Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thread 2: Knowledge Creation

From mission we fly straight into knowledge creation. Presented as "the [potentially] boring and dry Thread" (Lankes, 2011, p. 31), I have to admit that any discussion that delves into the particulars of language and psychology and then applies them in a thorough criticism of current cataloging systems promises to be anything but dry or boring. The thread depends heavily on Conversation Theory, the idea originating from George Pask that "knowledge is created through conversations" (Lankes, 2011, p. 31). I followed that idea easily enough, maybe even intuited where some of the conversation would go, but the truly interesting part of the discussion began with the emphasis on relationships over artifacts as the preferred foundation for any ordering system. Seriously, it was striking enough to make it into my dreams.

Lankes points out that the difference between what librarians have traditionally done and what we should be doing is the difference between curating a collection of "knowledge artifacts" and engaging in conversations about those artifacts, the result of which will ultimately lead to new artifacts of knowledge that may become sources of new conversations. The important detail is that every conscious being has a unique way of relating to and thereby conversing on artifacts, thus current approaches in librarianship to systematizing knowledge artifacts are inadequate, to say the least. His solution? Begin designing systems that map relationships, rather than catalog objects.

After reading this thread I suddenly feel I have a much better idea of how social networking fits into the library picture. So much literature talks about blogs, wikis, Facebook or MySpace and Twitter in the context of specific uses that it can become difficult to see their underlying potential, to look at the component relationships rather than the system as a whole. In some ways, it seems our "artifact-centric" worldview has already worked frantically to put these and other social networking tools into boxes and fixed forms, to make artifacts out of them, too. If instead we focus on the relation-driven technologies that make up social media, we might move beyond using them strictly as promotional tools to studying the way they map relationships as a means of creating our own, new systems. I can't promise that this new insight into social technologies will convert me overnight into an outright technophile, but it certainly has piqued my curiosity.

Lankes, R. David. (2011). The Atlas of New Librarianship (pp. 31-63). Cambridge: MIT Press.

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