Visualizing, saving time and promoting insight

An interesting recent paper by Luciano Floridi, doyen of the philosophy of information, and his colleagues Min Chen and Rita Borgo asks what information visualization, one of the hottest topics in the information sciences over recent years in really for. Their answer is an intriguing one; it is not, as most visualization enthusiasts would have… Continue reading Visualizing, saving time and promoting insight

On the teaching of cataloguing

Few things have raised as much controversy in the normally quiet world of library/education as how, and why, we teach cataloguing. On the one side are those who mourn the decline of teaching of traditional style ‘cat and class’, fearing that we are denying our students one of the few undeniably unique skills of the… Continue reading On the teaching of cataloguing

Dr Nicholson and his metabolic maps

Many years ago, in another life, while I was studying organic chemistry, my eyes often wandered to the colourful and complicated maps of biochemical pathways which often hung in lecture rooms and laboratories. I’m sorry to say that I paid them little attention, other than to reflect that I was lucky to have avoided the… Continue reading Dr Nicholson and his metabolic maps

Emergence, novices, and all things new

The rather sudden arrival of spring leads one (well, leads me), naturally enough, to think of new things and emerging entities, and their information needs and consequences. Most obviously we might think of providing the knowledge needed by learners, at all stages and in any subject or topic, and of the need for those learners… Continue reading Emergence, novices, and all things new

Alas for the paperless office. Weep for the fragile archive.

Farewell, obscure objects of desire, an article by Matthew Reisz in the Times Higher (19th January 2012) reports a British Academy conference on open access academic publishing. It attributes some interesting views to Alice Prochaska, principal of Somerville College, Oxford, who notes that libraries and archives have invested huge resources in digitisation projects to make… Continue reading Alas for the paperless office. Weep for the fragile archive.

Fads, assimilations and knowledge management

While writing a review for Aslib Proceedings of a new text on knowledge management, Kevin C. Desouza and Scott Paquette's Knowledge Management: an introduction, I commented that there was a bit of a contradiction in the way that the book addresses Tom Wilson's criticism – in his 2002 paper, The nonsense of knowledge management -… Continue reading Fads, assimilations and knowledge management

Information Ecology in Bratislava

Last week I had the chance to attend a conference on the topic of 'Information Ecology and Libraries', held at the library of the Comenius University in Bratislava. Organised by Jela Steinerová, of the University's department of library and information science, the meeting attracted participants from several countries. The city of Bratislava has now entirely… Continue reading Information Ecology in Bratislava

An anonymous and undiscriminating library

We all, I'm sure, have occasions when an idea stays in our heads for ages, perhaps appearing from different angles, but we never quite get around to clarifying for ourselves exactly what it's about. How nice when a proper philospher does it for us, without being asked. "The ideal of thinking for oneself is in… Continue reading An anonymous and undiscriminating library

The case for Pluto

The makers and maintainers of classifications, thesauri and other tools for indexing and arranging human knowledge have to tread a delicate balance. On the one hand, they want to keep things stable as much as possible; users are annoyed if major changes are made too often, particularly if it means that hapless librarians have to… Continue reading The case for Pluto

Bush, Goldberg, Memex and the revision of history

This is a version of an editorial to appear in the Journal of Documentation. Vannevar Bush gets a mixed press these days. Once he was hailed as a 'father of information science' - some called him our 'Godfather' – on the basis of his 1945 Atlantic Monthly vision of Memex. This was, and in some… Continue reading Bush, Goldberg, Memex and the revision of history