Re: proposal for subjects in subject tree

Reinhard Doelz <> Mon, 30 November 1992 10:21 UTC

Received: from by IETF.CNRI.Reston.VA.US id aa08027; 30 Nov 92 5:21 EST
Received: from CNRI.RESTON.VA.US by IETF.CNRI.Reston.VA.US id aa08023; 30 Nov 92 5:21 EST
Received: from kona.CC.McGill.CA by CNRI.Reston.VA.US id aa29871; 30 Nov 92 5:22 EST
Received: by (5.65a/IDA-1.4.2b/CC-Guru-2b) id AA22759 on Mon, 30 Nov 92 02:15:28 -0500
Received: from by with SMTP (5.65a/IDA-1.4.2b/CC-Guru-2b) id AA22755 (mail destined for /usr/lib/sendmail -odq -oi -fiafa-request iafa-out) on Mon, 30 Nov 92 02:15:22 -0500
X400-Received: by mta in /PRMD=switch/ADMD=arcom/C=CH/; Relayed; Mon, 30 Nov 1992 08:14:34 +0100
X400-Received: by /PRMD=SWITCH/ADMD=ARCOM/C=CH/; Relayed; Mon, 30 Nov 1992 08:12:15 +0100
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1992 08:12:15 +0100
X400-Recipients: non-disclosure:;
X400-Mts-Identifier: [/PRMD=SWITCH/ADMD=ARCOM/C=CH/;921130081215]
X400-Content-Type: P2-1984 (2)
Content-Identifier: 285
Conversion: Prohibited
Sender: ietf-archive-request@IETF.CNRI.Reston.VA.US
From: Reinhard Doelz <>
Message-Id: <285*/S=doelz/OU=urz/O=unibas/PRMD=SWITCH/ADMD=ARCOM/C=CH/@MHS>
To: "(Tony Barry)" <>
Cc: Anders Gillner <>, eurogopher <>, gvl <>, iafa <>, jkrey <>, Ton Verschuren <>
Subject: Re: proposal for subjects in subject tree


If you don't know my name, I try to maintain a biology subject tree in 
Europe. I am carefully following the discussion on the list. Looking at the 
CC: list of your mail, I am convinced that there's a bigger audience 
in this mail than on the usual postings. Let me share my view on your 
proposal for classification of subject trees. 

You write 
> It is not cheap in staff time to determine a classification code in a large
> collection. We will be talking large collections. The Veronica service has
> already turned up 1.1 million items in gopher space.

I wouldn't call VERONICA to be a classified service. Yet, be careful with 
the ambition that librarians do it all, and the customers need to follow. 
The current fact is that the 'real' subject heavy gophers are maintained 
by scientists, volunteers, to make a service available to their people.
These scientists' expectations differ from what the librarians use to 

>The classification scheme needs to be one which is supported, trained staff
>are available to do the classification and clients know it. I think this
>favours the Library of Congress Classification, Dewey or UDC. As this
>campus uses Library of Congress that is the way we have decided to go for
>our gopher organisation. This can be seen at -
>Name=The Electronic Library

Despite the fact that the path is already wrong again (this only at 
November 30th, directly after having received your mail) I got there 
and searched biology. No biology there. Tried 'science'. Found 

 -->  1.  Q223  BIOFTP EMBnet Switzerland/
      2.  QA  Mathematics and computing/
      3.  QC  The Physics Information network PINET <TEL>
      4.  QC793  CERN World Wide Web Service <TEL>
      5.  QH  Natural History (General)/

>All classifications have faults particularly with new material like
>computer science. With gopher you can get round these faults by -

Well it seems to me that there is a huge misconception going on. 
The librarians might know what Q223 means, I certainly don't. Neither 
would I expect my customers to know this. If schemas get more complex, 
I also would find 'Q' for Science to be rather broad, whereas the 
apparent 223 subclassification lacks a certain intuitonal aspect. The 
example in my view quite desperately shows that librarians talk a 
different tongue. Additionally, there's always the sense between the 
lines that we should avoid to have the librarians splitted from the 
information providers. If all negotiations end in the adoption of the 
librarian's view, I feel this to be insatisfactory. In Gopherspace we 
currently have more than 20 biology-oriented gophers, including 
more than 10000 items. To view the complexity, try 

Name=Biology subject tree in Gopher

There will be a menu showing 
      3.  Information Servers in biology (Gopher based)/

and there you'll find currently 24 gophers that I know of worldwide being 
engaged in Biology. If you can classify this, fine. However, have a look at 
the top menu option
      2.  Gophers in Biology: Tree listing /
and look at the diversity of the trees of these gophers. Some are of plain 
informal character, some are WAISed, some are sophisticated file servers. 
Let your librarians have a look at it. It would be interesting to note 
what they would do. 

Also, be realistic on which information to classify. Because of the 
difficulty to maintain links (see your own gopher), it is out of scope 
to have subitems classified at the oarticular gophers at a central place. 
This ultimately results in the need to classify a GOPHER entry point, and 
not the tree behind it. You certainly can put individual links into the 
schema, but once the local giys cjhange their offerings, you're done. 
I am afraid that we cannot meet this challenge staff-wise. If you are, then, 
limited to registering (and classifying) gopher by entry point, we need 
to average a gopher's content wrt classification. There's where I start 
to see problems coming up.

I'd like to know whether a more obvious classification scheme is around 
in librarian's world than Q223 ... 


|    Dr. Reinhard Doelz            | RFC         |
|      Biocomputing                | DECNET  20579::48130::doelz         |
|Biozentrum der Universitaet       | X25     022846211142036::doelz      |
|   Klingelbergstrasse 70          | FAX     x41 61 261- 6760 or 267- 2078     
|     CH 4056 Basel                | TEL     x41 61 267- 2076 or 2247    |   
+------------- is the SWISS EMBnet node ----------------+