petermr's blog

A Scientist and the Web

 

librarians of the future – Christine and Kimberley

It was great to meet up again with Christine Borgman from UCLA at the Microsoft meeting. Christine and I have much in common about what needs to be done for digital scholarship.

Christine runs a Masters (I think) in LIS and serially hijacked many of the invitees to take part in virtual sessions with her students. So I gave 15-20 minutes of brain dump over the video link. I said that I would be talking in Oxford and asked for contribution. This one, from Kimberley Garmoe arrived just too late for me to reference it… I am really flattered by the reference to the Enlightenment…

I was the small and nearly invisible voice from the back of the room at UCLA. I do not intentionally hide behind tall people, but somehow they always end up in front of me. I immensely enjoyed your talk, and agreed in principle with everything you had to say. I also think we are on the cusp of the communications revolution, the importance of which can only be compared to the first 300 years of printing. The revolution is already upon us, and clearly will not be televised. I hope that you do not take umbrage with my argumentative tendencies. Your style is so engaging and ideas so compelling that I found it impossible to remain passive and polite.

Dr. Borgman is correct, I am one of the students whose background is not the library sciences, or in any science for that matter. I am a Ph.D. student in European history, and my work is on the communications revolution in German mass media at the end of the 18th century. I will spare you further gory details. However, I think that much your argument reaches back into late Enlightenment thought, and I am happy to see that the legacy of the Enlightenment lives on.

I share your concern that information should not be monopolized, but I would point out that monopoly in the production of information seems to have existed from the early days of print. And by this I do not mean merely the official monopolies granted individual printers, but also the tendency of first printers, and then publishing houses, to establish control over the selection and distribution of information over long periods of time. Even the world of print there have been long decades of disaggregation and competition, but time and time again we end up with powerful monopolies. I would like to know what you think, why does information end up monopolized?

I am certain that your talk at the Bodleian went exceedingly well, and I only wish I was there to hear it. However I know I can look forward to it in the Bodleian print series.

With my best regards,

Kimberly Garmoe

See a very comprehensive account of (some of) the proceedings. I expect that video, etc. may appear as well.

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