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

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

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?

When data science met the library: the 4th British Library Labs Symposium

Last Monday, I had the chance to attend the latest in the series of BL Labs annual symposia. The BL Labs were set up to "support and inspire the public use of the British Library's digital collections and data in exciting and innovative ways", and the symposia series is designed to showcase some of the… Continue reading When data science met the library: the 4th British Library Labs Symposium

Super-science, fundamental dimension, way of being: Library and information science in an age of messages

This is a slightly modified version of a chapter by Lyn Robinson and myself, published in Information cultures in the digital age: a festschrift in honor of Rafael Capurro. M Kelly and J Bielby (eds). Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 2016, pp 31-43. Introduction Rafael Capurro’s body of writings encompass a wide and diverse set of issues… Continue reading Super-science, fundamental dimension, way of being: Library and information science in an age of messages

Michael Dirda’s Browsings

"Books don't just furnish a room. A personal library is a reflection of who you are and who you want to be, of what you value and what you desire, of how much you know and how much more you'd like to know. ... Digital texts are all well and good, but books on shelves… Continue reading Michael Dirda’s Browsings

Into the infosphere: theory, literacy and education for new forms of document

This is a slightly revised version of a chapter contributed by myself and Lyn Robinson to a Festschrift in honour of our colleague Professor Tatjana Aparac-Jelušić, of the University of Zadar in Croatia. We came to know Tatjana particularly through the LIDA conferences, of which she has been the inspiration and main organiser, through her… Continue reading Into the infosphere: theory, literacy and education for new forms of document