The Janus face of documentation

Documents are generally agreed to be one of the main foci, in not the main focus, of interest for the information sciences, since the ideas of documentation were first developed by Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine. We have recently seen a revival of interest in document theory, through the insights of scholars such as… Continue reading The Janus face of documentation

Documents and people, Otlet and Heidegger

This is an amended review of Ron Day’s new book, Indexing it all: the subject in the age of documentation, information and data (MIT Press). The full review will appear in Information Polity. The significance and continuing influence of the documentation movement of the early twentieth century has become increasing commented upon in recent years.… Continue reading Documents and people, Otlet and Heidegger

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

The declining impact of the impact factor?

This is an amended version of an editorial to be published in Journal of Documentation. Impact factors have been, for quite a few years now, the single metric most closely associated with the ‘quality’ of an academic journal, or similar dissemination mechanism. This simple, perhaps simplistic, measure has been receiving an increasing level of criticism… Continue reading The declining impact of the impact factor?

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

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?

The end of media and the continuance of skills

Although I have never had very much to do with newspaper libraries, and other media information services, I still felt a little sad at the news of the demise of the Association of UK Media Librarians. For over 20 years this was the professional body for information specialists in this sector. Now, alas, the double… Continue reading The end of media and the continuance of skills

New year, old idea ?

A new year always provokes thoughts of what has gone and what is to come. The news media, feeding our liking for the comfort of the repetition of the annual cycle, devote much space in January to this kind of reflection, which often seems not to change much from one year to the next. I… Continue reading New year, old idea ?

Impact factors and half-lives

It's that time of year when academic journal editors nervously look at the Web of Science data to see how they've done compared with their competitors, as assessed by the magic bibliometrics that are now the basis of any assessment of how 'good' a journal is. In my case, of course, I was looking to… Continue reading Impact factors and half-lives