The future of the library; musing on

Musing, sometimes optimistically, more often pessimistically, about the future of libraries seems to have appeal for many thinkers in and about the profession. Charles Ammi Cutter arguably started it with his late nineteenth-century vision, in some respects remarkably prescient, of a public library one hundred years ahead. From time to time, such musings take a… Continue reading The future of the library; musing on

Senate House Library and the context of documents

“Research is concerned with discovery”, Christopher Pressler tells us in his introduction to Scala Publishing’s splendid new book on the University of London’s Senate House Library, “Libraries are the essential mode of travel.” The centrality of collections of documents in an organized space is the intellectual theme to what might (wrongly) be dismissed as a… Continue reading Senate House Library and the context of documents

Physical plus digital, but more physical than you might think

Until quite recently, the world of recorded information was physical: print-on-paper, plus the paper card ‘machinery’ well described by Marcus Krajewski’s book Paper Machines. Mechanised documentation – punched cards, edge-notched cards, and the like – added some automation, but were still very much physical objects. Then the information world became a bit digital, with computer… Continue reading Physical plus digital, but more physical than you might think

Knowledge, documents and a London location

As documents, and the whole information and communication environment, become increasingly digital, it is natural to assume that physical location becomes of less importance. Two newly published books remind us that this idea should be examined with a critical eye. Rosemary Ashton’s Victorian Bloomsbury, a splendidly scholarly and well-produced intellectual and cultural history of that… Continue reading Knowledge, documents and a London location

The city, the world, what cannot be measured, and the information environment

An interesting critique under the title 'The city, the world and what cannot be measured', written by Adam Frank in a blog post for the US National Public Radio Service in the last days of the old year (Frank 2011), discusses a speech given in 2010 by the Václav Havel, the former Czech president who… Continue reading The city, the world, what cannot be measured, and the information environment

Very Short Information

Oxford University Press's Very Short Introductions series will be familiar to anyone who is old-fashioned enough to still visit serious bookshops. Small enough to fit into an average pocket at 18 by 10 cms, and around 160 pages, and attractively printed and produced, they have proved very popular. It helps, of course, that they are… Continue reading Very Short Information

The mapping of science and the information sciences

It is just over fifty years since Derek de Solla Price produced his best known work: Little Science, Big Science. It was on the required reading list for my information science masters course, and – I suspect like many other students of the subject at that time – I wondered what it was doing there.… Continue reading The mapping of science and the information sciences

The document in the cave?

When I talk with my students about the history of recorded information, we usually agree that the rock and cave art of prehistoric times is a good starting point. The people who created such art clearly had a technology for conveying a form of communication across long periods of time, if not across space. As… Continue reading The document in the cave?

iPads, blogs and the information future

O'Reilly has been known as a publisher of books on information technology for over thirty years: as their website puts it "a chronicler and catalyst of leading-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and galvanizing their adoption by amplifying the faint signals from the alpha geeks who are creating the future".… Continue reading iPads, blogs and the information future