI Tape library robot, Newcomb College Institute of Tulane University

NCI is capable of holding 9520 tapes, storing between 13.9 uncompressed and 28.5 compressed Petabytes of data. The time taken for the system to deliver data after a user request depends upon the location of the robot that retrieves tapes, availability of a free tape drive, and the location of the data stored on the 800m plus length of tape. Typically, this delivery occurs between 30 seconds to a few minutes.

Advantages of Artificial Intelligence

  1. Can take on stressful and complex work that humans may struggle /can not do;
  2. Can complete task faster than a human can most likely;
  3. To discover unexplored things. i.e. outer space;
  4. Less errors and defects;
  5. Function is infinite. (sstramel,2014)

Disadvantages of Artificial Intelligence

  1.  Lacks the “human touch”
  2. Has the ability to replace human jobs
  3. Can malfunction and do the opposite of what they are programmed to do
  4. Can be misused leading to mass scale destruction
  5.  May corrupt younger generation(sstramel,2014)

It is sure that in the near future artificial intelligence will occupy in all the spheres with the introduction of competent models with AI techniques. Library and Information Science will be greatly benefited by the development of the efficient expert system for technical services as well as Information processing and management.

References

Attila Nagy.(2015). The Giant Robots That Serve the World’s Largest Library Archives. [ONLINE] Available at: http://gizmodo.com/the-giant-robots-that-serve-the-worlds-largest-library-1700712936. [Accessed 04 December 2016].

Nil’s, J.Nilson. (1998) Artificial Intelligence. New Delhi: Harcourt , 280-281

Patrick Henry Winston. (1999) Artificial Intelligence, Addison Wesley, New Delhi:10-12.

Renjun Li, Zhiyong Huang, E. Kurniawan and Chin Keong Ho,(2015) “AuRoSS: An Autonomous Robotic Shelf Scanning system,” IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Hamburg, pp. 6100-6105. doi: 10.1109/IROS.2015.7354246

 Web sources

Artificial Intelligence and its applications in Libraries. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287878456_Artificial_Intelligence_and_its_applications_in_Libraries [accessed Nov 30, 2016].

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/robot-librarian-designed-aberystwyth-university-students

http://www.mhpbooks.com/we-need-to-talk-about-robot-librarians/

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/robot-librarian-locates-haphazardly-placed-books-180959381/

http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg/research/7512/high-tech-librarian-knows-its-books

http: // www. sstramel.blogspot.in/2009/09/artificial-intelligence-advantages

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Metadata: a question of blessings or threats !!!

metadataWhat is Metadata

Metadata is data about data or information about information. According to NISO (2004) it is called structured information that describes, explains, traces, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage an information resource. Metadata is key to ensure that resources will survive and continue to be accessible into the future. It is not the content of the information surface; it is the information that tells us something about the contents. For example, metadata for phone calls includes: phone number of people, time and date of calls and SMS, duration of calls, the location of the nearest cell tower and for internet activity: the time, date, size, sender, and recipients of emails, time and duration of web connections, IP address and so on.

In the library environment, metadata is commonly used for any formal scheme of resource description. Traditional library cataloguing is a form of metadata; MARC 21 and the rule sets used with it, such as AACR2, are metadata standards. It is a term that has primarily been used by library and archives communities to describe standards used to aid the discovery of objects. Metadata standards are composed of metadata elements, sometimes called metadata fields. Metadata standards are created to facilitate searching similar items by using similar terms and constructs to describe them. A metadata record consists of all the metadata elements describing an object. Metadata records are often expressed in XML or other machine-readable formats for easy integration within systems. (NISO, 2004).

Types of metadata

There are mainly three types of metadata

  1. Descriptive metadata which contains intellectual contents of data
  2. Structural metadata organizes parts and relationship of data (like table of contents of a book which shows different chapters and sections of books) and
  3. Administrative metadata provides information for managing the resources. There are two different subsets of administrative metadata like, a) management metadata and  b) preservation metadata.

Metadata and Privacy

Metadata is generated through every way we communicate in the 21st century. Like two people are communicating with each other through a device and we don’t have anything, for instance, about what they are saying but still we can know lots of information, such as the location of these two people, duration of talking, the date when the device is used through metadata. It includes the same information every time we are communicating with, whom, where and how long. Web browsing continuously generating metadata and sometimes we provide information on social media through the declaration by us. So, this is the intelligence of metadata.  All our information like which devices we are using, where we log in from, who we are looking at and what is we searching for are collected by several companies. The creation and disclosure of metadata   even continue even when we sleep because our devices are continuously communicating with cell towers and other networks what we are doing and not doing. We don’t have to do anything to produce metadata which is a bit of nut but when it put together it becomes valuable. Like advertising companies continuously collect personal data for understanding people’s need and market their product and services. It is highly valuable for advertising purposes because by generating this vast profiles of individual private life and interaction, they will compete to target us with marketing and advertising. For this reason, a competitive environment is created among different companies and we are getting standard product or services to meet our basic needs and purposes.  But the concerning issue is that it is not just industry that is so hungry for metadata. Metadata also collected by the government and also by the law enforcement agencies, like where we have been, what newspaper we reading daily, who is our friends. President Obama; he referred to metadata during a press conference (Wall Street Journal):

 “What the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls. They are not looking at people’s names, and they’re not looking at content. But by sifting through this so-called metadata, they may identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism.”

Sometimes Metadata reveals the relationships. Access request for this information are often very broad. Metadata collects and stores every content about our past. Metadata associated with our emails, our facebook, our web browser, our mobile phones and so on. It is quite easy to collect or gather everything we did in the past. So, what happen if anyone does a crime and you got arrested for this? It could have happened anytime easily. Because law enforcement agency can find out that you have a relationship with a person who you did a contact and he also did so. Because they collect the content not the details of your conversation. So we are also suspected of crime committed by others.

Let’s think about digital images. Whenever we take a picture with our digital camera, a lot of personal information (called metadata) is stored in every photo we have taken.  The digital photos that we took with our smartphone or point-and-shoot camera contain numerous metadata fields that describe various aspects of the photo’s environment, including, but not limited to, the following attributes:

  • Camera makers, model, and serial number
  • Date and time that the picture was taken
  • Shutter speed
  • ISO setting
  • Aperture
  • Focal length
  • Creator information
  • Photographer-defined fields

All this metadata can also be used by others to track and profile us when we are sharing our images online on social networks, websites, blogs or send them by email. Is this safe to give our personal information available to anyone? What can happen if we post the privacy, picture, place, location information, etc. of our children in day to day life on the social media website? Nowadays smartphone is available to school going children. Even they are also uploading their status, photos, location in social media from anywhere. So, it is quite easy to locate them by the criminals. And all these things are happening only for metadata.  It is really a big concerning issue at present days. We need to think about it!!!

 What does metadata do for us??

Although metadata is a big concerning issue in present days because of privacy control but we can’t think a single day in this digital age without it. Metadata serves the same functions in resource discovery as good cataloguing does by allowing resources to be found by relevant criteria; identifying resources; bringing similar resources together; distinguishing dissimilar resources; and giving location information. Metadata can help organize electronic resources. As the number of Web-based resources grows exponentially, aggregate sites or portals are increasingly useful in organizing links to resources based on audience or topic. The followings are the important functions of metadata which is mentioned in NISO (2004)

It facilitates interoperability. Interoperability is the ability of multiple systems with different hardware and software platforms, data structures, and interfaces to exchange data with minimal loss of content and functionality. Describing a resource with metadata allows it to be understood by both humans and machines in ways that promote interoperability.

It works as a digital identification. Most metadata schemes include elements such as standard numbers to uniquely identify the work or object to which the metadata refers. The location of a digital object may also be given using a file name, URL (Uniform Resource Locator), or some more persistent identifier such as a PURL (Persistent URL) or DOI (Digital Object Identifier).

Meta helps in archiving and preservation. There is a growing concern that digital resources will not survive in usable form into the future. Digital information is fragile; it can be corrupted or altered, intentionally or unintentionally. It may become unusable as storage media and hardware and software technologies change. Metadata is key to ensuring that resources will survive and continue to be accessible into the future.

Finally, there is no doubt that metadata has a lot of positive aspects. But all the information of individuals is becoming available to anyone which is beyond the control. Since this metadata is a new factor in the present world, even the law enforcement agency cannot secure the safety of the citizen from leaking private information to the third party. This leads serious threats for the society. Even though there are several negative aspects mentioned earlier but we can’t think of a single moment without creating metadata.

So let’s enjoy the song of ‘Bill Shipper’ (the singing analyst) on Metadata……

 

References

Data Documentation and Metadata | UO Libraries. [ONLINE] Available at: https://library.uoregon.edu/datamanagement/metadata.html. [Accessed 08 November 2016].

Is metadata collected by the government a threat to your privacy? – TechRepublic. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/it-security/is-metadata-collected-by-the-government-a-threat-to-your-privacy/. [Accessed 20 October 2016].

Metadata-Wikipedia.[ONLINE] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metadata. [Accessed 18 October 2016

NISO (2004) Understanding metadata, NISO press, ISBN 1-880124-62-9 Available at: http://www.niso.org/publications/press/UnderstandingMetadata.pdf

Practical Ecommerce. 2015. SEO: Why Is Metadata Important?. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.villanovau.com/resources/bi/metadata-importance-in-data-driven-world/#.WCJOGOOLTIU. [Accessed 8 November 2016].

Privacy    International-YouTube.[ONLINE]     Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP_e56DsymA. [Accessed 08 November 2016].

 

 

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Web 2.0 : Different opinions and its implication in library

best-web-2-0-sites-with-high-pr-for-seo-link-building

Technological development offers new opportunities and challenges in creation, promotion, dissemination and storage of information for library and information center. A typical technology is Web 2.0 which has significant impact in modern libraries. Many Web 2.0 technologies such as Wikis, RSS, blogs, social networking tools (Facebook, Twitter, You Tube etc.), Vodcast, Podcast, Instant messaging and other social software are incorporated in academic library website to assist communication and secure information sharing.

The concept of web 2.0 was introduced for the first time by Darcy DiNucci back in 1999 where author said that, “the Web we know now, which loads into a browser window in essentially static screenfuls, is only an embryo of the Web to come. The first glimmerings of Web 2.0 are beginning to appear, and we are just starting to see how that embryo might develop. The Web will be understood not as screenfuls of text and graphics but as a transport mechanism, the ether through which interactivity happens.”

Later in 2004 the idea got popularity through O’Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference hosted by Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty. It was apparent from their discussion that the web 2.0 is not a new technology itself but it indicates the way of usage the modern technologies in various form in different types of devices and making contribution to the web contents by lay users.

The definition and application of Web 2.0 is subject to argument. According to Tim O’Reilly (2005), “Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them”. He finds that Web 2.0 is the web as platform and that platform is used as the basement of Web 2.0 applications. It can be said that the web of previous generation or Web 1.0 incorporates the Web 2.0 applications in order to provide more effective and developed environment of communication.

MacAskill and Owen (2006) identifies Web 2.0 as the second wave of the online based library which includes various web tools and services like wikis, RSS, weblog, tagging, Ajax, blogs, social networking tools (Facebook, Twitter, You Tube etc.), Vodcast, Podcast, Instant messaging and other social software etc. These services make various types of online exchanging like sharing music, bookmarking to documents and photographs available through the post, generate, describe, search, harvest, annotate and exchange facilities of all the Web 2.0 applications.

Web 1.0 Vs. Web 2.0

web20-dataIn web 1.0, users could only gather information from the web which were basically designed by the website owners whereas in Web 2.0 the users can actively interact with each other through creating content in the website by themselves. An example of Web 1.0 feature is the personal website where the owner of the website presents relevant information in respective website for users to access to those information but in Web 2.0 the concept of personal websites has been replaced by Blog where everyone can comment and share the contents of the blog through active participation.

Different views of Web 2.0

Web 2.0 technologies have connected more people for sharing ideas and experiences which also ease the process of providing services to them. These latest phenomena allow the users to get the facilities through various mobile devices very quickly from distant places. Due to these latest inventions the online contents are being enriched in larger volume dramatically. Usage of the Web 2.0 is very user friendly and no expertise is required for using these facilities or taking parts into it. It can easily be considered as the revolution for the human kind in modern times.

There are some negative views about the very existence of the Web 2.0 and the critiques mention this phenomenon as a marketing Buzz word. Like many others the inventor of the world wide web Sir Tim Berners-Lee (2006) points this out as a piece of “jargon”. He said that the Web 2.0 does not add any new dimension to the usage of internet because the initial purpose of internet was to connect the people. He further said that the future of the internet usage is beyond our imagination and not limited to any current usage of it. Therefore, the new usage of internet should not be considered as Web 2.0 in any event. Some of the claimed Web 2.0 features were pre-existed long before introduction of the Web 2.0 for instance the Amazon had incorporated the facilities of commenting for its customers since the beginning back in 1995.

Implication of Web 2.0 to the modern library

rijun12web2-0_0Modern libraries are massively benefited by the new features of Web 2.0. In the past libraries were supposed to provide place based library services and users of the library usually visited the library to consult the catalog and use the physical collection of the books, journals, CDs, etc. But in the present days this situation has been completely changed through the use of academic library website. These dynamic and interactive websites support user involvement and force their way into changing the early static library websites. Liu (2008) says, academic library websites are the virtual presentation of the library to the world. Moreover, the Web 2.0 features have brought the facilities to share, communicate, update, renewal, borrow, contribute contents, distant access of the library product in more convenient way. Web 2.0 features are truly blessings for modern libraries.

It is apparent that the web 2.0 is the subject of massive debate because of the diverse nature of the world wide web, its previously set objectives and huge foreseeable potential in the future. Even though the controversy is there in terms of the true existence and application of the Web 2.0 but the respective features carry huge potential for the users of these applications.

References

IBM developerWorks (2006) DeveloperWorks Interviews: Tim Berners-Lee. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/podcast/dwi/cm-int082206txt.html. [Accessed 09 October 2016].

Liu, S. (2008). Engaging users: the future of academic library web sites. College & Research Libraries, Vol. 69 No. 1, pp. 6-27.

Macaskill, W. and Owen, D. (2006). Web 2.0 to go.  Proceedings LIANZA Conference 2006,Wellington.

O’Reilly, T. (2005). What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of softwar. [ONLINE] Aailable at: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html [Accessed on 7 October 2016].

Web 2.0. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.wb2.com/. [Accessed 09 October 2016].

 

 

 

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