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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

Tweet, tweet … analysing a library conference backchannel with Hawksey’s TAGS

Twitter has gained a reputation as a social media tool which is very popular within the LIS community, and most libraries and archives, LIS schools, and library/information conferences, and well as many individuals in the discipline and profession, make serious use of it for information exchange. Being able to easily get an analysis of the… Continue reading Tweet, tweet … analysing a library conference backchannel with Hawksey’s TAGS

Still awaiting the quantum turn

Two years ago a paper by myself and my colleagues Lyn Robinson and Tyabba Siddiqui was published in JASIST, introducing and explaining the idea of an emerging 'quantum information science'. We argued that this could be seen in five respects: use of loose analogies and metaphors between concepts in quantum physics and library/information science; use… Continue reading Still awaiting the quantum turn

Library and information science in an age of messages: Rafael Capurro’s comments

In a previous post, I gave a slightly modified version of a chapter written by Lyn Robinson and myself for a Festschrift in honour of Rafael Capurro. Capurro subsequently wrote an insightful and generous commentary on all of the book's chapters. Below, I reproduce a shortened version of his perceptive comments on our chapter: Thanks… Continue reading Library and information science in an age of messages: Rafael Capurro’s comments

Unveiling of nature or social creativity: classification and discovery in astronomy

It has always interested me to see how the development of ideas of classification and categorisation in the information sciences has been intertwined with analogous developments in the natural sciences. This is most obviously the case for botany, where Linnaeus's stipulation that "classification and name-giving will be the foundation of our science" could equally well… Continue reading Unveiling of nature or social creativity: classification and discovery in astronomy

Two encyclopaedias: both alike in dignity?

A recent article, originally appearing on an Australian radio website and widely republished, celebrated the 16th anniversary of Wikipedia, suggested that traditional encyclopaedias were now worthless, as Wikipedia completed the process of organising knowledge begun by the Romans. Well, up to a point. Wikipedia, however widely used it may be, is not the only online… Continue reading Two encyclopaedias: both alike in dignity?

Gutta percha: forgotten material of the communication revolution

Few other materials have had such a revolutionary impact on the world. And few others have been forgotten so quickly. (Ben Wilson, Heyday: Britain and the birth of the modern world, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 2016, p. xxiii) Describing gutta percha as "the vanished material that made the telecommunication revolution possible", Ben Wilson gives it… Continue reading Gutta percha: forgotten material of the communication revolution