Sunday, September 19, 2010

Info-Glutton or Info-Connoisseur?

Of the themes I found interesting in Luker's three chapters, one in particular may resonate with those currently enrolled in INF 1001. Luker makes repeated reference to the difference in the amount and range of information that is currently accessible to researchers, and how this change should be taken into account in relation to modern research methods. Luker points out that the traditional precursor to conducting research, namely "knowing the literature", has a different value in an age where information is not only more plentiful, but also tends not to be organized by the "filters" of institutional validation (and its inverse). She also notes that these factors have over time contributed to the rise, within academic circles as well as in popular culture, of interdisciplinarity. I say that this might resonate with INF1001 students, in that one of our required readings for this week, Twyla Gibson's paper entitled "On Translation & Transformation (What's Next)", also refers to the increase in available information (not only in the shift from print to digital media, but also in the centuries following the invention of the printing press) resulting in specializations branching off from established academic disciplines, which sometimes are caused by, and sometimes lead to, interdisciplinary approaches.

I think that the substantial increase in amount, availability and equality (for sore lack of a better term) of information does force us to re-evaluate our concept of "knowing the literature", but I also believe this re-evaluation needs to address not only what is expected in the course of a research project, but also how specialized and exact a research project can become in an environment in which people are, on the level of output, publishing their findings in greater and greater numbers (through institutions or otherwise), and on the level of input, have unprecedented tools at their disposal to set their own parameters for filtration in the course of their research through, for instance, the use of increasingly sophisticated metadata.

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