Friday, April 10, 2015

Answer (part 1): Can you find the reference for...

Jewal [sic] Mazique cataloging in the Library of Congress. 1942 Winter. 
Prints and Photographs Division.  LC-USW3-000381-C 

As I mentioned... 

these are sometimes quite difficult Challenges to answer.  Luckily, the second one was pretty straightforward, while the first was (and remains) quite hard.  

Here are the Challenges for this week: 

1.  Can you find the reference for.... A paper I once read that claimed "the probability of a reader reading a book in the library was a function of the distance of that book from the library catalog."   
As you can tell, this research was done a while ago (back when library science papers were measuring book access in terms of card catalog distances).  I haven't had any luck finding the original paper that made this claim.  Can you?  What's the citation?  
2.  Can you find the reference for....  A paper I read, I believe it was by Alan Newell, about the "three time bands of human cognition."  The idea in that paper was that Newell claimed that there are 3 different time scales at which cognition can be studied.  One was millisecond-by-millisecond, another was minute-by-minute, and the other was day-by-day.  Can you find this reference? 

Answering the second Challenge was relatively straightforward.  Here, the big helping clue is the author's name, Alan Newell.  He left a broad and easily discoverable body of work during his years at CMU.  A relatively straightforward search such as: 

     [ Alan Newell different time scales cognition ]  

brings up a SERP with lots of hits, including the diagram shown below from page 122 of his book Unified Theories of Cognition (1994). 

Fig 3-3, pg 122 of the Newell book. This is the diagram I was seeking.  

Note here that my memory of the reference was that it was "three time scales," whereas the actual reference has four distinct bands of behavior.  The "millisecond by millisecond" is the "biological band," while the "day by day" is up at the "social band."  This is great--exactly what I was looking for.  

Search lesson:  When crafting a query, don't overlimit your query by including details that might be wrong.  My query was just for [ ... different time scales cognition ] (I assumed that the name was correct--but if I didn't have any good hits here, I would have started searching for variations on the name as well).  I did NOT do [ ... 3 different time scale cognition ] because I didn't know if that "3" would overlimit the results.  

Now, about Challenge number 1:  If you read the comments, we've been making good progress on the search problem.  We don't have exactly the right solution yet, but we're getting better.  

What does "better" or "progress" mean in this context?  

It means that we've started to explore the vocabulary of the problem, and we now have a few hits that are nearly there.  These are really valuable because you can grow outwards from the "near hit," and use the names of journals or fields of interest to help limit the discovery process.  

Regular Reader Rosemary has shared a doc with us that tells the story of her search so far.  She correctly points out that we're looking for the "magic combination of keywords" that will get us to the target.  

This is a genuinely hard problem (and I don't yet have the answer myself), so I'm going to leave this Challenge open over the weekend.  I'll summarize what we've got on Monday.

We're not quite there yet... So Search On! 

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