Glad to communicate with you. My full name is Claudio Tommaso Gnoli, pronounced /'klawdjo to'mma:zo 'ɲɔ:li/, and this is my personal web space. I work as a librarian, research in knowledge organization, teach courses, and am active in some professional journals and associations. I live in North-Western Italy.
(Se ch'l'é, ingléz?!)
Contacts: You are welcome to write for any reason to
claudio.gnoli¤unipv.it [replacing ¤ with at]. I can speak English, French, or Italian, and read some Spanish. I prefer universal e-mail and public Web so don't subscribe to closed social networks, while I like the essentiality of Twitter:
I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well. [HD Thoreau, Walden]
(Links point to subsets of my publications, also listed by Google Scholar and PhilPapers; I'm identified in
WorldCat, and with
My main interest is knowledge organization (KO), as it has been developing especially in library and documentation services, but can also be applied to any other knowledge source. I have written introductory papers or chapters on KO in general, and the different types of KO systems and structures, both in English and in Italian; many are available online, occasionally in audio or video form.
My favourite KO systems are faceted classifications, as conceived by SR Ranganathan and developed by the Classification Research Group (CRG): they are rich and powerful tools, though not so largely exploited yet (what computer people call "facets" tend to be only partial implementations). My involvement in updating the venerable Universal Decimal Classification goes in this faceting direction.
The possibility of a general, freely-faceted classification based on the theory of integrative levels was also explored by CRG members, especially DJ Foskett and Derek Austin. This is where I mostly try to produce my main original contributions, at several interconnected layers:
- examining ontological views, especially emergentist evolutionism, the theory of levels of reality and the general systems theory, as philosophical foundations for KO, in both existing and new systems;
- exploring how both common origin (phylogeny) and similarity (morphology) can be modeled in KO systems to represent relationships between phenomena;
- emphasizing the potential of a classification by phenomena, as opposed to disciplines, for KO and interdisciplinary research, as expressed in the León Manifesto [LM];
- developing and testing a classification flavour called freely faceted, allowing to combine any concept with any other one independently from disciplinary context. To this purpose I work together with other people in the ILC project [ILC].
Libraries and their online catalogues (OPACs) are one traditional, important service where KO should be applied, though not the only one: a great place for this is the Internet itself, especially in the new perspective of linked data and the semantic Web.
I am also interested in other (probably too many) fields, such as artificial languages and semiotics, local culture, wildlife, ...
I have a mixed humanist-scientific background, as I attended a classical high school, then took a degree in Natural Sciences in 1994. My main interests in the latter field have been evolutionary theory and animal behaviour, and the degree thesis concerned communication among Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra). In the subsequent years I kept working together with researchers in zoology at the University of Pavia and the Natural History Museum of Milan: we studied the local distribution and behavioural ecology of squirrels, wolves, and badgers. Together with some friends I founded "Vertebrati", an Italian e-mail discussion group devoted to wildlife biology, which has been positively active since 1999.
A student was called on to take the chair at a dinner in connection with the Royal School of Mines. [... Professor Thomas Huxley asked:] "Which of the lines of science you have followed has chiefly engaged your interest?" Following the thread of my reply, he drew from me the confession that an interest in philosophy, and in the general scheme of things, lay deeper than my interest in the practical applications of science to what then purported to my bread-and-butter training. [Conwy Lloyd Morgan, Emergent evolution]
Having shifted to libraries, I have learned a lot from the editorial staff of the early AIB website, especially its coordinators Eugenio Gatto and Riccardo Ridi. Later, ISKO people have been encouraging to get in contact with the international knowledge organization community, Roberto Poli has introduced me into philosophical ontology, and Alberto Cheti has shared deep principles of subject indexing. In turn, I think I have contributed to the involvement in LIS and KO activities of such skilled people as Caterina Barazia, Emanuela Casson, Enzo Cesanelli, Rodrigo De Santis, Giovanna Frigimelica, Hong Mei, and Irene Scaturro.
I started working as a librarian in May 1994 at the municipal library of Mariano Comense. Shortly after, I earned a position at the University of Milan, and spent six years at the front desk of the agriculture faculty library. In December 2000 I moved to the University of Pavia mathematics library (now part of the Science and Technology Library), where I am currently working.
I have done tens of short courses for librarians, master students etc., concerning strategies in searching information in the Internet, online public access catalogues, library websites, subject indexing and its application to the digital environment. At present my courses mostly concern:
- knowledge organization from Dewey to the Semantic Web
- facet analysis
- subject indexing in online catalogues and directories
I serve as a peer reviewer for various conferences (ISKO, UDCC, NKOS, COLIS, ICKM, FSR, Italian IA Summit) as well as the following journals:
Also, occasionally for Information, Journal of documentation, Journal of knowledge management, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Scire: representación y organización del conocimiento, and in the past for AIB-Web. Contributi (editor-in-chief, 2000-2008).
Books have always been around me since I was a child, and I soon realized that a basic question was which ones to read... When I was 7 years old, my grand-father Giulio Gnoli wrote that I had "a need for order, organization, almost cataloguing, of documentation", so that I was often "writing, making lists, establishing a precise sequence between persons and between facts, pretending to own large books where news and details could be searched for"... Nickname Scritur, "Writer" in the dialect of Oltrepò, has been given me by my friend Franco Mela with the sense of the one who takes notes on trivial things (actually of ethnographic interest) he is told about. It is a weird fate that my great-great-grandfather, my great-grandfather, my great-aunt, and my mother have also been librarians. I am pleased that my work contributes to the diffusion and use of knowledge, a cause without owners nor flag.
Though having been born in a frantic anonymous city, I feel much more bound to my mother's region, at the boundary between Pavia plain and the valleys of the Northern Apennine. The latter, also known as the Quattro Province, despite depopulation keep a remarkable heritage of traditions, including high-level folk music. I often find rural communities to be much more civilized and deep than urban ones. Maybe I am able to understand both thanks to my half-cast background (mez e mez, "grey area", as they say in our village).
I collect some quotes, as well as images of me and individual people and places important to me. Classes of things I like include (sorted by integrative levels) silence, rivers, forests, wolverines, cats, hiking, dining with good company, smoking pipe, independence, peaceful attitude, friendship, open-mindedness, red-haired women, deep-spirit women, phonology of languages and dialects, logical languages, pluralism, welfare state, degrowth, the Internet, reading, watching auto racing, folk music and dances, art films, epistemological realism, humanism. I belong to the party of those who go out to vote, and the religion of those who do not want to destroy other religions.
I am a volunteer blood donor at AVIS, and encourage you to do the same as there is a big need for it!
«...Di' Scritur, ma t'é muntà ra testa, che ta scriv in ingléz o cul ch'l'é?!»
«Ma no, l'é che ra gent ch'a gh'piaz i stesi rob che mi j en mìa tanti, e si ta spet da truvai dma in Itàllia, ta pö spetà un bel toch...»
«Va be', e alura j amiz da chì?»
«Par parlà con cuei lì a s' fa prima a veghse, o no?...»