I’ve been thinking about how libraries can become better at serving researchers and expert users, especially through their front pages. A recent news item from the University of Tennessee library prompted me to make the connection between expert users and library home pages. The University of Tennessee library just announced the launch of their One Search box on the home page. I found this quote especially disturbing “launching a major upgrade to the Libraries’ discovery portal: the search box in the middle of library homepages will yield exponentially more results than in the past.
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.
One of my major goals for the next few years is to work on a philosophical explanation or justification for the success wisdom of crowds. The basic argument of the wisdom of crowds is that a group of people can sometimes be more accurate than a single individual. The claims about increased accuracy are supported by empirical examples such as the ones used by James Surowecki in his book ‘The Wisdom of Crowds’.
This space has been vacant for a long time. The past 4 years have been a wonderful and challenging experience in order to finish my PhD in Communication and Information from the University of Tennessee. I defended my dissertation on April 21 and turned in the final revisions a month later on May 22. The last semester was a whirlwind of data gathering, analysis, and writing. Coming up on three months later I’m beginning to feel a bit more comfortable with the outcome.
I’ve spent the last week at the University of Toronto attending the summer doctoral program hosted by the Oxford Internet Institute. Conveniently abbreviated as OIISDP. Every summer the institute hosts a group of ~30 graduate students who are working on research related to the internet. I was lucky enough to be one of the students accepted for this year. The program is two weeks long and consists of presentations by faculty from Oxford, other schools, and the students themselves.
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 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.
Today’s feature in meaningless survey research is this new poll by the American Management Association on American workers communication skills. MSN is reporting that ‘American workers fall short’. Should anyone be surprised that this is the conclusion of the American Management Association? There’s an obvious bias right there on the part of the executives who are being surveyed. Would it really be in their interest to say that American’s workers are doing well?
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.
I was thinking recently about the popularity of various sciences. Off the top of my head I believed that the social sciences were usually less popular than the natural/hard sciences. I also guessed that sociology or anthropology would be less popular than psychology, among the social sciences. The natural sciences get a lot of publicity from television programs such as Nova or Nature. I don’t believe there is very much coverage of the social sciences at all on television.