The importance of knowledge

There\'s a discussion going on at LIBREF-L about a reference department thinking about changing its name to something including the word \"information\". In one of the replies, Victor Lieberman of the University of North Dakota made a statement that I instantly fell in love with:

Think of somebody staring out at the night sky. A computer says that you have gazillions of pieces of information at your fingertips, all the stars in the heaven are there for you to see, nothing hidden. A librarian will be willing to point out to you that those particular stars, over there, are the big dipper. That, I believe, in a nutshell, is the difference between \"information\" and \"knowledge.\"

To me, this speaks to the core of librarianship, and many of our current issues can be traced back to this concept. Why do we need more libraries, with more books, rather than just letting everyone do their own Internet searching? Because libraries are staffed by people with knowledge, people who know how to sift through the data and come up with value. Why do librarians need Master\'s degrees? Because surviving the rigors of a graduate program, regardless of what is taught, proves that a librarian has the skills necessary to find and organize information and synthesize knowledge. Why should a librarian be paid at an equal level with other professionals? Because, like engineers, we can take raw information and make it meaningful, manipulating it in unique ways and producing not just a collection of data, but something entirely new.
Read Victor\'s whole post.


Free as Air, Free As Water, Free As Knowledge

Bruce Sterling made This Speech to the Library Information Technology Association way back in
June 1992.Even 10 years ago he said Academia, libraries, cultural institutions were under protracted commercial siege.
Though, in his predictions he was off, just a bit:
\"Welcome to the Library of Congress. Jolt Cola is the official drink of the Library of Congress.\"
We now know it\'s Coke.

\"What\'s information really about? It seems to me there\'s something direly wrong with the ``Information Economy.\'\' It\'s not about data, it\'s about attention. In a few years you may be able to carry the Library of Congress around in your hip pocket. So? You\'re never gonna read the Library of Congress. You\'ll die long before you access one tenth of one percent of it. What\'s important --- increasingly important --- is the process by which you figure out what to look at. \"


Now Here's a Really Big Idea

Wired is running This Story on plans to create a human mental map -- a database that would contain a log of every human idea. Darryl Macer, associate professor at the Institute of Biological Sciences at the University of Tsukuba in Japan,formally proposed in the November 14 issue of Nature that researchers from various disciplines, including genetics, sociology and history, meet next year in Japan to discuss the project.


Claude E. Shannon: Founder of Information Theory

I found This One from over at Scientific American quite interesting. They say there\'s a new type of information science in town, and it\'s called \"quantum information science\". They Have a Second Story that explains what that means.
This one is on Claude E. Shannon, who, in a landmark paper written at Bell Labs in 1948, Shannon defined in mathematical terms what information is and how it can be transmitted in the face of noisw, and thus was born \"Classical\" information science .


The Politics of Research

The Politics of Research is an excerpt from: Martin, Brian. "The Politics of Research." Information Liberation. London: Freedom Press, 1998. pp. 123-142. The page says:

"The Minneapolis Community & Technical College Library was the first and only library in the United States to own a copy of this book on Oct. 1, 1999. As of May 16, 2001 seven other U.S. libraries have purchased the book. This demonstrates that just because knowledge is produced and published does not mean that it will be widely distributed. "

Abstract: The work of professional researchers is strongly influenced by funding, disciplines, hierarchy and competition. As a result, it is mainly useful to corporations, governments, professions and researchers themselves. Strategies to challenge this pattern include critical teaching and research, popularisation and community participation in research.


The Internet-only Research Approach: Does the Web Have It All

An Interesting Article over at From Now On takes a look at exclusively relying on the Internet to research. The author,Ken Vesey , says he is not a Luddite and fully embraces technology, but he says it is our responsibility as educators to model sound research behavior, and not cheat students of the opportunity of finding the best information by only leading them to a portion of the resources available.


The Network Society: A Shift in Cognitive Ecologies?

Here\'s the official abstract from this interesting article in the new First Monday:

By examining the psychodynamic effects on human cognition of the adoption of the technology of writing we
can logically assess and contextualize the potential effect of the massification of networked information
systems on our day-to-day thought processes. The identification of congruent, parallel and differential
affect between writing and network technologies demands that their development be considered above and
beyond the dictates and imperatives of consumer capitalism, it demands that the Internet be thought of in
terms of public infrastructure rather than saleable capital.

The article is
The Network Society: A Shift in Cognitive Ecologies? by Mathew Wall-Smith


Keepers of the Flame in a Brave New World

Keepers of the Flame in a Brave New World is James A. Gollata\'s Keynote Address for the Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians Annual Conference. Presented at opening luncheon on Wednesday, 17 April 2002.

He makes 9 very interesting predictions, and finished with this:

\"We have all joined the new priesthood of technicians, it seems. We needn\'t be the inventors or the hardware or software specialists, but we certainly can learn to work as best we can with developments as they occur. We can embrace, rather than reject. And we can continue to embrace, as well, the history of the word, and specifically the printed word. It will endure. And WE will endure, in whatever medium. And while preserving the past, we can be creative within this brave new world, and we can continue, ALWAYS -- in whatever manner necessary -- to keep the flame.\"


Defining Information Literacy

Information Highways has an Intersting Piece by Susanne Hasulo who says most people tend to equate information literacy with the mastery of various technologies to access and retrieve information, with less thought to how to evaluate and apply that information. She asks can knowledge workers agree on what information literacy really means, and more importantly, can these crucial skills be learned?

\"We\'re in an era where every client that phones me says \'How can I take more costs out of my business?\' Stop treating everything you do heroically and start treating your process and your [employees\'] knowledge as an asset available for use. Because the more we look at it, the more we realize that the real savings comes from exactly that, from turning data into knowledge.\"


Evidence Based Library Service

Steve Fesenmaier writes \" The following is part of a document I am creating on how to do the annual statistical survey for the State of West Virginia Public Library System -

Evidence Based Library Services by Steve Fesenmaier
During the last twenty years the term \"Information Age\" has become commonplace. Librarians have moved from the periphery to the center of our post-modern age. Whereas we once worked in a world of information scarcity, contemporary citizens work with a constant feeling of \"information anxiety.\" I believe that this requires a new attitude toward public libraries. We must ask ourselves if public libraries need to do the same things that they have been doing for almost a century in West Virginia.



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