information theory


We’re kind of trapped (in a good way) in a social networking track here at bar camp day 2. I combined sessions with Sam Wallin — he wanted to discuss general social networks and how they relate to libraries. I wanted to talk about Facebook (and other apps) and what adoption of it (and related, heavily architected tools) means to info professionals.

SamWallin at InfoCamp Social Networking Session

Like Kathleen noted, lots of questions and few answers. I proposed that Facebook might become the killer app and that people will then use Facebook as kind of homebase or main tool (in some cases taking the place of other tools — email, IM, etc — at least in some contexts.), In such a situation, how does the “generic” or architected nature of the site impact the work that info pros can do to expidite the flow of information.

Again, not a lot of answers but a lot of disagreement with me. Many people felt that they don’t see facebook as the killer app — for that to happen there needs to be some way to separate personal and work lives (and separate the networks you belong to in those cases). And if you do separate those parts of your life, then the would shut down the ubiquitous nature of Facebook.

To some degree I can relate to that idea. I agree that you don’t want to do work networking on a site where you post photos of your drunken new years eve episode. I’m not sure if the answer is more social networks. Maybe it’s more thoughtful use of a main network where you limit what you share to make it appropriate for a broader group of users and then belong to special networks (or have a specialized blog or web page or usenetgroup or whatever) for your “fringe” activities.

I liked Justin’s philosophy — he doles out little “tidbits” of information on Facebook. People can learn a little bit more about him based on the groups he belongs to and how he interacts with those however they don’t get a lot of detail from his profile alone.

For what it’s worth, I’m willing to say I might be wrong on one count (at least). Facebook might not kill Linkedin (one of the many inflammatory things I said today). In fact, Linkedin may get stronger because it fills one of those fringe area needs I discuss above. For example you may say you are an interaction designer on your facebook profile, but may not want to throw in your resume or client list up there. Instead, you can let your Linked-in profile fill that need.

I’m not sure what all this means for me…I’ve got some more thinking to do. How about you?

Nick Finck at Info Camp

That’s me blowing the dust off this blog after a summer hiatus (as well as time spent on my bike blog.

Today, Kathleen and I are at InfoCamp, a conference designed to “cross pollinate” the information ecosystem (think: Information architects, librarians, usability pros, and other UX minded folks). I’m sure we’ll have something to talk about.

Right now we’re getting a key note from Nick Finck from Blue Flavor talking (mostly) about the role info pros can play in the growing mobile space.

Stay tuned!

I picked up David Weinberger’s new book Everything is Miscellanous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder the other day. I’ve only read 30 pages or so but it’s great so far. It’s very thought provoking, especially for me as an LIS student. It’s got me thinking about the power of organization and how everyone’s organization is different. When I first picked up the book, I was struck by the dedication: To the librarians. I thought it was an interesting homage to the librarians who perhaps had influenced Weinberger. But when I got about 10 pages into the book, I soon realized how wrong I’d been. It’s more about encouraging librarians to read the book and think about the power of organization in a different way. And that there’s no “right” way to organize. The power lies in finding a system that allows each of us to organize in our own way, for our own goals, in our own context. And to help people find meaning in their organization. And then I read this quote from David Weinberger’s Everything is Miscellaneous blog and realized I was on the right track:

I said that the Aristotelian assumptions, combined with the limitations of paper-based knowledge, lead to authority over knowledge being placed in the hands of a few. The few tend to be highly qualified and often selfless, but it still is a power regime. Although I didn’t say this last night, that’s why I am so enamored of the idea that fundamentally the Internet is ours. In fact, another way to say what the book is about would be: Everything Is Miscellaneous is about meaning becoming ours.

Excellent. I am digging this book and cannot wait to read more. I encourage all you librarians (and non-librarians) out there to read it. It’s all about what I’ve been studying these last two years. And not.

David Weinberger, Tim Spaulding (of LibraryThing fame) and Karen Schneider (the Free Range Librarian) were on Radio Open Source yesterday. You can listen to it here. I haven’t listened but I plan to be downloading it to my iPod so I can listen on the bus one day soon. They talked about Daivid Weinberger’s new book and the organization of all digital. Christopher Lydon refers to it as a “new taxonomy of knowledge taking shape”. Tune in. I’m sure it’s a good one.

Indian classification guru S.R. Ranganathan definitely had it right with his Five Laws of Library Science. His laws remain virtually timeless as written. They don’t need need anything from a hack like me.

But…as an exercise I figure the laws are fair game. To my thinking, anything us students can do to help us frame our thinking as we tackle the challenge of being new information professionals in the 21st century is good, right?

The Service of Information
It goes without saying that we are about more than just books. As our blog title notes, we care about Information. We’re also in agreement on the importance (THE importance!) of Service, so I think it’s helpful to view the Laws through that lens as well. So, with apologies to S.R., I humbly propose Five Little Considerations of Information Service:

1. Information is for use.
2. Every person his or her Information.
3. Every Information its user.
4. Save the time of the user.
5. The library is a growing organism.

I’m having trouble with number 5. Is library (and for those who aren’t familiar with the original laws, I basically just subbed Information for Library) still appropriate? I thought about using web or Internet but what about physical items? I think one of the main roles of libraries (now, but especially in the future), is to provide the service bridging physical and virtual collections, the web, and whatever ever new info sources come down the pipe. Can we just use Information as in “Information is a growing organism” or is that too generic and too much of pathway to those academic but not so useful discussions about what is knowledge, what is information, what is a document, blah, blah, blah….?

What do you think?