Theory

Theory

A Reluctant Father of the Digital Age

MIT\'s Technology Review profiles the pioneering information theorist Claude Shannon:

The entire science of information theory grew out of one electrifying paper that Shannon published in 1948, when he was a 32-year-old researcher at Bell Laboratories. Shannon showed how the once-vague notion of information could be defined and quantified with absolute precision. He demonstrated the essential unity of all information media, pointing out that text, telephone signals, radio waves, pictures, film and every other mode of communication could be encoded in the universal language of binary digits, or bits—a term that his article was the first to use in print. Shannon laid forth the idea that once information became digital, it could be transmitted without error. This was a breathtaking conceptual leap that led directly to such familiar and robust objects as CDs. Shannon had written \"a blueprint for the digital age,\" says MIT information theorist Robert Gallager, who is still awed by the 1948 paper.

A statue of Claude Shannon was erected in his hometown of Gaylord, Michigan on October 6, 2000.

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Hate Reading Books? It\'s in the Genes

Hoser Yahoo was one place with a story on This Study that isn\'t exactly library related, but I can\'t resist.


Journal of Personality and Social Psychology ran a study called \"The Heritability of Attitudes: A Study of Twins\". They studied the genetic basis of individual differences in attitudes in twins. The study found that genetic factors accounted for 35 percent of the variation in attitudes, while environmental factors accounted for 65 percent.

And, yes, this included reading.

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Why does feminism matter in LIS Studies?

Found This Interesting paper by Kirsten Anderson on why feminism does matter in Library and Information Studies.


Some of her points include, Feminism is for everybody, The status of women and the status of librarianship, Female intensive, but not female dominant and Gender division of labour.

Check it Out.

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Higher Access Rates Good For Libraries?

AOL announced that it is raising its monthly fee to $23.90, its first price hike in more than three years, and This News.com story says that competitors such as EarthLink won\'t be far behind in trying to boost rates.
I\'ve seen elsewhere that DSL and Cable Modem companies are raising rates as well.


According to a recent survey by Telecommunications Reports International, the number of U.S. homes with Internet access dropped slightly during the first quarter of 200 (Let\'s just ass-u-me it\'s accurate).


So... Does all this point to more people using their friendly neighborhood library to access the internet, and if so, is this even good for libraries?

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Classic and Neo- Information

This week\'s Library Juice has an editorial called Classic and neo- information, about how the concept of information has changed without much notice, and about the implications of the change. Classic information is what\'s found in reference materials (for example), and neo-information includes anything that can be carried by an electronic signal. Values that apply to classic information are being used to support neo-information, and the failure to make the distinction has contributed to confusion about librarianship\'s future.

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Unwritten Knowledge

Lee Hadden Writes:
\" The March 29, 2001 issue of Nature has an interesting article by Jared
Diamond on \"Unwritten Knowledge: Preliterate societies depend on the wise
words of the older generation,\" Vol. 410, page 521.


Quotes from the article include: \"For us moderns, all information
essential to survival is transmitted in writing. We cannot conceive of a
preliterate society\'s absolute dependence on old people as the equivalent
of libraries.\" or \"We don\'t know, let\'s ask the old man (or woman).\"


You may purchase this article fro $7.00 if you do not already have an
account with Nature or access to it in your local library. Further
information is available at: nature.com\"

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Neutrality, Objectivity and the Political Center

I published a long editorial in Library Juice last week called Neutrality, Objectivity, and the Political Center, which explores and attempts to clarify the differences and relationships between these ideas. I realize that not everyone would agree with it, but I think it makes some important points out a few things that are seldom thought about by most librarians. I would appreciate your comments.

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The President who reads, succeeds?

Interested in how history will remember the presidency of voracious reader Bill Clinton, Harold Evans ponders the question \"Does history suggest any correlation between a passion for serious reading and an ability to inspire and manage the nation?\" in this article from the New York Times.

Compiling a list of bibliophile presidents from biographies and histories, he compares them with presidential rankings from a 1994 Siena Research Institute tracking survey and the 1999 C-Span Survey of Presidential Leadership

Not surprisingly, the bibliophiles ranked higher overall.

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Information Technology, 2500 B.C.

Bob Cox sent in This Story from Scientific American. It\'s a look back from the future, 2500 to be exact. They actually look back to the first society to leave a vivid written record, and it\'s impact on the future.

\"It was mainly war that brought ruin to walled Uruk and to all its royal successors. Whether we moderns will better manage our own overarmed world is far from a foregone conclusion.\"

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Not a Prophesy

Bob Kaehr writes:

When in the not-too-distant future (five-to-10 years) nearly all
books and periodicals become digital and libraries become archives, what
will happen to academic (even school, public and special) library personnel?

Will libraries be taken over or delivered into the hands of information
services?
Will there be mass dismissals of traditional \"book people\"?
Oh,
that\'s right, we\'ll just re-train? :>}

Will faculty, who can teach \"library
exercises\" from within the classroom (e.g. How to Use Information
Databases), need traditional BI?
Will there need to be circulation
personnel other than a clerk and a few aids to charge and discharge those
oldies but goodies?
Will for-profit companies become the selectors for the
various publics by virtue of the collections they are able to offer?

Continued...

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Print Vs. The Web

A funny thing happened the other day. Business 2.0
profiled one of the services the company I work for
offers. This included a screen shot of our web site, and
a nice review of our service. That wasn\'t the funny part.
The funny part was the reaction the article received
around the office. “Giddy” best summarizes the
responses of these 20 something dot.com employees
to having the web site they designed in a magazine.
Strange, considering it probably is viewed by more
people in a single day on the web, than will ever see it
in the magazine. But being in print made it some how
different, some how more worthy and important.
“Interesting”, I said to myself. “Perhaps the printed
word isn’t as dead as they say”.

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An Historical Perspective on the Commodification of Information

Intellectual Property: An Historical Perspective on the Commodification of Information, by Darcy Sharman, a recent grad of the University of Alberta library school, presents a look at the development of commodified information from early beginnings to the technological present. It is an interesting paper that has relevence for the current practice of librarianship, because librarians make information available for free (with public or community funding) at a time when there is increasing pressure to view all information as a commodity.


The introduction is ahead:

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Murdock\'s Lies and the Representation of Information

Murdock\'s Lies and the Representation of Information, by Australian professor Gordon Fletcher, takes a critical, postmodern view of the recent question, \"What is Information?\" Information Theory has encouraged us to look at information as something uniform, but this distracts us from what is actually represented by it. This paper looks at examples of information as artefacts, from a material culture perspective, and as stories, all with the point of providing insight into the social nature of what now circulates electronically in commodified form.


Go ahead for an excerpt from the conclusion:

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Need for First Amendment Education

Kathleen writes "Judge Marjorie O. Rendell, First Lady of Pennsylvania has stated, "The only way to hold on to our freedom is to give it away -- and liberally -- to those who come after us. In your own sphere of influence, in your own way, I invite you to join with me and give back meaning to the word "citizen." Concerned by a recent study that demonstrates a decline in understandidng of the First Amendment, Judge Rendell advocates citizenship education.

“The Future of the First Amendment,� found that educators are failing to give high school students an appreciation of the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech and a free press. The study by researchers from the University of Connecticut questioned more than 100,000 high school students, nearly 8,000 teachers, and more than 500 administrators and principals."

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