John Unsworth at CLIR Camp plus Libraries and Scholars Interacting Over Time

John Unsworth spoke at the CLIR-DLF postdoctoral camp last week. I thought he presented some interesting ideas about the emerging cross-connections between libraries and publishers, as well as some speculations about the development of scholarly data communities around the existence of large-scale data resources. Unsworth works at Brandeis as a vice provost, CIO, and university librarian. He also serves on the executive committee of the HathiTrust Research Center. As part of the HathiTrust he has been directly involved in the development of a 11 million digital collection of books and journals scanned from the collections of member libraries.

Why is Popper so popular?

There is a disconnect between the philosophy of science as it is practiced by philosophers and the philosophy of science as it is interpreted by scientists. I think this difference is the main reason why the paradigm battles between quantitative and qualitative or positivist and interpretivist are still being fought so hard today. I’m wondering how much of this difference can be attributed to the popularity of two philosophers from the middle of the twentieth century: Kuhn and Popper.

A Flash of Mortality

A few hours ago I learned that Iain Banks, one of my favorite SF authors over the last twenty years, has been diagnosed with cancer. I was in the middle of writing up some of my research on citizen science and have been kind of gobsmacked for the last hour. In high school I dreamed of winning a Hugo award for an SF novel, along with a Nobel prize in physics, but now I will be happy to get a research job after I finish my Ph.

Facebook and Me and You and Society and Value

I’m conflicted about Facebook. I would have been an eager supporter of a social network like Facebook ten years ago. I dreamed of a computer program that would show you everyone’s interests, what books they liked to read, the television they enjoyed. Knowledge management was all the rage in business journals and management magazines. KM gurus talked about interest browsers and knowledge networks, being able to immediately find out all the people who were interested in X within organization Y.

How did you become interested in social science?

We were talking in class yesterday about how each of us became interested in social science, specifically sociology. What kind of articles did we admire or remember? A few people mentioned some qualitative articles they had read and the rest of the class nodded along with the professor. Yes, qualitative articles are what we remember most, those quantitative articles are just a mess of numbers that never go far enough to analyze what is behind the numbers.

Candles, Faraday, and Teaching

I’m giving a guest lecture to a STEM class in about two weeks. I plan to talk about my research into citizen science. One of the questions I want to get the students thinking about is what makes someone into a scientist. Is it education, knowledge, skill, social influence, professional certification, or something else? But starting with one question always leads to another. So my mind began to wander back to when I was a volunteer at the Science Museum of Minnestoa in the 1990s.

Comps - the experience of grad school

I participated in a panel with some fellow third-year grad students in CCI this afternoon. We talked about our experiences with comprehensive exams, mostly to students who haven’t finished them or are preparing for them right now. I was struck by how different the experience is for each person. There are differences based on fields (CCI has students in journalism, communication, advertising, and information science), based on the personalities of the committee members, the pedagogical styles of the committee chairs, and the subject field of the dissertation, and more.

Entrepreneurs, Labor, and Citizen Science

Venkatesh Rao, the blogger at ribbonfarm has written a three-part series “Entrepreneurs are the new labor” for Forbes. His basic argument is that entrepreneurs are becoming a new labor class. Twenty years ago technology entrepreurs, like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, were the Robber Barons of the current technology wave, riding the development of personal computres to massive individual fortunes. Today the entrepreurs in Silicon Valley are building upon the shoulders of these giants, many of their companies are small bore endeavors creating the latest social-this-social-that app for consumer smartphones.

The Rhetoric of C. Wright Mills

Reading The Power Elite is a joy. Mills writes with clarity, verve, and emotion. He clearly feels that something is out of kilter in American society and that social science can help to understand the problem. Alan Wolfe wrote an afterword in 2000 to praise Mills for his ability as a social scientist, but takes issue with his ability as a social critic. The first ten chapters of the book describe mid 20c American society very well, the final five chapters shift to social criticism.

C. Wright Mills and the Past of Elite Theory

I’m digging a further into elite theory and uncovering a rich history of material that makes me feel both inadequate and intensely interested in learning more. I’m currently working my way through The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills published in 1956. The book is a great snapshot of mid 20c sociology of elites. Mills describes three levels of American mid-century society, the masses, a middle level, and the power elite.