Richard P. Smiraglia

Professor § Information Organization Research Group (IOrg) § School of Information Studies § University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee §  email to:

This site was updated August 4, 2014.


(The photo on the right was taken in a classroom at the School of Library Service on the 6th floor of Butler Library at Columbia University. I think it must have been about 1988 or so. Notice the actual school bell on the wall behind me.)




Cultural Synergy is an idea I arrived at during my time working at Amsterdam's eHumanities Group and its predecessor, The Virtual Knowledge Studio. The idea is that information is a catalyst for a kind of synergy in which cultures can add up to more than their individual parts collectively. We've always thought of information institutions as big buildings with stuff in them, but it's time to realize that cultural synergy has brought us information institutions of new kinds, ranging from Facebook to WebDewey. My book about all of this has been published. More information is available here:



colliderThe IDEA COLLIDER is part of an ongoing attempt to accumulate components of a theory of knowledge, which we see as underlying information science. We plan to develop an information retrieval tool, an application based on the generated theory. Our approach is the harmonization of observations about the nature and behavior of knowledge, with reference to empirical research results. The IDEA COLLIDER will be an information retrieval tool that deconstructs texts in order to reconstitute grouped data. Our notion uses the metaphor of the CERN particle collider, metaphorically to spin ideas until their particles (concepts) separate and recombine in useful ways. The collider would work by deconstructing texts; therefore, the theory describes in detail the ways in which texts are constructed and evolve culturally over time. We have to date completed one paper, Charles van den Heuvel and Richard P. Smiraglia, “Concepts as particles: metaphors for the universe of knowledge,” which was delivered at the 11th International Conference of the International Society for Knowledge Organization (ISKO), Rome, Feb. 25, 2010 (proceedings pages 50-56) pdf preprint here. dscn0813

Members of the research group who took part in a recent planning meeting (Nov. 9-10, 2010) funded by a generous SOIS LAGO grant, are:

Richard Smiraglia, SOIS, UWM; Charles van den Heuvel, KNAW Virtual Knowledge Studio, Amsterdam; Feifan Liu, Health Care Informatics, UWM; Margaret Kipp, SOIS, UWM; Victoria Rubin, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, Univ. Western Ontario; Thomas Dousa, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Ann Graf, SOIS, UWM; Edward Benoit, SOIS, UWM; Kate Keener, SOIS, UWM. Stay tuned for updates.

My "Lazy KO Blog," which has most of the content concerning my research, and also much more, is available here:

Looking for Describing Music Materials? Click on the title.

My c.v. (current 2 January 2014) in pdf is here.

Students interested in my course "Comparative Bibliography" click here.


Knowledge Organization


I am Editor-in-Chief of the journal Knowledge Organization, the quarterly journal of the International Society for Knowledge Organization. KO, which is published by Ergon Verlag, is devoted to concept theory, classification, indexing, and knowledge representation. Check here for more information about the journal or here for instructions for submitting a manuscript.