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Physicist as librarian; Henri Poincaré’s intriguing metaphor

Among the new additions to Oxford University Press's admirable series of Very Short Introductions is a revised edition of J.L. Heilbron's VSI to the History of Physics. An interesting read in general, it raises one intriguing idea in particular; the metaphor of physicist as librarian. Libraries and documents feature throughout the book. Heilbron notes that… Continue reading Physicist as librarian; Henri Poincaré’s intriguing metaphor

Information education for onlife

I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the lovely city of Pisa earlier this month, to give a keynote talk at FEIS 2018, an international symposium on the future of education in information science. The symposium was part of the EINFOSE Erasmus+ project, which is examining the variation in entry requirements and learning… Continue reading Information education for onlife

Supporting truth and promoting understanding: knowledge organization and the curation of the infosphere

This is an updated text of a keynote address given at the Fifteenth International ISKO Conference, Porto, 9th July 2018. A brief account of the conference is given in an earlier blog post. Supporting truth and promoting understanding: knowledge organization and the curation of the infosphere David Bawden and Lyn Robinson Abstract This paper considers… Continue reading Supporting truth and promoting understanding: knowledge organization and the curation of the infosphere

Can information be conserved, and why would it matter?

The idea that information may be conserved may strike many of us interested in recorded human information information as faintly ridiculous. By 'conserved', we mean that there is a fixed amount of information in the universe, and that, while it may be changed, it can neither be created nor destroyed. This does not seem to… Continue reading Can information be conserved, and why would it matter?

Information generations; the end of the Millennials?

The idea of a 'generation' is a widely understood one, and we often take it for granted that people of a certain age will have similar experiences, expectations, and values. Terms like 'Baby Boomers', 'Gen X', and 'Millennials' are in common use, and it seems to be generally accepted that they have some value as… Continue reading Information generations; the end of the Millennials?

In praise of speculative (or even science) fiction

I have always liked science fiction. This is not something that serious people usually want to admit to, though the perception that the genre is fit only for nerdy adolescents has diminished over recent years. There has been a growing, if somewhat reluctant, acceptance that the more thoughtful end of science fiction can be valuable… Continue reading In praise of speculative (or even science) fiction

Chemistry and its (information) history

It has often been said that chemistry was, and to an extent may still be, the most information-intensive of the sciences; see, for example, the article by Lyn Robinson and myself on chemical information literacy. This status is now challenged by molecular biology, with its 'Central Dogma' stating that information flows from DNA to RNA… Continue reading Chemistry and its (information) history

“The summary of the universe”: thoughts on Venice in the words of Peter Ackroyd

I visited Venice for the first time recently, and wanted to set down some impressions: partly on the nature of the city itself, partly on its history of collections, archives, printing, and recording knowledge. However, I found that these ideas were expressed more evocatively than I could ever manage by Peter Ackroyd in his 'Venice:… Continue reading “The summary of the universe”: thoughts on Venice in the words of Peter Ackroyd