Log, September-December 2002

(Some text is bold to indicate that it seemed later on to be particularly significant or portentious; there is a page of links to comments on and excerpts from specific authors mentioned below; also available: books and articles read, September-December 2002, materials collected for later digestion, and materials written, September-December 2002. A list of campuses visited and people with whom I had extended discussions is available. Looking Ahead to 2003 presents a summary of plans and directions, and a justback directory continues in this vein.)

13 September
I'm intending to find and develop the means to track and organize the full range of my activities, and to explore the use of the laptop as a workspace. Just how the eventual presentation of my activities will be organized I have no idea --I've thought of some schemes to incorporate the haiku, and hope to cross-link things to take full advantage of hypertextual possibilities, and there's some thought of using latent semantic indexing and the Brain to develop other means to index, retrieve, and represent what I'm doing. Much of the immediate work will be done in my notebooks, probably, since they're more portable than the laptop, and more accessible at 4:30 AM when something occurs to me and I have to get it down before it fades. That means that I'll need to transcribe too. Indeed, there's already a good deal that needs transcribing from the visit to CET and Middlebury.

Identifying the separate parts of this enterprise is a challenge in itself, since I persist in thinking of it as all one big something, without being able to clearly delimit just what that something is. Seen from one angle, the heart is digital library (since I want to explore the definition and implementation of this creature that I'm acutely conscious of developing and connecting myself with). Most of the people I talk with can be forgiven for not having that perspective, and I'm generally going to be approaching them for their expertise and concerns, not my own. In another perspective, what I'm really most centrally concerned with is the evolution of teaching and learning in the liberal arts context, and my intentions are pretty much subversive: I really want to contribute to the change in conception of what it is to teach and learn in an environment rich with electronic/digital resources, and I want to participate in rescuing this evolution from the dreaded and dreadful label of "instructional technology". I'm also obligated to look at specific contexts and seek inspiration for development of a number of aspects of my W&L personae: the science library, GIS, international studies. There's also the question of how Information Services might be reorganized, which Tom Burish has asked my opinion on: are there things, positive and negative, to be learned from exploring what peer institutions are doing?

In addition to those activities, all stated or implied in the sabbatical plan, I've become interested in some topics centered in forestry, land use, development (harking back to Sarawak, to regional studies, to various facets of ecology, and connecting as well to 'sustainability' and the Amazon). Several books feed into this stream: Rolde's The Interrupted Forest: a history of Maine's wildlands (2001), Klyza and Trombulak's The Future of the Northern Forest (1994), and Foster and O'Keefe New England Forests Through Time: insights from the Harvard Forest dioramas (2000). On a related account: Miller and Westra Just Ecological Integrity: the ethics of maintaining planetary life (2002)

I'm also surprised to find myself writing vast numbers of haiku, though most of that activity seems to be connected with walking, and a lot of it was quite specifically in response to what I saw as we walked the Appalachian Trail. I've never had much connection to 'poetry', and perhaps haiku is really its own thing and doesn't belong in the 'poetry' category. For me the significant thing is the clarity encouraged by the attempt to express complexity in a frame of 17 syllables, and the opportunity to watch my own mind at work has been a revelation.

Another area I expect to work on, in various ways as yet undefined, is the topic of 'environmental justice'; clearly there's a connection to forestry, and to the coffee project I started to gather information about during the summer, and the opportunity to work with Greg Cooper in a Winter term course is the reason.

Middlebury: my foremost intent was to connect with Bryan Alexander, and we spent several very interesting hours talking about an extraordinarily wide range of issues. I was able to ease into visiting in conversations with Louise Zipp, David Guertin, Barbara Doyle-Wilch, and Bob Churchill. I encountered several books that seem like I should spend time on: Barabasi's Linked: the new science of networks, Lessig's The Future of Ideas: the fate of the commons, and Jack Park's XML Topic Maps which is one of those things I feel like I should know enough about to be able to figure out where it fits. I'll transcribe a few bits of post-conversational summary:

I think I've been convinced that a broad vision of Information is essential for all constituencies for at least the last 10 years, and developments like the Web, GIS, and relational databases have just intensified and directed the conviction. It's not widely understood or believed, and few people seem to have even the vestiges of ideas for how to implement the vision, how to reach into classrooms and pedagogy, how to enskill students and teachers, how to build systems that are evolutionary, and that go beyond reactivity to current demands.

My 'answers' to these challenges take the form of prototypes of various sorts, workings-out of solutions to the problems I've identified. They have produced results, and/or fed the development of other projects... but we're not reaching the broad public, and I don't really expect to find that others are succeeding where I haven't. Indeed, I don't expect to find many people who compehend the conception...

Middlebury is one of the colleges that has merged Library and Computing, though it's still quite new. Barbara D-W spoke of the current state as being one of 'merger' being undefined --cohabit, marry, share space-- and she expressed the view that many librarians (not necessarily just those on her staff) as unwilling and unable to depart from their traditional notions of what the Library is and does, unprepared to engage more directly with classroom teachers and take on new challenges to change what they do. As she put it, quite a few are convinced that "the worth is in the physical collection". She has established study groups which mix library and ET personnel, to discuss fairly focused questions, and a distillation committee to synthesize findings. Louise Zipp spoke of how helpful it was to explore the different perspectives.

Betsy and I discussed at some length the contrasting ethos of library and computing personnel: librarians' commitment to service to public and exploration and satisfaction of user needs, in contrast to the hostility that often characterizes the interaction between computer people and their users. It's worth exploring further the idea that users of computing facilities are basically a nuisance to the info tech specialist: stupid, woefully ignorant, always presenting SOLVED problems that aren't interesting or challenging. IT people generally center on Tech, not on Content: they think of content as generic (it doesn't matter what the particulars are), while librarians focus directly on content, and are less concerned with structure. Systems people don't adapt their assumptions and level of discourse to that of users... but they deal a lot with the irate, and with a high ambient level of stress. They are not 'communicators', and generally don't work on a f2f basis with users. Librarians get to see and deal with user bafflement on a case-by-case basis. For IT people, the consequences to users are only tangentially relevant to the work at hand, and there is an issue of hostility. Librarians sometimes fear that what they value and know how to do is about to disappear, or be absorbed and downgraded/disvalued. What's needed, and what's missing often, is an intermediate mentality and skill set, centering on identifying problems, mediating, and connecting users up with requisite resources --precisely the role I've taken on any number of times.

Users need support people to be proactive...

14 Sept
continuing with materials from my notebook and the visit to Middlebury:
One of my central concerns is the emergent interlinkage of ...classroom, library, technology... but this really isn't the eloquent way to put it, because 'technology' is so much less clear: we think we know what a classroom is, what its parameters are, and ditto a library. But the point is that both are evolving very rapidly, and it's better to rephrase the question to: how does the digital/electronic world change teaching and learning? Bryan's notions of 'digital culture' are much more to the point than the cold world of gadgets and software.

Dave Guertin, when asked what he thought were the main problems and challenges on the horizon was quite clear in identifying them as connected to databases. That question, what's over the horizon, is one I should ask each person I talk with.

I'm conscious of wanting to write chapters ...well, no, really create text-spaces... around particular issues. One of those is the question: what is it to manage information? It's not that I want to rehash my own clichée'd phrases and conceptions, but rather to create some better sense of the ideas to persuade others that this is a central and important question in teaching and learning. This is surely one of THE basic questions, and one that various technologies have fundamentally altered. Perhaps the essence of the alteration is that retrieval has been so greatly changed: the amount of material within grasp is so much vaster, and so much that was hidden can now be queried and quarried. Available tools get more and more sensitive and responsive, but what has to happen on the user end is a parallel development of the structures to contain and array what one stores. The Personal Brain is one such utility ...

And that led me to recalling The Mirage of Continuity, which I intended to read and integrate into what I'm doing. I'll intend to keep some running notes as I work through its electronic version. Indeed, starting with the concluding chapter (What's Ahead?) seems appropriate:

the necessity for 'fundamental restructuring' of institutions, the changed landscape of 'information access and global communication', and questions about the long-run place of print repositories, and "the unpredictable nature of the commercial value of scholarly disciplines as technology expands the frontiers of knowledge" (291)... but the BIG problem is leadership and management of the 'transitional process'
I'm curious what Donald Kennedy has to say:
he refers to the "life-cycle of nearly everything" as having shortened, producing "a new occupational obsolescence" (15) and the consequent necessity to educate for "flexibility and adaptability", and for higher ed to "create abundant, accessible opportunities for relearning" (16). He refers to "programs that invite students to plan and undertake their own inquiry" (he calls them "manipulables") --but I think to myself that's just what this MACHINE is, once one has the idea that it CAN be and has basic control over some utilities for composition, retrieval, management... what's left to be specified is just WHAT those are. These ARE the basis for "active engagement" which he identifies as how students "learn best". I like this one: "Students need to develop the intellectual taste that will make them discriminating customers" (17): that's IT in a nutshell as the challenge for those who design and implement liberal arts curricula. He also mentions the international, though he doesn't go on to talk about the importance of American learning about the rest of the world. (though he does say "the increasingly international nature of our concerns will challenge us to create innovations in curriculum and the organization of scholarly work", and he was quite eloquent at the UVa conference --was it 3 years ago?)

15 September
Continuing Kennedy:

"...academic computing can engage students with their own learning in new and powerful ways", says Kennedy, just before 'manipulables'. I think that the really important point, which he doesn't seem to have, is that "academic computing" (was there ever a stiffer phrase?) frees students and challenges them to become creators and contributors --not something most are ready for, or know what to do with. What goes along with that potential is the necessity for their teachers to develop a broader palette of ways to use (steer, guide, support) that capability.

Kennedy (and Barbara Doyle-Wilch mentioned the same thing) is worried about "quality control" in the face of the vastly expanded available "research information"; my answer is to treat that as an explicit problematic, front and center in any class that uses Web resources, and even more so in those that produce for public distribution on the Web. I've been less assiduous about that myself, so far, and it's one of the things I mean to pay more attention to in future.

Kennedy is quite eloquent on the subject of departmental/university organization, though he's mostly talking about the _academic_ side. Some of his comments might be applied to the questions of Merger. Here's a good bit:

In short, nearly every aspect of the university has a long product life-cycle and is associated with a high 'regret function.' The immediate consequence is that it is difficult to envision a new or radically altered condition, and the eventual result is a set of policies and practices that favor the present state of affairs over any possible future. It is a portrait of conservatism, perhaps even of senescence. (20)
Kennedy notes and names "estrangement between the administrative and academic cultures:
Academic culture strongly favors individual initiative and a pioneering kind of creativity, whereas those of the administrative culture stress accountability, team loyalty, and discipline. Wherever there is interaction at the boundary, these values are often in conflict. (21)
Jeez, he nailed that one. I've been perfectly content to carry on with the former model, though for the last decade I've been in an organization whose tradition is more like the latter.

Here's another good crystallization, though it's not exactly part of our current problems: "...an increasing realization that the great problems confronting the world are too interesting and important to be ignored --and that they do not come in disciplinary packages" (24).

16 September
Concluding Kennedy: he talks at length about structural dilemmas and describes 'Good Guy U', which sounds a lot like the best of the liberal arts institutions. Finally, he says of the university

...its improvement must entail putting students and their needs first. Once that is done, the rest falls into place... placing students first is a simple design principle, but it has great power. (35)

Williamson (When Change is the Only Constant):

Is there a new paradigm of learning because of the technological revolution? If not, or if the answer to the question is as yet merely blurred, what are the major aspects of the new technology that affect our missions, our budgets, our faculties, and, most importantly, our ability to meet our standards of traditional excellence in the area of undergraduate liberal arts education? (79)

What is happening is less a shift in learning and education than in communication and in the sharing, manipulation, and dissemination of information.(80)

...the assumption that we can transform, and, therefore, will transform, all of higher education into a learning community remains to be proved. (80) ...use the technology to connect students with the world of intellect and reflection... (83)

(I didn't find that chapter as helpful as I'd hoped, given that it was 'about' liberal arts institutions)

17 September
Brown and Duguid are a breath of clear air, eminently quotable but also just plain readable: "People who have paid a lot for a chunk of tradition usually will resist attempts to dismember it" (40)

"Learning, at all levels, relies ultimately on personal interactions and, in particular, on a range of implicit and peripheral forms of communication, some of which technology is still very far from being able to handle proficiently" (40-41).

More clarity on 'credentialing' than I've seen anywhere else. Get this:

Behind a front of public respectability, students and faculty undertake activities that are socially valuable but not readily valued in the market. In the end, this slack provides the job market and society as a whole more diverse and valuable candidates than they probably know to request... When people look too hard at degrees, we suspect they see a sort of intellectual bill of lading, a receipt for knowledge-on-board. Teaching, in this view, is a delivery service and school a loading site... (43) ...an extraordinarily passive view of how people learn, one which takes no account of the active participation necessary for learning and knowing (44)

and this is superb:

...people don't become physicists by learning formulas any more than they become football players by learning plays. In learning how to be a physicist or a football player --how to act as one, talk as one, be recognized as one-- it's not the explicit statements, but the implicit practices that count. Indeed, knowing only the explicit --mouthing the formulas or the plays-- is often exactly what gives an outsider away. Insiders know more. By coming to inhabit the relevant community, they get to know not just what the standard answers are, but the real questions and why they matter. Learning involves inhabiting the streets of a community's culture. (45, emphasis added)

They cite Lave and Wenger's phrase "communities of practice", and identify them as "essential and inevitable building blocks of society", and say "the real test of a school... is the quality of access it provides to academic communities... it's exactly because some schools give credentials without ever giving suitable access to knowing communities that the relationship between learning and credentials is always problematic... the central thrust of any attempt to retool the education system must involve expanding direct access to communities, not simply to credentials" (46).

Just so. What I would claim is that one of the relevant 'communities' is now a global-scale electronic body which Web users ARE directly accessing and participating in, overwhelmingly on a passive/consuming basis, as browsers.

...we believe that any retooling must be two-pronged: it must seek to provide wider access to communities --and not just to information-- and it must expand ways to represent new forms of access and practice. (47)

On pg 51 they describe 'annotation systems' to augment static pages. We really need to explore what the landscape of these is. Their label "distal education" is also worth noting, as being distinct from "distance education".

Some notes I made while climbing Mount Mist:

Students (and their teachers too) need to do things to get to be good at them. To become astute and 'critical' users of the elctronic media that WILL surround them all their lives, they must actively engage, and practise the constructive and increasingly informed criticism, AND learn to manage digital resources, AND learn to use communications media as responsible producers and consumers. From whom are they to learn the skills, develop perspective, test integration? The point is that AUDIENCE is now much greater: one another, and the global audiences now readily accessible, and no longer primarily the prof. This is our challenge: so how does this emerging reality change tasks and responsibilities of professors, librarians, ET/IT specialists, and colleges as institutions? We in higher education CAN continue as if nothing had happened, and some (in all sectors) will. Colleges tolerate that sort of diversity.

Hawkins "Unsustainability of the traditional library..."
What is needed is a collection of information, in many formats, stored electronically in locations throughout the world, but organized, collected and shared via a central networked organization. It would be a library that draws upon a myriad of resources that already exist, and supplemented with donations and purchases of intellectual property through a radically new business model... Our industrial age libraries are not scaleable into the next century, into an information age... (cites Harvard's Librarian: "The greatest challenge... is to implement new entrepreneurially oriented management structures and cultures in our ailing industrial age libraries")... move to an electronic model where information access --rather than ownership-- is the defining characteristic of a quality library [sic!] (143)

18-19 September
I visited Bowdoin on Wednesday and talked with Judith Montgomery (Associate Librarian, in charge of all public services, essentially COO) and Peter Schilling (director of the Educational Technology Center, which he describes as the "software and Web app development shop", primarily dedicated to support of faculty, but also responsible for all academic and specialized software and for academic servers). My sense, subject to revision as I get other perspectives, is that the partition of Library, ETC and Computing creates three quite independent units, each concentrating on their own competencies and problems --that they are not interdigitated, and I'm not sure to what degree they are active cooperators. The library is wrestling with the predictable set of problems with vendors, balance of print and online, storage, consortial stuff. There are specialized staff (a Technology Librarian, a Technology Specialist IN the library, an Instructional Media Services operation for students, with a drop-in lab). Creation and management of digital collections is mostly in Archives and Special Collections, and in projects via the ETC (academic.bowdoin.edu/etc for more).

Sara Amato works remotely from VT, and I'll e-mail her for more on how that works in practise. Sue O'Dell was away, as was Sherry Bergman.

Peter Schilling has been at Bowdoin for 3 years, has a staff of 12 (4 of them on grant $) plus students. He described the impetus for the ETC as coming from the faculty. He maintains close ties with the grants office, to inject reality into proposal development, and he sits on an interdisciplinary faculty stats group and is putting together a GIS working group to do much the same thing.

The gulf between Brown & Duguid and what I see on the ground is part of what I think I'm responsible for surveying. There's so much to do in keeping the nose above water that the 'visionary' doesn't get much attention. Our experimentation with using electronic distibution has been pretty tentative (c.f. what Judith Montgomery said about pdfs managed by the library: now more than 1000, about double last year already) and vendor-driven, though the DB stuff Skip and Cindy and John and I have been exploring is arguably the exception.

Hawkins summarizes well:

Electronic distribution allows for the integration of information as well as its retrieval (146-147) ...We need to create educational environments that are interdisciplinary in nature, and which show how concepts link to other areas... These 'linkages' can be embedded into information that is stored electronically, thus allowing a person to peruse these related topics... This 'linking' software is critical if we are to prepare liberally educated persons who must cope with lateral integration of information as well as vertical specialization... (148)

(citing Harlan Cleveland[1985!]:) the modern university is not well suited to the task of educating people for the get-it-all-together function. The university's self-image, its organization, and its reward systems all tilt against breadth. (148)

Before I lose track of the intention, I want to transcribe the several quotes I made from Weinberger's Small Pieces Loosely Joined when I read it in Brazil:

We share geography with nematodes and macaroons but we are not social with them (119)

You can look at the Web as consisting of two basic forms of knowledge: the database and the joke (143 --but this seems to miss the text)

The Web is a more honest --because unguarded-- reflection of what we are like when we seek one another out without the limitations the real world imposes on us. It's not always a pretty picture, but it's a hell of a lot more fun than posing in your prom outfit all your life (194)

The Web confronts us with a different sort of brute fact: we are creatures who care about ourselves and the world we share with others; we live within a context of meaning; the world is richer with meaning than we can imagine (xii)

Hundreds of millions of people are building a transnational infrastructure without, guidance, assistance, or permission (15)

The concept of the document has become elastic almost to the point of meaninglessness (37)

The Web, unlike a communications medium, accretes value. It is the persistent sum of the stories we are telling one another (69)

Perhaps the Web is shortening our attention span. Perhaps the world is just getting more interesting (69)

The larger the fiefdom, the more powerful the monarch. If your project gets big enough, you can actually become a pharaoh and have your brains hooked out through your nose and achieve an imperviousness indistinguishable from death (81)

These epitomise an undiminished tension that engages me. At Bowdoin I chanced to see a class being held outdoors, a ring of a dozen or so students, presumably dealing with the text of a play: one stood up to give a reading of a passage, in drama-voice... and I thought (at the same time) [1] there's the problem and [2] that's what colleges do best. The former is the knottier of the observations, and includes the important fact that colleges are a glorious opportunity for the young to try out all sorts of things, but they are so young. What gets their attention, and how can it be steered? Such a distance from the perhaps-essential moment of the dramatic reading to the management of a personal information universe. The latter isn't really on the screens, or on the agenda.

I keep coming back to a sense that I need to define and express the problematic --that which it's increasingly necessary to teach around and about, having to do with interpretation, evaluation, management and communication of information, and the creation (I suppose we could say) of knowledge.

23 Sept
Katz "Managing academic information resources in the future"

The transformation from predominantly print-based information resource, owned and financed by the campus, to a hybrid environment of print and networked media resources will require a new conception of the flow of academic information... (154)

Within existing management models, information from instrumentation sources... is managed within research groups. As miniaturization technologies continue to improve, and, as the costs of specialized (and wireless communicating) processors continue to fall, new streams of data... will become torrents of potential academic information resources to be managed. (155)

[ubiquity, mobility]

Institutionally based academic information centers continue to be organized on the Alexandrian model under the assumption that the centralized collection, management, and care of physical resource will best assure the protection of scarce tangible assets... (157-158)

...increasing need to invest heavily in networks and networked information, and in the preparation of the professorate for facilitating student learning in a networked context... (158)

...a rising tide of complex compound 'documents' (158)

the author-centric model of academic information commerce, while appealing in a romantic frontier-libertarian sense, is a model unsupported by a needed management infrastructure and is probably not scaleable. A world in which everyone can create a document, save it as an HTML file, post this file to a Web site... is likely to be one in which information content is substantially devalued. Such a word satisfies authors' need to say something, without addressing students' or researchers' need to know something... The consequence of this model is likely to be an open Web frontier populated by second-class information and littered by abandoned, disused, and non-maintained sites. (162)

(outlines various possible strategies... here's the one that seems relevant to liberal arts setting:) ...prepare a technical and human environment that encourages members of the institution's community to use academic information resources through distributed virtual environments developed by those institutions... significant effort and investment should go toward the development of institutionally unique virtual environments... (which must recapture the community member's sense of place in the way that the campus and library foster a learning community). (167)

...campus leaders must acculturate the campus to the notion of network investments as investments in the library (168)

Successful institutions will need to foster effective alliances for the acquisition, storage, and distribution of academic information resources... an environment and a set of reinforcing incentives that will encourage deep, unprecedented, and sustainable cooperation among faculty members, librarians, technologists, and media specialists to transform their traditionally compartmentalized responsibilities... (169-170)

Colleges and universities must actively monitor the market for search, filtering, personalization, and 'agent' technologies, experiment with these technologies, and deploy the best of them in campus servers and workstations. These technologies will allow campuses to begin building the compelling virtual environments that will foster user loyalty... "multidimentional, immersive environments that provide a more intuitive view of large collections of data grouped or clustered by meaning" [citing Ubois 1998] (170)

Institutions that will predominantly use networked information must become aware of, and organized for, changes in property rights that are being ushered in... (175)

In a post-Web world, campuses must begin to create distributed virtual environments that mediate the quality of academic information resources and foster high levels of interaction among those who use them... track, test, and implement new technologies for searching, browsing, and filtering network-based academic information resources. New technologies will make it possible to render information in new visual forms, creating meaningful groupings and clusters of information. Such technologies will go far toward making distributed virtual environments for teachers and learners a reality. (176-177)

Griffiths "Why the Web is not a library"
Librarians will...

evolve from collection builders to knowledge prospectors... evolve from classifiers, catalogers and indexers to metadata developers and publishers ...evolve from information retrieval specialists to knowledge navigators and 'expedition guides' ...from reference librarians to information analysts/knowledge interpreters ...need to become effective collaborators as well as teachers... (237-240, passim)

Thinking for a moment about the nagging necessity to write something for the Digital South: a sort of "what it might look like", connected to the relevant extracted passages from Mirage... because it's not necessarily obvious or clear just why we need this thing... Elements seem to be:

One common problem, seen in every institution that has explored GIS, is the daunting complexity of GIS software, and the seeming inevitability of much investment in teaching the tool in order to make it possible for students and teachers to have access to its benefits and power. Disciplines that need GIS (such as Geology) have often developed their own facilities to provide this training to their majors, but such departmental labs do not encourage the spread of GIS to other disciplines. Without a dedicated (highly-trained, expensive, accessible) 'GIS guy' to solve implementation problems and support users beyond the basic descriptive uses of GIS technology, it is unlikely that a campus will incorporate GIS as a tool on the same footing as numerical database tools (Excel, SPSS, etc.) which are readily accepted as essentials in many departments.

Another conundrum is what to do about management of spatial data: how to create and maintain the environments and utilities to make it possible for a user to know what spatial data are available, to provide locations and containers

24 Sept
I see GIS as an enabling technology, including an interesting range of things, centering on visualization, access, and communication:

So here I am, saying the same things over and over... and expressing the conviction that experimentation and prototype development is a vitally important thing for colleges to engage in, and especially for libraries to involve themselves with, as a part of developing their centrality to the emerging electronic information world. And it IS a matter of 'developing', of finding active paths to incorporate and integrate digital information.

25 Sept
Mirage really refers to the DIScontinuity introduced by digital media, by the fundamental changes introduced as electronic access augments and substitutes for traditional (and especially print) information resources. The procedures and conventions and institutions of the print-and-paper world are unequal to and insufficient for a reality that is increasingly digital.

Chodorow and Lyman:

Interdisciplinary fields have not yet become disciplines, equal to or supplanting the traditional fields, and yet each is marked by new kinds of information that are not easily contained within the traditional disciplinary organizing systems of modern libraries. (68)

27 Sept
Arjun Appadurai edited Globalization (Duke UP 2001), a collection of material from the journal Public Culture (U Chicago Press). His introductory chapter is a marvel of interesting things, among which I'll quote just a few:

The academy (especially in the United States) has found in globalization an object around which to conduct its special internal quarrels about such issues as representation, recognition, the 'end' of history, the specters of capital (and of comparison), and a host of others. These debates, which still set the standard of value for the global professoriate, nevertheless have an increasingly parochial quality. (2-3)

It has now become something of a truism that we are functioning in a world fundamentally characterized by objects in motion. These objects include ideas and ideologies, people and goods, images and messages, technologies and techniques. This is a world of flows. It is also, of course, a world of structures, organizations, and other stable social forms. But the apparent stabilities that we see are, under close examination, usually our devices for handling objects characterized by motion... The various flows we see --of objects, persons, images and discourses-- are not coeval, convergent, isomorphic, or spatially consistent. They are in... relations of disjuncture. By this I mean that the paths or vectors taken by these kinds of things have different speeds, axes, points of origin and termination, and varied relationships to institutional structures in different regions, nations, or societies. Further, these disjunctures themselves precipitate various kinds of problems and frictions in different local situations. Indeed, it is the disjunctures between the various vectors characterizing this world-in-motion that produce fundamental problems of livelihood, equity, suffering, justice, and government. (5-6)

...globalization --in this perspective a cover term for a world of disjunctive flows-- produces problems that manifest themselves in intensely local forms but have contexts that are anything but local. (6)

As scholars concerned with localities, circulation, and comparison, we need to make a decisive shift away from what we may call 'trait' geographies to what we could call 'process' geographies. Much traditional thinking about 'areas' has been driven by conceptions of geographical, civilizational, and cultural coherence that rely on some sort of trait list --of values, languages, material practices, ecological adaptations, marriage patterns and the like. However sophisticated these approaches, they tend to see 'areas' as relatively immobile aggregates of traits, with more or less durable historical boundaries and with a unity composed or more or less enduring properties... In contrast, we need an architecture for area studies that is based on process geographies and sees significant areas of human organization as precipitates of various kinds of action, interaction, and motion --trade, travel, pilgrimage, warfare, proselytization, colonization, exile, and the like... Put more simply, the large regions that dominate our current maps for area studies are not permanent geographical facts. They are problematic heuristic devices for the study of global geographic and cultural processes. Regions are best viewed as initial contexts for themes that generate variable geographies, rather than as fixed geographies maked by pregiven themes. (7-8)

There is of course a vast technical literature in the history and philosophy of science about verifiability, replicability, falsifiability, and the transparency of research protocols. All of these criteria are intended to eliminate the virtuoso technique, the random flash, the generalist's epiphany, and other private sources of confidence... (12)

For most researchers, the trick is how to choose theories, define frameworks, ask questions, and design methods that are most likely to produce research with a plausible shelf life. Too grand a framework or too large a set of questions and the research is likely not to be funded, much less to produce the ideal shelf life. Too myopic a framework, too detailed a set of questions, and the research is likely to be dismissed by funders as trivial, and even when it is funded, to sink without a bubble in the ocean of professional citations. (13)

8 Oct
A lot of time away from the machine, so I'll transcribe from the notebook and various scraps of paper.

NELINET Digital Reality III conference at Bentley College included a number of things for me, though only a few of the speakers had things to say that were of immediate relevance. The Harvard historian (Ulrich) was an interesting case of a not-tech-savvy person who had in fact got the message, and managed to have a bunch of grad students to do a Web site for her course in 'Pursuits of Happiness' in 18th century North America, and to realize her ideas. The most striking bit was a two-frame page, the lower and smaller window with a set of teapots (presumably more than 50), and buttons in the upper frame allowing the user to display the pots by material, or by date. Each pot's details could be seen in the upper frame by clicking on its image in the lower. Nothing all that fancy, but I don't think I've seen such a thing before, and the real point is that the presentation lets the user do something creative with the items in the collection. This exemplifies what I summarized thus:

A major issue with digital collections is getting people to see their utility, but this has to go beyond viewing, beyond the passive, and connect up with something for users to do, something that BUILDS on what's seen...

A common thing I hear in many places: the resistance of faculty to the digital world. To counter this, I'm more and more convinced, it's necessary to do R&D that shows what can be done, that proselytizes among the recalcitrant, and that makes it possible to build something

Among URLs worth taking a closer look at: dohistory.org (see the Martha Ballard diary and the various things one can do with its text), www.common-place.org (an online journal of early American history and culture), and do a search at Harvard for ulrich pursuits of happiness (unfortunately the Tea Museum requires a password, which I have in the notebook). Look also for Maine Memory Network.

Another thing mentioned by a couple of presenters was "life cycle" of digital information, though just what they meant wasn't all that clear (creation, dissemination, use, preservation). Mentioned (and I need to google it) was 'Interspace', as something parallel to Open Archives Initiative. Pew Internet American Life Project "The Internet goes to College". See coloradodigital.coalliance.org for a very nice image archive, drawing upon many suppliers and using Dublin Core --a good example of putting together disparate collections, made with various different software (they build crosswalks to DC). The notion of "resource discovery tools" was mentioned, and they were said not to require authority control --the mandatory elements of DC are a reduced set, to facilitate access. See www.imls.gov/scripts/text.cgi?/pubs/forumframewk.htm and see Heritage Colorado website for more on collaboration by quite varied range of participants. See cdpheritage.org (soon) for the Colorado Digitization Project.

A description of how WGBH is handing its information universe was surprisingly interesting, given how little attention I've generally paid to that medium. The point is that the system they've devised vastly increases the utility of the information they have, and reduces duplication of effort and storage and versions. Again, "life-cycle management" came up as a term, and what the presenter was describing was "enterprise-wide digital asset management", which is one of those things that liberal arts colleges have yet to recognize as a possibility or responsibility. Another phrase: Just For Me, Just In Time to describe an emergent model for delivery of digital content from WGBH archives.

The man from OCLC had a bunch of things to show that are under development, in the line of helping people to digitize and manage what they have. A "Digital and Preservation Co-op" has tool kits built on Contentdm software (see contentdm.com/customers). See also manta.colostate.edu/posters and www.lib.utah.edu/digital/sanborn. And another is www.uk.olivesoftware.com for a British Library pilot site with some newspapers (search smithson and vicar's divorce).

9 Oct
Some books to check on and order if we don't have:

Forman, RTT Land mosaics (CUP 0521479800)
Morin, Edgar Homeland Earth (Hampton Press 1572732482)
Langstaff, PH The communications toolkit (MIT)
The world economy: a millennial perspective (9264186085)
Harvey, David The condition of postmodernity
Spatial technology and archaeology (0415246407)
Using computers in archaeology (0767417356)

I seem to make repeated efforts to summarize to myself what my aims and intentions are in these visits, but the polyvalence makes it difficult to answer succinctly when somebody asks what I'm doing. Here's another version, written down as I walked from Simmons to Harvard yesterday:

I'm interested in seeing the progress toward integration of libraries and IT in the context of teaching... the NEXUS of libraries, IT, teaching-and-learning in an emerging world of digital resources. We at W&L have to do some things differently, but what they are, how to organize them, and how to put new structures into motion is less than completely clear or obvious. It's not a foregone conclusion that these players can work on common problems --that the several cultures can succeed as collaborators.

Digital Assets Management is barely on the W&L screens, but will come to salience in the next five years --materials like image collections are clearly the beginning. The bigger and more pressing problem than devising an institution-wide scheme for DAM is HOW to encourage more and better use of existing digital resources, actual and potential, in teaching and learning. Sara Amato says that at Bowdoin the problem is too much demand from faculty; my perception is that there's relatively little demand from W&L faculty, largely because they don't have much in the way of ideas about their own materials.

I think we need more of the Information resources oriented to proactive/evangelical creation of links between t&l and digital resources, more partnerships with teaching faculty to identify and develop what's needed. How do we free, motivate, direct, and reward the implied revolution? What can we try that's new? We want cost-effective innovations that can be seen to make a difference, which I think of as Apps. Librarians are likely to say that they don't have TIME... so how can we change those time demands? Seems that reconfiguring the workload is the only way in, and that the RefDesk is really the only point of flexibility. The ideal to strive for is TEAMS: faculty, library, IT and student ...working on PROJECTS (proposal could come from any of those 4 constituencies) to BUILD a RESOURCE for a course, something enduring.

I realize that one of my recurring problems is the separation of personal and institutional agendas. What I'm thinking about is either very simple or very difficult. As a personal agenda it seems simple: read, write, think, talk... continue to build the complex edifice of what I know, what I'm learning about, what I think is interesting. That leads me to a great variety of books and other crystallizations of information, many of which I would happily share with others --students, colleagues, people out on the Web, etc. That model of how to conduct one's life, what to do with one's attention and energies has been with me as long as I can remember, and it summarizes what I'm happiest doing. I consider it 'simple' because I know how to do it. (aside: it's interesting to think back on the evolution of how I've kept track, from little books in Sarawak to 5x8 cards, papers in file folders, field notes, journal entries... and on to various hyperlinkable electronic texts. The question for everybody: ?how do you keep track of what you read? how do you retrieve what you need to? Everybody has to evolve a system, using available technologies, to suit their own [evolving] needs).

11 Oct
Extremely useful days at Williams. A few books, before I forget to note them:

Cowen, T Creative destruction Princeton UP 0691090165
Kumar, A Passport photos U Calif Press 0520218175
Mignolo, WD Local histories/global designs Princeton UP 0691001405
Sassen, S Global networks, linked cities Routledge 0415931630

And some software packages to find out more about, from Sharron Macklin:

dbmscopy is a filtering utility to handle data in just about any format (Excel, SPSS, etc) and allow you to make changes (rename columns, change type, etc) and then export in another format. $700 or so for one floating license.

ENVI for remote sensing, which Williams gets via Keck, at about $2500/year for 25 seats

EnhancedMrSID encoder. for $1500 or so, for managing hi-res images (ArcGIS version has 50 million pixel max; the Enhanced has 500 million and mosaicing; Sharron notes that it's been very valuable with art images: zoom in to brush strokes, cracks in paint.... a wavelet compression algorithm)

...and in the hardware line: a roll scanner, to make it possible to scan the wealth of large-format paper. Theirs is a Contex FSC3010 Full Scale Color Scanner, attached to a machine with 1/2 gig of RAM... about 15K, but Sharron says it's worth its weight in gold...

Some of the bits: David Pilachowski described the organizational structures of library and OIT, both of which have 'advisory committees' as part of governance structure, chaired by faculty, with Provost or designee included, and he and Dinny Taylor of OIT sit on each other's. This body handles a lot of the budget process, far beyond an advisory faculty library committee.

Some structural tensions are pretty much epidemic: 'Netsys' and OIT have long histories of distrust and miscommunication, and this tendency needs to be recognized and addressed. In related issue, the 'GIS guy' is expected by manager to do a lot of other software, and not authorized to teach except as adjunct to Faculty.

Sharron has a CD-based (?) tutorial for basic GIS; users copy datasets to specific places and come back to talk about projects once they've gone through the basic components.

The most convincing pitch for GIS: the linkage between data visualization and decision making is what we're trying to integrate into the educational process that intends to create effective managers and good decision makers. These skills are applicable in just about any setting. To a considerable degree, visualization (in many forms) seems a key to intergenerational communication,

There's a great need for generalists to guide students --and that's a good part of what reference librarians are and do. It's also an important facet of what OIT people do in their f2f encounters.

There was a GIS committee with wide representation, but dissolved by the Provost --and without the offical stature of a faculty committee, not very visible.

GIS course at the 200 level, with followup: early exposure helps to build the uses and applicabilities

So many digital products really NEED a Guru to support developmental use, and make optimal use of faculty time. Without a 'template' for faculty to plug into, the upfront time costs of learning new products are enormous and prohibitive.

Williams has a lot of action with video, and is now moving to standardization with FinalCut Pro.

Libraries need to make the step from where are the data and resources to involvement in what to do with what's found, especially as collections extend beyond the traditional media and include more and more digital information. Often the pathway to 'what to do with' will be by collaboration with IT, but library generalists will almost inevitably have increasingly consultative roles with faculty and students: librarians are the information professionals.

I'm not sure just how to expand this to what it needs to be (in re: Digital South), but some elements for inclusion are: we need to see GIS as part of an integrated development of electronic teaching and learning and Information Management resources. I think I see three prongs: (1) familiarization --and this is where ArcIMS comes into play; (2) training and project development (the means and process seem pretty clear); (3) information management --as an integral part of institution-wide (and potentially consortial) Digital Assets Management strategy. These three prongs pose some clear challenges for libraries, for IT organizations, and for teaching faculty, and require (a) personnel with appropriate skills and dedicated time to support R&D and projects, (b) hardware, software and space to accomplish/implement, (c) data, to be purchased, managed, stored and served.

The single BEST thing we could do to build interest in GIS (show its possibilities, etc) is to develop a suite of ArcIMS and other linked Web-based tools. One effect would be to support potential users who are not ready to make the substantial investment in learning GIS themselves, but have spatial data to use instructionally. There's a HUGE need for an ArcIMS workshop for IT people, and likewise for some utilities and pathfinders for implementing projects in ArcIMS.

The package of workshops and working groups on GIS is pretty clearly worked out, and the partnerting of IT/faculty/student/[and I'll add librarian] is potentially an excellent way to proceed. BUT this doesn't address the necessity of having a 'GIS guy' with the skills needed to support expansion of campus GIS. A 'GIS intern' MAY be the way to accomplish this.

The Digital South has its origin in an effort to develop and promulgate GIS within ACS, but it might be easier to sell to a broader public as a multimedia idea, upon which we'll build a strong GIS presence. The point is to make access to institutions' DIGITAL [and digitizable] collections easier, to make those resources MORE available to teachers and learners and the general public. The image of a Digital South that serves as a virtual library to link collections that reflect the environs of the 17-odd institutions is a very powerful one. This CAN be a ...something... that serves as a resource for teaching, and that extends the reach of each campus into its own hinterland. Much of the present need is for worked examples, templates, development of solutions to generic problems.

14 Oct
from Manuel De Landa A thousand years of nonlinear history (1997):

...certain combinations will display emergent properties, that is, properties of the combination as a whole which are more than the sum of its individual properties. These emergent (or 'synergistic') properties belong the the interactions between the parts, so it follows that a top-down analytical approach that begins with the whole and dissects it into its constituent parts (an ecosystem into species, a society into institutions), is bound to miss precisely those properties. In other words, analyzing a whole into parts and then attempting to model it by adding up the components will fail to capture any property that emerged from complex interactions, since the effect of the latter may be multiplicative (e.g., mutual enhancement) and not just additive. (17-18)

17 Oct
from Brown and Duguid The social life of information:

...some of the people driving us all hard into the future on the back of new technologies appear to assume that if we all focus hard enough on information, then we will get where we want to go most directly. This central focus inevitably pushes aside all the fuzzy stuff that lies around the edges --context, background, history, common knowledge, social resources. But this stuff around the edges is not as irrelevant as it may seem. It provides valuable balance and perspective. It holds alternatives, offers breadth of vision, and indicates choices. It helps clarify purpose and support meaning. Indeed, ultimately it is only with the help of what lies beyond it that any sense can be made of the information that absorbs so much attention. (1-2)
My emphasis on information management as evolving skill is situated right in the middle of that "fuzzy stuff": to make sense of what we collect, we have to be able to make connections, build and communicate summaries, and get a sense of perspective on what we know and don't know. We also have to develop strategies and procedures to cope with the realities of a world awash in digital information, a substantial part of which is not worth our attention (Brown and Duguid say that "digital technologies currently produce between one and two exabytes per year" [citing Lyman and Varian 2000]). We have to be able to think about and visualize the fluid structures that bind together what we know, what we believe, what we suppose or hypothesize; we have to develop the skills to integrate new information, to rethink and refigure on the basis of what we learn; we have to evolve personal strategies that work for us.

More from Brown and Duguid:

People treat information as a self-contained substance. It is something that people pick up, possess, pass around, put in a database, lose, find, write down, accumulate, count, compare, and so forth. Knowledge, by contrast, doesn't take as kindly to ideas of shipping, receiving, and quantification. It is hard to pick up and hard to transfer. You might expect, for example, someone to send you or point you to the information they have, but not to the knowledge they have... Knowledge is something we digest rather than merely hold. It entails the knower's understanding and some degree of commitment... (120)

Another essential book: Bowker and Star Sorting Things Out: classification and its consequences (MIT Press 1999)

An everlasting, undying question: how to get people to read things that seem important to me? How to get their attention? Always the problem in courses, but really just as much a difficulty with colleagues. I'm no closer to solving it.

From Allen Kurzweil A Case of Curiosities:

...a thought would pop up and the Abbé would ask, "What do you make of it?" Claude would be forced to reply. Discussion would lead to digression, digression to distraction; distraction, in turn, might provoke diversion or lead as far as discovery. The Abbé would then say, "That, my young friend, is the whimsy of the muse." (58)

18 Oct
I wrote a summary of current thoughts as a message to Bryan Alexander, then gathered some basic materials on Digital Asset Management, including the following URLs:

A fragment:
Even on campuses where library and IT are formally one organization, I have seen little evidence of close collaboration between librarians and IT personnel; each realm has established agendas and responsibilities. They are not so much hostile as mutually uncomprehending, and I have seen little curiosity about each other's realms and issues. This may develop when librarians and IT people are in close proximity (as in Wellesley's library redesign, or [presumably] the new library at Middlebury), but in general the groups have not made common cause.

25 October
As a general rule, the worlds of libraries and IT are minimally connected; their practitioners recognize few common objectives, and express little interest in each other's tools and resources. There are some stunning counterexamples, in which collaborations have been fomented and supported. Important among those is the Mellon-funded Talking Toward Technopedagogy

Anybody concerned with this realm should take a fresh look at a couple of the documents from


specifically under the PUBLICATION tab:
"Liberal Arts Education in the New Millennium: Beyond Information Literacy and Instructional Technology" an article written by Elliott Shore for the Fall 2001 issue of Moveable Type: The Newsletter of the Mark O. Hatfield Library, Willamette University.
"Reimagining Professional Identities: A Reflection on Collaboration and Techno-Pedagogy" a paper written by Jonathan T. Church, Departments of Sociology and Anthropology, Arcadia University (used to be Beaver College) These are both VERY much items that ought to be in whatever discourse is developing about the possible/proper relationships among library, ITG, teaching faculty, both for ourselves at W&L and more generally. Shore's piece might well have been written by any of us.

Mount Holyoke has much of interest, and www.mtholyoke.edu/go/training is a good place to get a summary of the support infrastructure, which makes effective use of students as Web technologists and IT consultants --learning to BE teachers by doing workshops for students. The IT liaison personnel have *advanced degrees and *teaching experience (5 of them for about 200 faculty)

...leverage software investment by artful combination of applications...

30 Oct
A lot has gone into my notebook but not onto the Notebook... including a lot of links. A bit of catchup is in order, while I'm ensconsed at Dartmouth with good wireless connectivity. A bit random, but get 'em in and then sort 'em out:

Some bits from scraps of paper:

Some of the elements/themes in what I'm doing:
Charting courses for digital futures
Networking information, managing digital assets,
building classroom collaborations
widening the palette of teaching media
bringing the active Web to teaching and learning

I've heard it said by several people that librarians are afraid they're being left behind, or becoming obsolete, or that they're the least willing to consider changing what they do and how they do it. Some are clearly not in that mode, but at least some are: they see themselves as guardians of paper, of real information, of an important intellectual tradition that new technologies don't respect. "Great resistance to change of the printed text". Come out of traditions, constrained by worldviews... "they don't take us seriously, they don't see what we do..." And librarians don't have a patent on "chip on the shoulder" about what they're doing, nor on being controlling whenever possible

Communication is the obvious essential, and it seems to take a year or two for people in different groups to start to see and have sympathy for the ways each other works. "not quite enough room for that kind of conversation yet"

Whose responsibility does it seem to be to create digital content? Many would say it's the faculty. Librarians may or may not be seen as having responsibility for management of digital information, depending on its format and/or content: electronic journals, certainly in the library's realm, and ditto electronic books. Datasets and images and GIS data... only a minority sees those as the natural material of libraries --or sees libraries as expanding their collections to take in those media, and all the problems that come with them.

What are the relations of librarians to statistical software? Who should support its use and development, in and out of the classroom? ...especially when the software is used as a viewer for digital assets like datasets in .xls format... or troublesome data that requires massage to be useable in a particular software environment? Few librarians see that as their job.

Some very important texts have crossed my path, things that make SENSE, or help to make sense, of what I see. Putting them before people seems an essential part of what I shouold be doing, but they, like the things I write myself, are only effective if they are read.

The question of to whom I am speaking, and with what mandate, is always in the background, but the only thing for me to do is to define however I please --I don't think anybody is likely to tell me to butt out.

I have several writing assignments, including an article for the NITLE News, a summary for ACS of GIS (the MITC model is a reasonable example), the Digital South piece... and perhaps others that have pretty clear audiences.

The several groups need to understand each other's problems, work on collaborative projects to develop new resources (though there aren't nearly enough content examples of this, and those I've seen are pretty much prof-oriented and course-oriented --a couple people have pointed out that these don't scale verfy well, and that they are often pretty intensive use of support resources). Wellesley, Middlebury and Mt Holyoke seem to be building the wherewithal to encourage this. We need to break out of prof/course, into more general territory, especially in the guerilla objectives of transcending disciplinary boundaries and building interdisciplinary tools and support structures.

Learning Objects really need clearer explication. Bryan and I combined our thoughts to characterize them as Active and as pushing back at users --he cited the visual Tokamak (from Cornell perhaps?) that I saw at the American Chemical Society meetings, and I added the change-parameters-and-redraw

Very interesting how Dartmouth handles wireless access --nice clear handouts. And indeed a number of institutions give much better facilities to the wander-in public, like Web access without login.

Umm el Madayan 0395659671
Duberman Black Mountain 0393309533

Task groups meet to define "strategic directions"; next step is for them to define and articulate "what organizationally precludes from going in the strategic direction?"

31 Oct
On barriers to innovation:

Lessig (The Future of Ideas [2001:6]) Machiavelli:
Innovation makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old regime, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new. Their support is indifferent partly from fear and partly because they are generally incredulous, never really trusting new things unless they have tested them by experience. (pg 17 in the Norton edition)

Engelbart (Improving our ability to improve) takes a slightly different tack in describing the limitations of markets in coping with innovation:

...markets do a bad job at assessing the value of innovation when that innovation is so new that it will actually rearrange the structure of the markets...

institutions and individuals can take big steps forward by simply addressing the biases that are pushing innovation toward lowest common denominator solutions and toward simple continuation down roads that we already understand...

Some other especially clear articulation of problem and approach from Engelbart:

As they explore, they constantly exchange information about what they are learning. The goal is to maximize overall progress by exchanging important information as the different groups proceed. What this means, in practice, is that the dialog between the people working toward pursuit of the goal is often just as important as the end result of the research. Often, it is what a team learns in the course of the exploration that ultimately opens up breakthrough results.

...the key to building a more powerful capability infrastructure lies in expanding the channels and modes of communication --not simplifying them.

Quite a few of the elements of a college are essentially legacy systems: the incumbents carry on the practices of their predecessors because they work, they accomplish the organizational goals tolerably well, and they have the weight of tradition and precedent behind them. They are trodden paths, with relatively few surprises and challenges. But they aren't the only ways to accomplish the goals, still less to deal with environmental changes that call for amendment and redirection of organizational goals. Legacy systems have the advantage of being 'dependable': their inhabitants/keepers/priesthoods know how to tend them, know the procedures and protocols and the necessary incantations.

4 November
Summary of library and computing relationships took up the weekend, but I'm reasonably pleased with it as a document. It also links a weblet on Information Commons, and I'm considering putting together something about "social life of local information" and its part in the process of figuring out how that realm ought to be fostered at W&L. Positive responses from Bryan, John Stuckey, and Susan Perry make me feel that I'm doing something worthwhile.

5 Nov
Response to Dean's Priorities memo

7 Nov
A substantial amount of time on ACS GIS summary with various digressions into digital library issues, notably MIT's release of DSpace ("A sustainable solution for institutional digital asset services" --see Functionality and Technology and Architecture and source code download and Report of the DSpace Transition Planning Group to the MIT Libraries [--and added 20/i 2003: DSpace An Open Source Dynamic Digital Repository from D-Lib Magazine, Jan 2003]) )

Another piece: OCKHAM at Emory, Martin Halbert's brainchild. See DLF summary.

The familiar feeling of being on the screaming edge...

11 Nov
some e-mail fragments on information ecology and information commons

13 Nov
Some stuff on statistical consultants, and Icelandic DNA evidence

from Nardi and O'Day Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart (MIT Press 1999)

For all our readers, what we hope to accomplish is a shift in perception... (15)

The issue is not whether we will use technologies, but which we will choose and whether we will use them well. The challenge now is to introduce some critical sensibilities into our evaluation and use of technology, and beyond that, to make a real impact on the kinds of technology that will be available to us in the future. (22)

It is dangerous, disempowering, and self-limiting to stick our heads in the sand and pretend it [technology] will go away if we don't look. (23)

In our research studies, we have seen examples of responsible, informed, engaged interactions among people and advanced information technologies. We think of the settings where we have seen these interactions as flourishing information ecologies. (24)

...technologies are not neutral --at the very least, they invoke in us certain kinds of responses. These responses are not always pleasurable or advertised features of the technology, but they belong to that technology nevertheless. They are intrinsic features, not results that arise incidentally from use. (38)

When we add new technologies to our own information ecologies, we sometimes try to work in the absence of essential keystone species. Often such species are skilled people whose presence is necessary to support the effective use of technology. (53)

Mediators --people who build bridges across institutional boundaries and translate across disciplines-- are a keystone species in information ecologies. Ironically, their contributions are often unofficial, unrecognized, and seemingly peripheral to the most obvious productive functions of the workplace. Although the success of new tools may rely on the facilitation of mediators who can shape the tools to fit local circumstances, technology is too often designed and introduced without regard to the roles these people play. (54)

Healthy information ecologies are characterized by technology use in a social matrix consisting of services, norms, and conventions. These establish appropriate usage, core values, support, and a growth path for users that helps them become more competent with technology over time if they so choose. These social practices are an important element of diversity in an information ecology, providing not just the actual technologies themselves, but ways to use them. (67)

Information ecologies are systems of parts that fit together well --and the idea of "fit" must be understood in terms of social values and policies, as well as tools and activities. If the practices that evolve in a sociotechnical system are efficient and productive but fail to uphold the ideals or ethics of the people involved, the system will be subject to considerable stress. (68)

Paying attention means deliberately evaluating whether a practice or technology has merit, and if so, what this merit consists of --what does it mean within a particular information ecology? It is tremendously valuable to wonder about why things are the way they are. It is even more valuable to reflect aloud about what has been noticed so that others can take part in the discussion. (69)

Who are gardeners? They are people who like to tinker with computers. They learn the software a little better than everyone else around the office, they're often good at configuring hardware. and they troubleshoot and solve problems when others are stumped. Gardeners like to help other people with technical tasks, as well as learn about computational things on their own. (140)

Gardeners are people who can translate concepts and mechanisms back and forth between the domain of the work and the technology itself. They occupy a special niche in information ecologies, because they bridge the specifics of the domain, with its unique problems and challenges, and the capabilities of the tools used in the domain... They are insiders --active professionals... Gardeners know the work, and they know their fellow workers and their problems and frustrations. Gardeners work right alongside everyone else, performing many duties in addition to gardening. This gives them the ability to respond to local needs with sensitivity and understanding. (141)

In general, gardeners take on the responsibility of customizing software tools for local conditions and assisting their co-workers in using the tools. (141)

Two things to think about, from the November Technology Review, which exemplify what ISN'T getting into "liberal education" nearly enough --or maybe at all?:

cartograms (a story about AT&T software which "provide[s] a visual sense of geographic information by distorting it in proportion to a key variable" --see CartoDraw: a fast algorithm, and "Seeing" Numbers Helps Believing for a gentler introduction), and

backlinking (especially in the context of blogging):

Instead of pointing readers only to sources for the item they have just read, backlinks also point to newer material that item inspired, making it easy to follow a path through the Web's marketplace of ideas. And because they can be updated automatically to reflect new incoming links, backlinks turn static Web pages into active hubs of related information... (pg. 32)
Mentions Chris Wenham's Disenchanted "...a program that puts backlinks at the end of each article, with the most-used links listed first" (http://www.disenchanted.com/dis/linkback.html)(and http://www.disenchanted.com/dis/technology/xanadu.html). See also the blogging package Moveable Type, with a TrackBack feature. See also Backlinking Through Blogspace With Bookmarklets (Robert J. Seymour, Jr.)

In google, link: with a Web address

Some more cartogram and related:

Mapping the Network Society

Milestones in the history of thematic cartography, statistical graphics, and data visualization Michael Friendly and Daniel

What's New on The Geography of Cyberspace Directory from http://www.cybergeography.org/

How does anybody find the time to read the important stuff, digest it, talk with people who could use the perspectives contained in what's read, blog to convey to interested others... there's just so much in what I've been looking at today. The Icelandic genetics stuff implies so much that could be used in the AJHG (by biology? by anthropology?), and the backlinking is a whole new dimension to active use of the Web (somehow ties to citation indexing too, though I'm a bit too tired at the end of the day to figure it all out).

14 Nov
This from Tech Review, Nov 2001:

Today's World Wide Web is fundamentally a publishing medium—a place to store and share images and text. Adding semantics will radically change the nature of the Web—from a place where information is merely displayed to one where it is interpreted, exchanged and processed. Semantic-enabled search agents will be able to collect machine-readable data from diverse sources, process it and infer new facts. Programs that weren't made to be compatible with each other will share previously unmixable data. In other words, the ultimate goal of the Semantic Web is to give users near omniscience over the vast resources of the Internet, turning the millions of existing database islands into a single gigantic database Pangea.... You can't have a Semantic Web without metadata, but metadata alone won't suffice. The metadata in Web pages will have to be linked to special documents that define metadata terms and the relationship between terms. These sets of shared concepts and their interconnections are called "ontologies"... (Mark Frauenfelder)
(it's here as a pdf). Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a term I should have comprehended long e'er now... ditto OCLC Connexion, which is where CORC has wandered...

...and once again the question: HOW is all of this getting into/to get into teaching and learning in the liberal arts context? My answer, unsatisfactory though it is, is via daring experimental work by people "like me" who want to explore the edges. The closest I've come to a venue for such work is the CompSci courses with Tom Whaley, though there's a lot that could be incorporated into the other courses I teach, if I could just see how to do it without making learning the technology the objective. Some other links:

An RDF schema for topic maps (Lars Marius Garshol)

Dave Beckett's Resource Description Framework (RDF) Resource Guide

An Introduction to the Resource Description Framework (Eric Miller, D-Lib May 1998)

overview from coverpages.org

Serious Instructional Technology in Search of Quality

"...a conference on Electronic Portfolios and student learning , which, as you think about it, is really about the same thing, i.e. making the artifacts of the learning process visible..." (David Carter-Tod)
the topic of weblogs in education (my specific question was whether the portal software our institution is adopting supported RSS). Not surprising that the knee-jerk reaction my comment produced was the comment that weblogs are mostly knee-jerk reactions, not the reflective writing we hope our students aspire to. So I'm writing my response here, as a knee-jerk reaction to the day's events. :) In retrospect I should have qualified by comments by referring to weblogs as "structured journals" or some such, to avoid the negative connotations of sites devoted exclusively to the psychological well-being of one's pet cat. (He's doing fine, by the way...trying to get more sleep.)

Personal knowledge publishing and its uses in research (October 1st, 2002 Sébastien Paquet , Université de Montréal) (see seblogging)

What's Info Got to Do With It? And what is the Web, really? (David Weinberger November 6, 2002 — "I'm sick of hearing about information...")

Thing is, we need places to PUT things, means to find them again, ways to reorganize and redeploy. Development and dissemination of the wherewithal are part of teaching and learning.

Sarah Lohnes of CET on a blogging workshop

Knowledge Work as Craft Work (Jim McGee April 2002)

Manila (“...an Internet server application that allows groups of writers, designers and graphics people to manage full-featured, high performance Web sites through an easy-to-use browser interface...")

I found Annotea sometime last spring, I think, but lost it again. Part of Amaya

The “comment that weblogs are mostly knee-jerk reactions, not the reflective writing we hope our students aspire to" really misses the point that a weblog is one of a number of tools, NOT a replacement for “reflective writing" but a means to track process, “making the artifacts of the learning process visible". The original question about the courseware supporting RSS ... openwiki

google Metadata pages...

About the Open Directory Project

Gurteen’s RSS Resources (see intro)

Bryan’s review of Lessig

oh jeez: warchalking... who knew? answer: Bryan did...
from Top issues facing academic libraries A report of the Focus on the Future Task Force by W. Lee Hisle (C&RL News) :
Librarians believe that it is essential that we emphasize information literacy instruction and the importance of the teaching role of librarians. We must find ways to promote the values, expertise, and leadership of the profession throughout the campus to ensure appreciation for the roles librarians do and can play. Though access to information is increasingly decentralized, and computer labs now compete with libraries as campus gathering points, librarians must demonstrate to the campus community that the library remains central to academic effort... The rise of the Web as the first choice for student and faculty researchers represents a departure from traditional scholarly research patterns.
My take: “roles librarians ...can play" and “teaching role of librarians" are both highly relevant: I read this as a call for more co-teaching, more involvement for librarians in courses beyond the “information literacy" ho-hum. A lot more productive in the long run than sitting on the Ref Desk waiting for not much to happen. I think we do have to participate in “driving the evolution" of teaching and learning

Two Cultures: A Social History of the Distributed Library Initiative at MIT (Nina Davis-Millis and Thomas Owens)

...a basic formulation of the respective strengths of the two organizations: The libraries determine content; IS provides infrastructure. On one side, the libraries were organizationally and intellectually better suited for judging the content of networked information—they had established methods for keeping current with the curriculum, for monitoring trends in campus research, and for understanding the goals of scholarly communication. On the other side, IS was organizationally and intellectually prepared to provide the expertise and tools required for operating and maintaining the infrastructure to deliver the information the libraries selected. Moreover, IS could integrate the delivery of this information into the MIT computing environment.

It became clear, however, that the provision of substantial amounts of networked information would require more effort than either organization was then prepared to supply on its own....

The way MIT and its people do research and pursue education will be revolutionized by enriched access to all forms of information at their fingertips. Sitting at a workstation in the classroom or laboratory, in the sorority, or in the airplane, anyone can retrieve, manipulate, interpret, and integrate information into their personal knowledge banks. They can easily move among personal, on-campus, and worldwide resources to find, evaluate, sort, and store information. MIT students, researchers, educators, and administrators, freed from the drudgery of information management, are now better able to work together in putting that information to use in the advancement of humanity. (1993 vision statement)
it is fair to say that IS and the libraries have developed a fruitful, mutually respectful working relationship. From the beginning, both IS and the libraries consciously acknowledged the cultural differences of the two organizations while focusing on common goals. Although we always emphasized each other’s professional expertise and distinct areas of competence, we also fostered “technology transfer" between the two organizations. Our plan was not to have one group adopt the culture and methodologies of the other but, rather, to let a third culture evolve out of shared philosophies and objectives.

Indeed, we consider that the awareness of cultural differences between the two constituencies, together with the decision to invest staff time in exploring them (as well as professional similarities), has been a key element in the success of the partnership. Another salient factor has been the active participation of upper-level administrators from both units in setting goals and priorities, concurrent with the participation of frontline staff in the actual design and delivery of services. These considerations, both formal and informal, have enabled groups in each organization to share their respective expertise, skills, and values.

A brief review of the literature on collaboration between academic libraries and campus computing organizations provides a broader perspective on how typical our experiences may be. In this literature, a great deal of analysis has been done on the pros and cons of merging such units. However, relatively little attention has been paid to the benefits of sharing cultures, or even to descriptions of the respective professional cultures.

...Ironically, each unit saw the other as being at an advantage politically. The libraries were concerned that they would be absorbed and controlled by IS which, in turn, feared that the libraries had deeper service contacts across campus and could build powerful alliances demanding unsustainable services. Picking up on the “marriage" metaphor, Anderson and McMillan agreed that their organizations saw the possibility that the partnership would be a “deadly embrace" as each tried to leverage resources from the other while retaining complete control—ending with both parties squandering staff and financial capital on fruitless projects. To avoid that, they recognized that some kind of collaborative model would have to be developed. As they searched for the right model, they kept the cultural differences constantly in mind.

The initial focus was actually on defining the scope of the partnership; awareness of each other’s organizational structure, and then the respective professional cultures, followed as the collaboration took shape. McMillan and Anderson arranged high-level meetings that avoided discussions about specific projects but, instead, focused on sharing organizational goals and values: What does your organization wish to accomplish, and what is important to you? The meetings were carefully designed not to raise expectations or to preselect outcomes. Clearly, McDonough’s vision of a possible “pull between vested interests" was perceived in the formative stages of the libraries–IS partnership. The great extent to which this pull was overcome can be attributed to all parties having taken the time necessary to accommodate one another’s organizational frameworks and to explain decisions in one another’s terms. With the top management in the two organizations being committed to collaborative dialogue, the front-line staff who worked on specific products experienced a rich, creative tension rather than a clash of cultures.

...Despite that fundamental difference in outlook, the librarians valued certain attributes of their IS colleagues: flexibility and a positive orientation to change, combined with a task orientation and a focus on results. IS participants, in turn, appreciated librarians’ respect for the past and their ability to apply lessons or knowledge from the past to the future. IS participants generally seemed to have gained from joint projects an appreciation of the depth of professional librarianship.

The Digital Library: Without a Soul Can It Be a Library? (Gail McMillan, Director Virginia Tech Digital Library and Archives)
some excerpts:

A library is a fusion of resources in a variety of forms, including services and people supporting the entire life cycle of information beginning with creation, to dissemination and use, through to preservation. A digital library works best when it is an integral part of a library that provides its users with access to information that has been evaluated, organized, and preserved in the most useful formats...

Libraries should be thought of as "information ecologies" ...a system of people, practices, values, and technologies within a particular environment... Information ecologies respond to local environmental changes and local interventions...

We tend to work in a cyclical, organic, and intuitive manner, generally employing less structured methods such as browsing, tracing some footnotes, following some bibliographical references, and consulting colleagues...

...many researchers are answer oriented, not query oriented; they want information, not knowledge and not a lesson in where and how to find information. It is difficult for librarians (and even more so for digital libraries) to get researchers to learn about resources outside of the few that they are comfortable using...

Librarians teach information discrimination through personalized research assistance, guidance, and instruction...

Take the initiative...Don't wait to be asked to participate with faculty... Work with systems designers to improve functionality and make information easy to find. Stop complaining and start talking constructively with system designers. Learn from digital library research. Do not assume that its limited perspective means that its findings are invalid. Take a risk: meet and respond to the changing information environment and commit to improvement. Explore, discover and create new services; give up some control of the known...

The library is an information ecology that adapts to user needs...The new information technologies do not necessitate a new social context that changes the meaning and significance of libraries and librarians.

16 Nov
Thanks to
fosblog, a pointer to publications of Forum for the Future of Higher Education (EDUCAUSE)

...disseminating Forum scholarship on new thinking about learning, teaching, and technology. The publications include 12 collections of summaries and full-length papers presented by academic leaders and scholars at the Forum's annual Aspen Symposium since 1997.

viz: John Seely Brown on Learning in the Digital Age
Woodie Flowers on New Media's Impact on Education Strategies
Diana Laurillard on Rethinking Teaching for the Knowledge Society

...makes me think that there are a number of Conferences I ought to be going to... an odd thought, to be sure.

JS Brown is always good for a clear thought:

is a remarkably social process. In truth, it occurs not as a response to teaching, but rather as a result of a social framework that fosters learning...

When we look at teaching beyond the mere delivery of information, we see a rich picture of learning, one that embraces the social context, resources, background, and history within which information resides...

(Open University) ...moving beyond a curriculum focused on what is known to an emphasis on teaching how one comes to know... Students' active participation with practitioners, working together on common projects, makes them part of the process of creating knowledge...

The Internet and other technologies honor multiple forms of intelligence --be they abstract, textual, visual, musical, social or kinesthetic-- and therein present tremendous opportunities to design new learning environments that enhance the natural ways that humans learn.

We are witnessing a profound blurring of the classical boundaries separating teaching, learning, research, administration, communication, media, and play, all brought about by new technologies. For today's students, ICT [information and communications technology] is not so much a tool as it is a way of life. It's deeply embedded in all aspects of their lives: living and learning are interwoven, and, likewise, they expect their institutional environment to present a seamless web connecting the academic, social, and administrative uses of computing. A framework, or architecture, that unifies these traditionally separate infospheres to produce a new form of a learning ecology --an active place where the virtual and the physical seamlessly and synergistically coexist-- is necessary...

Students are pushing learning into a new dimension; it's a mistake to continue to try to teach them in time-worn ways...


We have begun at last to play with digital technologies as a way of meeting the demands of the digital age, but with an approach still born of the transmission model. The academic community has not redefined what counts as "higher learning" and therefore cannot draft the specification for how the new technology should do anything other than what learning technology has always done: transmit the academic's knowledge to the student. The academic world has called each new technological device --word processing, interactive video, hypertext, multimedia, the Web-- into the service of the transmission model of learning. The potential of the technology to serve a different kind of learning cannot be exploited by an academic community that clings only to what it knows...

What is the difference between a curriculum that teaches what is known and one that teaches how to come to know? Knowledge, even academic knowledge, is not adequately represented as propositional statements but has a historicity that incorporates individuals' previous experiences, their perceptions of the immediate situation, their intentions, and their experiences of discovery, of recognized tensions, of uncertainties, of ambiguties still unresolved. This is not situated learning only, nor discovery learning, nor meta-learning. It comes closer to scholarship as learning. It requires a reflective practicum for the learning process. Buit for that to be possible, university teachers have to renew and develop their model of the learning process well beyond the traditional transmission model. It requires a teaching approach that turns academics themselves into reflective practitioners with respect to their teaching...


"The lecture" is not sacred. We must work harder to understand what it is about being in the same room with another person that helps learning. Whatever that is may be sacred. Computers can help us with much of the rest...

some Sarawak links and Redomoinho (followup on Amazon waterspout news story)

Alexandria Digital Library Gazetteer Server runs from NIMA's GEOnet Names Server...

17 Nov
Yesterday I happened on some material about palm oil, which seems like another commodity that would be eminently worthwhile to gather material on. Malaysia seems to have more than 50% of the world's production, and the news story from Sarawak about replanting the "now-defunct" rubber schemes with oil palm should set off some alarm bells. Palm Oil Uses & Consumer Markets (from pacidunia.com) is a place to begin. Some links collected.

Summary of my various GIS activities (1998-2002)

22 Nov
Very interesting and perhaps highly significant days at Mt Holyoke, Wellesley and Bates. Most of the trails and threads are in the notebook, but I do want to capture a few URLs here so that I can return to them later.

French Lettrisme: Discontinuity and the Nature of the Avant-Garde by David W. Seaman (Published in FLS Discontinuity and Fragmentation in French Literature, Volume XXI. Freeman G. Henry, Ed. Amsterdam & Atlanta: Rodopi, 1994)

google search for 'curtay musicale' (Jean-Paul Curtay)

Among all the forces capable of bewitching spirit, forces which it must both submit to and revolt against -- poetry, painting, spectacles. war, misery, debauchery, revolution, life and its inseparable companion, death -- is it possible to refuse music a place among them, perhaps a very important place?
--Paul Nouge, Music is Dangerous
American Gamelan Institute

25 Nov
Acadia was one of the first universities to require students to have laptops, and to provide faculty with them and expect that they would use them to teach. That was about 6 years ago, and initially about 1/3 of the faculty were more or less eager, 1/3 were ambivalent, and 1/3 were opposed. They began with a small number of students one year, then extended it the next. From what I can gather, there wasn't all that much support for students OR faculty, but it sounds like quite a few have in fact been innovative --quite a few of both groups. From what I hear, the library was NOT part of this, except that activities (help desk and so on) were located in the library. Librarians seem not to have been active in any of the ways I'm used to. Anyway, now people do seem to be using laptops pretty universally. I guess I need to go and see this in action.

www.acadiau.ca/advantage/ is the promo for the program

I trolled through the Website and found little that looked "innovative", certainly nothing in the library. ABsoLUTEly nothing that makes me feel I'm missing something exciting, and lots that casts what I've seen in New England schools in a very bright light indeed.

See Acadia Advantage: Looking Back; [sic!] Looking Forward, The "Acadia Advantage" and a New Vision for Education in Canada (by Marc Cutright and Bryant Griffith) , and some instructions for classroom use

27 Nov
A tour of the AITT facilities and a look around the library discloses some interesting things. The AITT is in the position of needing to support itself by fees for outside training, and from sales of software --and it does a lot of training in schools, etc. This is a very different model from that of the liberal arts college, and everywhere I look there are other evidences of that distance. In libraries and in public spaces, everywhere one looks, students are engaged with their laptops --though it's of course not known doing what. What I have actually seen of apps used by profs isn't revolutionary --lectures in PowerPoint, bullets on the screen-- but the materials are much more available to students than formerly. The students themselves are as they were, perhaps even a step or two less well prepared and less intellectually engaged, by report. There are opportunities for bright students to work on software and course development projects, but continuity is questionable. Many professors have been --well, is it inspired, or is it badgered?-- into developing skills with computers, and a lot of apps have been home-brewed (like the courseware package), but there are apparently issues with support for code written by long-gone student programmers. In the early days of the Sandbox it was quite exciting --bugs fixed by all-night programming and similar extraordinary efforts, and a sense of excitement. In many places one sees the contrast of high-end classroom equipment and worn-out buildings. So in some ways it looks like a lot of progress has been made, and like there's impressive engagement, but it's a matter of what you look at, and how far beneath the surface your eyesight operates. There's a disconnect between intentions and realities that's probably pretty universal... and the atmosphere of scholarship and excitement that's in the air at Bates and Bowdoin and Mount Holyoke and Williams is simply not there at Acadia. Some of it is influenced by the physical plant, the horrible 60s and 70s buildings that didn't work then and are worse now, and some of it is the feeling of faculty that they are overloaded, don't have the time to "do research" or develop computer apps... it is not a happy place. Some of the contrast is a simple matter of money, too: the opulence of the private liberal arts foundation is never clearer than when seen from public institutions. NOTHING makes me wonder for a moment if I did the right thing in leaving, and in fact looking back to some of the 1970s and 80s (and some of the things I managed to do despite the limitations) evokes some nostalgia for how relatively well some of it seemed to work (somehow the spaces seem pokier and more confining than I think I remember). So is Acadia better off for Kelvin's laptop initiative? I have to conclude that it is, overall, and that it was a bold stroke that "worked" as nothing else was likely to. I don't see much that suggests that the institution is prepared or equipped to continue to "innovate" (no evidence of study of the technology, or of the feedback of present to future, or of active work with what's being written and done in the exciting worlds that CET is tapping into and contributing to), but rather that there was a Great Leap from traditional mediocrity and indirection, based upon a specific technology --the laptop-- and that sustaining that into a real refiguration of education is beyond the means and the energies of those I see at work, and in fact beyond the surrounding society as well. The contrast effect of the incredible opulence of the Irving Center is astonishing --if some of that grandiloquence had been put into the not-so-visible infrastructure of the rest of the campus, and into the circumstances of profs and such, more people would probably have been made less unhappy. The levels of Security (even a uniformed concierge at the desk, and electronic door locks) suggest that somebody is worried about somebody else, in ways that I'm quite unused to seeing.

Following on from some of those points as I look at fosblog: see Dimensions and Use of the Scholarly Information Environment (Amy Friedlander --a CLIR report) for the sort of thing that requires to be monitored and read and considered and factored in to developing plans for information infrastructure evolution. Another thing to come back to is the report of an attempt to patent a software package for "study of DNA introns to see whether they represent fractal patterns". And there's a link to Centre Jacques Cartier on The Future of Web Publishing that uses the terms 'cybertexts and hyperreadings' (an article by Denis Bachand --reporting on WebCT survey in Canada). Again, the point is that it needs to be SOMEbody's job to think about these things...

But who does study emergent phenomena? If anything was ever an interdisciplinary subject area, that's surely it. Take a look at Emergence and self-organisation to follow up on this thread.

3 December
Rheingold's Smart Mobs: the next social revolution seems chatty, but beneath the informality lurk some powerful ideas. The first frisson for me comes with his passage on "Reed's Law":

When a network is aimed at broadcasting something of value to individuals, like a television network, the value of services is linear. When the network enables transactions between the individual nodes, the value is squared. When the same network includes ways for the individuals to form groups, the value is exponential:
[quoting Reed] What's important is that the dominant value in a typical network tends to shift from one category to another as the scale of the network increases... scale growth tends to support new categories of "killer apps"... The earliest usage of the Internet was dominated by its role as a terminal network, allowing many terminalks to selectively acces a small number of costly time-sharing hosts. As the Internet grew, much more of the usage and value of the Internet became focused on pairwise exchanges of email messages, files, etc., following Metcalfe's Law [the total value of a network where each node can reach every other node grows with the square of the number of nodes]. And as the Internet started to take off in the early 90s, traffic started to be dominated by newsgroups, user-created mailing lists, special interest web sites, etc., following the exponential GFN [group-forming networks] law... the value and usage of services that scaled by newly dominant scaling laws grew faster. Thus many kinds of transactions and collaboration that had been conducted outside the Internet became absorbed into the growth of the Internet's functions... What's important in a network changes as the network scale shifts. In a network dominated by linear connectivity value growth, "content is king." That is, in such networks, there is a small number of sources (publishers or makers) of content that every user selects from... Where Metcalfe's Law dominates, transactions become central. The stuff that is traded in transactions ...is king. And where the GFN law dominates, the central role is filled by jointly constructed value.
...If the innovation commons is open to many in the future, as it has been in the past, a "cornucopia of the commons" could make it possible for many to benefit. Or those who have concentrated capital in existing infrastructures and corporations might manage to enclose the commons and reserve that power of innovation by technically excluding future innovators. The first battle has already been fought over Napster... (60-61)

On Ockham, a discussion of 5S led me to

Streams, Structures, Spaces, Scenarios, Societies (5S): A Formal Model for Digital Libraries and 5SL ­ A Language for Declarative Specification and Generation of Digital Libraries (Goncalves and Fox 2002)
...and to the thought that we need a working group on digital library development at W&L to keep a finger on that pulse.

And The Shifted Librarian keeps reminding me that somebody ought to be tracking RSS:

Rich Site Summary (RSS) is a form of XML that is used to syndicate content from thousands of Web sites into an aggregated news feed. RSS feeds have begun to attract the attention of those in the fields of content delivery and management. Content from numerous sites can be delivered to one place (an aggregator), saving the precious time of visiting these sites frequently throughout the day. This session covers how to get started in the world of RSS feeds, including a review of the major players in the field, resources to help locate feeds, and what the future will hold for RSS—plus practical advice on how to utilize feeds.

So what am I thinking, three months later?

4 December
Brandeis GIS May 2000 Task Force reports, and GIS Web page

...and an extract from GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS LIBRARIANS OF NEW ENGLAND Minutes of the December 8, 2000 Meeting at Lamont Library, Harvard University:

Ralph welcomed the group and thanked Pam Hays for hosting the meeting. We then introduced ourselves.

Aleda Freeman from MassGIS replaced the scheduled speaker, Paul Nutting, who was unable to attend. Aleda is a programmer at Mass GIS. MassGIS, part of the Massachusetts Office of Environment Affairs, collects and stores digital information. GIS can be used for maps and for data analysis. The MassGIS website currently has information on wetlands, roads, topographic maps, and black and white aerial photographs. They want to gather as much Massachusetts information as possible. Aleda demonstrated the MassGIS web site (www.state.ma.us/mgis). Aleda recommends the online mapping section of the web page as the first place to go when helping patrons.

Some layers are done and some still in progress. Some data is continually refreshed, other data layers are not updated. Data usually includes text providing scale and purpose of data and telephone number of contact person. MassGIS distributes data on CD-ROM. "Other GIS Resources" has links to other states. There is also a link to MGIC, the Massachusetts Geographic Information Council, which holds monthly meetings on GIS topics . The meetings are open to the public.

Ralph introduced the next speaker, Johanna Meyers , GIS Coordinator, GIS Resource Center, Tish Library, Tufts University and he read a quote from Johanna: "One of the greatest strengths of GIS is its ability to cross many fields and bring together different disciplines for a new perspective on data relationships. One of the reasons I got involved with GIS is it is a cross between art and analysis. I enjoy not only the amount of information you can transfer quickly in a map, but the different perspectives the mapping of data allows."

Johanna spoke on the use of GIS in an academic/university setting. She gave several reasons why the GIS Resource Center is located in the library: 1) library is used for accessing information and data, 2) it supports the curriculum of the university, 3) the library is very accessible; it has longer hours than a department would. This year six classes used GIS: Environmental Studies, Civil & Environment Engineering, Environmental Policy Planning and classes in the Veterinary, Medical and Nutrition Schools. The Center gives seminars and workshops and facilitates interdisciplinary work and data sharing between groups. The Center is usually staffed from 12-8. There is a director, GIS coordinator, a library liaison, and interns. Johanna teaches and coordinates classes and trains interns. She has guest speakers, such as Aleda, come in to do presentations.

Environmental Studies Portal task force report, Boston Library Consortium (June 2002)

7 December
From Clifford Lynch interview in Syllabus:

Librarians and information technologists at our universities, working together, can provide more hospitable platforms for new works of digital authorship—by creating institutional repositories and addressing the digital preservation and stewardship issues around making sure this content makes it into the future...

Indeed libraries have had an important role in knowledge structuring and organization and preservation systems as the world of scholarly communication has changed. But they do sometimes tend to hang back for a while, waiting to see how the world is going to settle down before moving in. I think that we are now in an era where being a bit more aggressive might be a good thing. The world is changing fast and yet there are a lot of conservative forces at work as well—libraries can do a lot to help make this transition to thinking about authoring in the digital environment, of going beyond just using the digital technologies to re-disseminate print. They also are going to need to continue to collaborate with IT to cope in this new world.

S: Do you see IT departments and libraries in colleges and universities having more of a relationship?

CL: Yes, in fact, that's one of the things that CNI has been all about, and I think this is certainly something that is inevitable. And more and more you will see a third player in the collaboration, and that will be the instructional technologist.

S: What will be the essence of that relationship?

CL: Libraries are going to get very involved now in some things that historically they haven't been doing in support of the faculty. Rights clearance in particular will be one of those areas as faculty wish to repurpose material into digital works. Preservation and stewardship, as I already discussed, is another. And helping with knowledge and information structuring and organization.

And another from the same issue:Re-Visions of Minard ("If, as some say, Minard's depiction of Napoleon's 1815 March on Moscow is "the best statistical graphic ever drawn" (Tufte, 1983), can we improve it? What a wonderful challenge!")

One of the nicest examples: Menno-Jan Kraak

Web Cartography: Developments and Prospects
Paperback Book: £24.99 ISBN: 074840869X

Matthew Eberle's Library Techlog

9 December
Latent Semantic Indexing

utk summary

The Social Life of Documents (Brown and Duguid, 1995)

10 December
Middlebury's Segue Course Management suite (Shel Sax, Alex Chapin, others) and its relation to MIT/Stanford/Mellon Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI --see Non-Technical Brief by Scott Siddall): toward development of Open Source software, and the possibility of consortial construction of an alternative to Blackboard/WebCT, with more flexibility, less cost, more attention to the small lieral arts college pedagogical model. "Interoperability is the issue in course management systems" --the necessity to be able to link disparate apps and databases. The whole issue of Open Source needs thought, and I wonder if there's a Primer, someplace that explains the acronyms (API: Appliction Program Interface) and points to the relevant sites (like SourceForge, which seems to be a clearinghouse for Open Source developments). Likely place: OpenSource.org

This needs to be fitted into the CompSci/ITG scheme, and Siddall's summary is eloquent:

Four layers: at the bottom, the campus infrastructure; next up, OKI "common services APIs" (software modules for limited functions: AuthN, AuthZ, DBMS, File, GUID, Rules, Logging, User Messaging, etc)) and "educational services APIs" (more complex functions, some created by integration of several common services (Content Mgmt, Course Mgmt, Assessment, etc)); and "educational applications" that integrate into "more comprehensive learning systems"

Common services in Java, for portability

MIT's Stellar, Stanford's CourseWork, others are examples of CMS that are compliant with OKI standards

MIT will host the first meeting of the OKI Developer's Network in Feb 2003 --see web.mit.edu/oki [looks to me like something that Tom Whaley and Jeff Knudson ought to attend]

Middleware: "the extra layer of software between the applications and the infrastructure on which they run... mechanism to separate application code from changes to underlying software services... sevices include: authentication, authorization, database access, directory services, assessment, enrolment, scheduling..." (from Mellon's Ira Fuchs' PPTs at Forum for the Future of Higher Education)

Are we on the brink of a new cooperative/collaborative era? Mellon's OKI and OCW (OpenCourseWare) suggest that we are. NeXT had as its key notion the idea that the environment could be used to build collaborative apps ("distributed object framework, a shareable object library across a network of copmpatible machines")... and Berners-Lee used it to develop WWW...

China Dynasties and Korea animated

I started a blog named oook (what else?) to explore the technology and see if it might be a feasible alternative medium for Bio182. I note that John Blackburn hadn't heard of blogs as recently as a month ago...

11 December
I have agreed to write an article for NITLE News. Emergent technologies seem the appropriate epicenter.

14 December
At the end of things, and on the verge of return to W&L, I wrote a reply to John Blackburn's draft on the Teaching and Learning Resource Center. In some ways it summarizes a lot of what my travels have predisposed me toward.

I've spent the day using the Web via AirPort and DSL, following various curiosities as I wanted to and as the fates brought new questions to my attention.

18 December
I reckon that I'm still on sabbatical and anyhow I need someplace to park a few things:

Scholarly Communication in a Digital World: A Thought Provoking Symposium To Celebrate the World-Wide Launch of DSpace™

A summary of readings and writings in three pages:

20 December
Picking up on some threads that I meant to get back to:

Latent Semantic Indexing
Patterns in Unstructured Data: Discovery, Aggregation, and Visualization ( A Presentation to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation by Clara Yu John Cuadrado Maciej Ceglowski J. Scott Payne) --see also NITLE News summary and Open Source module summary

references to papers on LSI from Telecordia.com --see also their Demo Machine

CiteSeer entry for Deerwester et al. 1990

...which led me to Visualization of Knowledge Structures (Chaomei Chen, 2002), which looks to me like the basic reading for the course on Frontiers of Science ...see CiteSeer entry and its associated links to get an idea of what's nearby. See also Visualizing a Knowledge Domain's Intellectual Structure (Chen and Paul 2001)

A search for "latent semantic indexing" found (among others) Trawling the web for emerging cyber-communities (Kumar et al. Proceedings of the Eighth International World Wide Web Conference, Toronto, Canada, May 1999)

Chen 2002 cites Eugene Garfield in Science, 1955 (122:108-111) "Citation indexes for science: a new dimension in documentation through association of ideas" ...and also citation of Garfield and Small 1989 Identifying the changing frontiers of science (S. Neaman Press). Also cites Price in Science 149:510-515 "Networks of scientific papers"

Notes that ISI has "Sci-Map software for users to navigate the citation network... and H. Small has a variety of JASIS and other puibications... note Library Trends 48:72-108... and a number of other JASIS citations in the bibliography too, like White and : an author co-citation analysis of information scicence, 1972-1995"

Garfield et al. 2002 Algorithmic citation-linked historiography --mapping the literature of science

On the Visualization account, the 22 November Science points to Atlas of Cyberspaces

Note two sites from the 13 December Science: Java applets simulate chemistry essentials, and an Online Mendelian Inheritance in Animals is announced.

21 December
Beowulf Computing

"In the summer of 1994 Thomas Sterling and Don Becker, working at CESDIS under the sponsorship of the ESS project, built a cluster computer consisting of 16 DX4 processors connected by channel bonded Ethernet. They called their machine Beowulf. The machine was an instant success and their idea of providing COTS (Commodity off the shelf) base systems to satisfy specific computational requirements quickly spread through NASA and into the academic and research communities. The development effort for this first machine quickly grew into a what we now call the Beowulf Project. Some of the major accomplishment of the Beowulf Project will be chronicled below, but a non-technical measure of success is the observation that researcher within the High Performance Computer community are now referring to such machines as "Beowulf Class Cluster Computers." That is, Beowulf clusters are now recognized as genre within the HPC community... The first Beowulf cluster, called Wiglaf , was built with DX4 processors and 10Mbit/s Ethernet [ configuration summary ]. The processors were too fast for a single Ethernet and Ethernet switches were still too expensive. To balance the system Don Becker rewrote his Ethernet drivers for Linux and built a "channel bonded" Ethernet where the network traffic was striped across two or more Ethernets. As 100Mbit/s Ethernet and 100Mbit/s Ethernet switches became cost effective, the need for channel bonding was diminished (at least for awhile). The second cluster, Hrothgar , was built in 1996. It was a 16-node cluster based on 100MHz Pentiums and switched Fast Ethernet..." (from http://beowulf.gsfc.nasa.gov/overview.html)

"...NASA researchers named their cluster Beowulf, after the lean, mean hero of medieval legend who defeated the giant monster Grendel by ripping off one of the creature's arms. Since then, the name has been widely adopted to refer to any low-cost cluster constructed from commercially available PCs." (from http://venus.arcride.edu.ar/~majordom/gtm/volume.0202/msg00022.html, but originally published in SciAm Aug 2001)

There are so many things to be turned into Problematics. Take this issue of Cathedral and Bazaar, of closed and open source: this is an Issue for Computer Science, and an issue for W&L developers too. It needs to be talked about, excavated from the entrenched positions people have, the nature of entrenchment understood... and it's another of those "don't have time not to do it..." issues. But who are the concerned parties, and could they be roped into dialog, and how would it fit into pedagogy? How would the dialog actually reach the students who need to know about the issue? This is a local example of a general problem, found in lots of fields and plenty of institutions.

a human-generated list of sites

Pointillism and image-handling: a Random Samples story in 6 December Science reporting David S. Ebert's work with stippling/pointillism to represent 3D space.

(see google search result for pointers to other items)

From FOSBLOG: "Last summer Sun Microsystems issued a white paper on Digital Library Technology Trends to accompany its Digital Library Toolkit" ... cached here. Here's an excerpt:

The development of digital libraries must be considered in the overall context of initiatives to unify the IT structures of the campus and to transform the learning process through innovative technology... Fragmented, monolithic approaches are falling away as educators realize the need to link learning and administartive resources in a more effective way to become a "knowledge enterprise," the 21st century version of the traditional campus... (and quoting Clifford Lynch:) "I think we will see a continued evolution from thinking about digital collections to thinking about networked information services, which will integrate authoring, analysis, and distribution tools that facilitate the reuse and repurposing of digital content."

(they cite NSF/JSIC collaboration on "Digital Libraries and the Classroom: testbeds for transforming teaching and learning" (2002-2007 --but this is the first I recall hearing of the joint program, and it's hard to know what standing this document has in the light of declining fortunes of Sun...))

23 December
I've found my way into a thicket of interlinked materials, starting with reading about emergence in several books I have in the queue:

Kelly's book pointed me to one I should have made use of e'er now, Bolter's Writing Space (1991) --but it turns out thaht there's a new edition, post-Web, and I have it on order. The extensive review by Webster Newbold is a good jump-start.

Related are some sources on blogs and wikis that make me feel that I'm substantially in arrears on some developments I should have been following more closely:

...and some other work going on in the "emergent systems" realm, notably that of Doug Blank and Deepak Kumar of Bryn Mawr's Emergent Systems Working Group.

And here's exactly the problem: how do those of us who are the self-selected 'visionaries' and explorers and ears-to-the-rail for our institutions... how do we develop the support and development infrastructure that we all need? We seem to have the tools at our fingertips, in various parts of the Active Web, and I suppose it could be said that we're actually doing that support- and communication-building. It seems that every now and then I find another essential source --Lessig, Bolter-- and/or piece of the lexicon --emergence, remediation-- and/or utility --wikis, latent semantic indexing-- that accompanies the evolution we're all caught up in. Perhaps it's just that I need to make myself more adequately connected with like-minded others. The various media at my fingertips certainly facilitate such connection, if I am able to organize myself to make use of them efficiently, and if I can in fact bring myself to the point of using them conversationally.

Not so very distant: a set of notes by Steve Cisler on a visit to Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago for World-InfoCon, at which he spoke "about the role of libraries in building the digital commons which was not just content but the access tools to acquire the content, as well as the skills to find the content". He observes that

Information issues are not immediately interesting or compelling. They must be tied to people's work, their identity, their freedom, their health, and their environment. Most people do not think about information flows or intellectual property rights, and most information is still passed from one individual to another, and this is supplemented by media blizzard which varies in intensity depending on how much you watch television, how many newspapers or magazines you consume, or how much time you spend with web logs, e-zines, and all the other forms of information that make up the Web.

Media Ecology (A Journal of Intersections)

Heresies seem to be everywhere: Papyrus to PowerPoint (P 2 P): metamorphosis of scientific communication ( Ronald E LaPorte et al, BMJ 2002;325:1478-1481 ( 21 December ))

Syllabus Summer 2002 Proceedings, Syllabus Fall 2002 Proceedings and announcement of Summer 2003 in San Jose/Stanford

24 December
Bolter and Grusin Remediation: understanding new media (P96 .T42 B59 1999)

...media technologies constitute networks or hybrids that can be expressed in physical, social, aesthetic, and economic terms. Introducing a new media technology does not mean simply inventing new hardware and software, but rather fashioning (or refashioning) such a network. The World Wide Web is not merely a software protocol and text and data files. It is also the sum of the uses to which this protocol is now being put: for marketing and advertising, scholarship, personal expression, and so on. These uses are as much a part of the technology as the software itself. For this reason, we can say that media technologies are agents in our culture without falling into the trap of technological determinism. New digital media are not external agents that come to disrupt an unsuspecting culture. They emerge from within cultural contexts, and they refashion other media, which are embedded in the same or similar contexts. (19)

In digital media today, as in modern art in the first half of the century, the medium must pretend to be utterly new in order to promote its claim of immediacy. It must constitute itself as a medium that (finally) provides the unmediated experience that all previous media sought, but failed to achieve. This is why each innovation on the WWW must be represented by its promoters as a revolution. Streaming audio, streaming video, Java, VRML --each of these cannot merely improve what the Web offered before but must "reinvent" the Web, As we have shown, what is in fact new is the particular way in which each innovation rearranges and reconstitutes the meaning of earlier elements. What is new about new media is therefore also old and familiar: that they promise the new by remediating what has gone before. (270)

Kevin Kelly Out of Control:

Technology, particularly the technology of knowledge, shapes our thought. The possibility space created by each technology permits certain kinds of thinking and discourages others. A blackboard encourages repeated modification, erasure, casual thinking, spontaneity. A quill pen on writing paper demands care, attention to grammar, tidiness, controlled thinking. A printed page solicits rewritten drafts, proofing, introspection, editing. Hypertext, on the other hand, stimulates yet another way of thinking: telegraphic, modular, nonlinear, malleable, cooperative... (463)

Networks rearrange the writing space of the printed book into a writing space many orders larger and many ways more complex than [that] of ink on paper. The entire instrumentation of our lives can be seen as part of that "writing space". As data from weather sensors, demographic surveys, traffic recorders, cash registers, and all the millions of electronic information generators pour their "words" or representation into the Net, they enlarge the writing space. Their information becomes part of what we know, part of what we talk about, part of our meaning... (465-466)

Our society is a working pandemonium of fragments... There is no central keeper of knowledge in a network, only curators of particular views. People in a highly connected yet deeply fragmented society can no longer rely on a central canon for guidance. They are forced into the modern existential blackness of creating their own culture, beliefs, markets, and identity from a sticky mess of interdependent pieces... (466)

25 December
continuing Kelly 1994:

...massive swarms... a mob of interdependent nodes whose values simultaneously depend on each other.

...net math exhibits nonintuitive traits. In general, small variations in input in an interacting swarm can produce huge variations in output. Effects are disproportionate to causes --the butterfly effect. (391)

Bolter Writing Space (1991 edition --I have the second edition on order, and eagerly await its arrival)

...in the context of electronic writing, nothing is more natural than the centrifugal disorder of our present cultural life... Hypertextual publication can accomodate all the mutually incomprehensible languages that the intellectual world now speaks, and this unification of technique must serve as the consolation for the lost unity of purpose. (235)

...cultural literacy does not require a knowledge of traditional texts; instead, it means access to the vocabulary needed to read and wriute effectively. And in fact this operational definition is now making cultural literacy almost synonymous with computer literacy. Both cultural and computer literacy simply mean access to information and the ability to add to the store of information. Increasingly, cultural literacy will require working with the computer, as the computer becomes the most important writing space in our culture. (237)

...the end of traditional print literacy is not the end of literacy. The computer is simply the technology by which literacy will be carried into a new age. (237)

The computer offers people thye opportunity to build liaisons with other readers and writers and to work in relative isolation from other such groups... the microcomputer and the phone network really do permit special literacies to survive. (238)

An electronic hypertext... never presumes to close itself off; instead it provides places where the reader may continue his or her own writing. There is no need to suggest further work in a hypertext, because further work is always needed and always implicitly requested. (239)

The new medium compels us to acknowledge that all previous forms of writing are as much technologies as fully computerized hypertext --that writing itself is not merely influenced by technology, but rather is technology. The very idea of writing, of semiosis, cannot be separated from the materials and techniques with which we write... writing is one way, perhaps the principal way, of constructing our cultural world. That world is the sum of the texts that we write, and we make this realization just at the time when the computer has arrived to compel us to rewrite our texts both individually and collectively. (239-240)

A search for uses of 'emergent' led me to my own golden words

The digital library is distributed: it is accessible anytime and anyplace, and its ubiquity will change teaching and learning. The digital library is also emergent: it is being built by its users, as they contribute and interlink their work, their interests, and their applications. The details must be invented, by combining technological possibilities with the developing imagination of instructors and support staff. Librarians have vital roles to play in development and organization, but the digital library is not the sole province of librarians --indeed, the building of digital libraries requires a range of skills that necessitates collaboration.
...and in another connection (Web of Science):
Once one can ask who has cited a work, it becomes a question one asks repeatedly. This activity changes the view one takes of research and of disciplines, and of how disciplines may be taught and visualized. We need to invest in expansion of this tool, in the faith that it will transform the understanding of students and faculty alike. Presence of the tool and a sufficient archive makes it possible and practical to teach science as emergent process, to ask empirical questions about influence and interlinkage by identifying core papers and studying patterns of co-citation (see Garfield's "Mapping the World of Science" [www.zbp.univie.ac.at/gj/citation/mapsciworld.htm]). Few courses in the sciences now take this approach, but many could --and students would have the opportunity to develop more synoptic views of intellectual terrain. This is particularly important to developing the liberal arts context of the sciences.

27 December
An example of a wandering, deeper and deeper into the morass, inspired by reading Jon Thiem's "Myths of the Universal Library" (an excerpt linked, from Jon Thiem: "Myths of the Universal Library: From Alexandria to the Postmodern Age," in Cyberspace Textuality: Computer Technology and Literary Theory, ed. M-L Ryan (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), pp. 256-66; quotation from pp. 256-59. --see Luc Herman's review , and c.f. Dominic Gates' The Library of Babel: The dream of cyberspace as a Universal Library (PreText Magazine, Oct 1997). There's also a worthwhile article by Miroslav Kruk: The Internet and the revival of the myth of the universal library , and while we're at it, it's necessary to re-read Borges' The Library of Babel --these links found at Det universella biblioteket - dröm eller mardröm?

"Universal electronic library" search brought me once again to The Xanadu Ideal (Ted Nelson [1993]) --and google's "similar pages" function brings me Andrew Pam's "Where World Wide Web Went Wrong " and Our Role as Teachers of Literacy, which is part of Rhetorics of the Web: Implications for Teachers of Literacy (Doug Brent. Kairos 1997) (there's a feature allowing download of the whole thing, for offline reading of all-but-outerlinked material, which I have in a /kairos/ folder)

Transforming the Web into a Forum for Academic Research: The USC Doheny Electronic Resources Center Model (Judith Truelson, 1997 --worth a look to re-check current realities and prognostications)

...and reminding myself of Wikipedia --a glance at the Recent Changes page gives some sense of the dynamics and immediacy. There's also a newly-instantiated Wiktionary

Bolter's 2nd edition (2001) arrived. A few trenchant extracts:

Like many others, I had no idea that the Web would grow into a defining application for electronic communication. As a global hypertext system, the Web has provided the most convincing evidence of the computer's potential to refashion the practice of writing. For better or for worse, the Web is hypertext for us today; all the earlier applications of stand-alone hypertext seem experimental or provisional in comparison. (xi)

The development of the Web and multimedia has foregrounded the relationship of word and image, so that the history of the tension between verbal and visual representation seems more important than ever. (xii)

...it has become clear that we can use the computer to provide a writing surface with conditions different from those of print. A World Wide Web page already differs in some important ways from a conventional printed page (7)

A conventional word processor does not treat the text as a network of verbal ideas. It does not contain a map of the ways in which a text may be read; it does not record or act on the semantic structure of the text. Other forms of electronic writing do all these things, making the text from the writer's point of view a network of verbal elements and from the reader's point of view a texture of possible readings. They permit the reader to share in the dynamic process of writing and to alter the voice of the text. (9)

quoting Conklin 1987:22-23: "A literature is a system of interconnected writings..." (IEEE Computer 29:17-41)

Looking Ahead to 2003

28 December
Reading more in Bolter 2001... and hunting for some sign of his promised Web page. That led me to this excellent commentary on its missingness:

Here, in several dozen nodes is the conversation I wanted to have with Bolter on his site-that-doesn't-exist, along with a bit of him talking back to himself hypertextually. The absence is more than an omission, I suspect...it actually becomes a meta phor for the struggles in the late age of print, the problems and promise of openness in the Library, and the inklings of a beginning of a new literacy that may be something completely different. In effect, Bolter's hole in cyberspace, the lack that is not "simply" anything at all, provides a window through which to examine all of Writing Space.

Some more quotable bits from Bolter 2001:

In the past few decades, the metaphor of electronic writing has been applied to two very different views of mind and self. The earlier version of the metaphor treated hypertext as the inscription of rational, even Cartesian thought. The implicit claim was that hypertext could better represent or facilitate the associative processes of the rational mind. If print disguised these "natural" qualities of thought, hypertext made them transparent. The second, and now dominant version, is not concerned with electronic writing as a tool for rational thought, but rather as a reflection of a fragmented and constantly changing postmodern identity. The reflexive character of writing is emphasized: we write both to express, to discover, and to share who we are, and in a postmodern age our written identity is, like hypertext, dynamic, flexible, and contingent. (190)

Today we are exploiting electronic writing to opose standardization and unification as well as hierarchy. The World Wide Web is a famously chaotic distributed system, in which individuals or their organizations are free to create new pages and sites and to add them to the global hypertext without the approval or even the knowledge of any central authority. The Web offers as a paradigm a writing system that changes to suit its audiences of reader-writers rather than expecting that audience to conform to some predetermined authority or standard.

As we rewrite our culture into a vast hypertext, each of us as readers becomes free to choose to explore one subnetwork or as many as she wishes. It is no longer convincing to say that one subject is more important than another...

Through the last decades there has remained some uneasiness about this situation: hence the traditionalist's plea for a canon of great authors, his call somehow to reestablish a core of textual knowledge that everyone must possess. But the specialization in the sciences and the humanities and social sciences has gone too far to be recalled. The academic world, like the rest of our culture, is now defined by its numerous "special interest groups." Although all the groups are interconnected --some grew out of others, and each sends out runners (links) into other camps-- nevertheless, an over-arching unification is no longer even the goal. (206)

In fact, the fragmentation of our textual world is only a problem when judged by the standards of print technology, which expects the humanities, incluuding metaphysics and ethics, to be relatively stable and hierarchically organized. Postmodern culture values instead the heterogeneity and spontaneity of shifting positions... (207)

Although in the past print could be construed as radical, this is not its role today, according to either the critics of or the enthusiasts for electronic writing. In the late age of print, electronic technology defines itself as remediation, and print technology defines itself as resisting that remediation... The traditionalists... still believe in authentic communication, but authenticity for them is defined differently. They favor their construction of print, with its traditions, its hierarchies, and its unidirectional form of communication. For them the authenticity of print derives from the privileged nature of the dialog it fosters --a dialog in which the author is necessarily dominant... (209)

In the 1980s... the Internet matured through the efforts of dedicated computer specialists, mostly graduate students and faculty in universities. They constructed a technology that was congenial to their culture, in which individual autonomy was highly prized. That the World Wide Web grew out of that same culture explains its distributed architecture, lack of security, and use of the hypertext model of associative linking. (209)

The hierarchies of previous information technologies do not seem to be easily grafted onto the network technologies of today. (210)

...the term "late" does not mean that print technology is necessarily about to disappear: it may continue to survive and even prosper for an undetermined future. The term refers instead to the relationship of print technology to our literate culture. The printed book is no longer the only or necessarily the most important space in which we locate our texts and images. For all our communication purposes, print is now measured over against digital technology, and the ideal of perfect communication that our culture associated with print is under constant challenge. (210)

29-31 December
Work on Looking Ahead to 2003 summary

1 January 2003
Still on sabbatical... and still chasing stuff. Bryan sent me a link to Denham Grey's pages, and they reminded me that I need to spend more time on thinking about how to interest people in the silly-sounding Active Web tools, like blog and wiki. Grey's AboutWiki ("Wiki history and the story") is a useful on-ramp.

ACM SIGIR '99 paper: Guided Personalization in Information Browsing: Dynamic Hypertext as Collaboration between Authors, Readers, and Documents (Richard C. Bodner and Mark H. Chignell, Interactive Media Laboratory (http://www.imedia.mie.utoronto.ca/), University of Toronto) --one to follow via CiteSeer ...and see also CiteSeer Relator ("A tool for browsing scientific literature in the CiteSeer database, by exploring links between related articles" --which seems a bit flaky on the laptop, but is a great idea...)

KnowledgeSpaces from Denham Grey ("links and thoughts on tools, practices and design for collaborative spaces for knowledge work")

Bridging the Two Cultures: A Collaborative Approach to Managing Electronic Resources (John Dupuis, Science & Electronic Resources Librarian, and Patti Ryan, Political Science & Electronic Resources Librarian, York University Libraries) Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Spring 2002

How a Librarian Can Live Nine Lives in a Knowledge-Based Economy (Brunella Longo, in Computers in Libraries Nov/Dec 2001)

One of the things I've most enjoyed and would most like to create in my day-to-day life is a means to share enthusiasm for the edges, to be able to share stuff with working groups, at W&L and elsewhere. Blogs are one instrumentality, though f2f has a very high level of satisfaction when it works, missing in online things... but how can such a BrainTrust be brought into being?

Evaluating Citebase, an open access Web-based citation-ranked search and impact discovery service (Steve Hitchcock, Arouna Woukeu, Tim Brody, Les Carr, Wendy Hall and Stevan Harnad)

Jon Udell on ISBNs and linkings (InfoWorld) --and see his blog entry... oh jeez. We really need to have more open eyes'n'ears... and his blog home page. See Craig Johnson on the LibraryLookup thing.

...which pointed me to James Noble and Robert Biddle Notes on Postmodern Programming (a Technical Report from Victoria University of Wellingon, New Zealand --which, among other things, "argues (in a nice tongue-in-cheek way) that we have entered the post-modern world of computing where users/developers will piece together solutions using a wide variety of found technology which may not have been intended for that use." [Craig Johnson])

(this continues in my justback folder)