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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

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

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

Why LIS doesn’t have a quick fix for the post-factual society … and why that’s OK

The irony is that by now it was supposed to be perfect. For most of my working life in the library/information area, first as a practitioner and then as an academic, the emphasis was on providing access to information. Most of the time, whatever the topic, there was never enough information, and accessing what there… Continue reading Why LIS doesn’t have a quick fix for the post-factual society … and why that’s OK

Invented and discovered: mathematics in Popper’s World 3

I have always had an interest in mathematics. This is despite, or perhaps because of, never being very good at the subject at school, and avoiding it to the maximum extent compatible with getting a science degree at university. Not that I have any fondness for what is called 'recreational mathematics', which has always seemed… Continue reading Invented and discovered: mathematics in Popper’s World 3