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History of Information & Knowledge

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The Conference Report: Three Types of Knowledge. Home | Robert Darnton. Robert Darnton closes the book. Early this summer, Robert Choate Darnton, Harvard’s Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and University Librarian, will pack up his book-lined office on the second floor of Wadsworth House. As of June 30, the celebrated historian, digital library pioneer, and champion of books will leave the University he first saw as an undergraduate in 1957. A scholar of Enlightenment France and of the history of the book, he returned to Harvard in 1965 to join the Society of Fellows, decamped to Princeton University in 1968 for 39 years, and came back to Harvard in 2007. A May 13 sendoff will celebrate Darnton ― a former Rhodes Scholar and MacArthur Fellow — as a champion of free, open-source access in a universe of stored knowledge threatened by commercial exploitation.

In 2007, after arriving at the University as its chief librarian, Darnton joined in a polemic already underway, fighting an attempt by Google to digitize books at Harvard and elsewhere that were covered by copyright. Google & the Future of Books by Robert Darnton. How can we navigate through the information landscape that is only beginning to come into view? The question is more urgent than ever following the recent settlement between Google and the authors and publishers who were suing it for alleged breach of copyright. For the last four years, Google has been digitizing millions of books, including many covered by copyright, from the collections of major research libraries, and making the texts searchable online.

The authors and publishers objected that digitizing constituted a violation of their copyrights. After lengthy negotiations, the plaintiffs and Google agreed on a settlement, which will have a profound effect on the way books reach readers for the foreseeable future. No one knows, because the settlement is so complex that it is difficult to perceive the legal and economic contours in the new lay of the land. The word also spread by written letters, for the eighteenth century was a great era of epistolary exchange. But will it? 16Houton.pdf. Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist | George Monbiot. Who are the most ruthless capitalists in the western world? Whose monopolistic practices make Walmart look like a corner shop and Rupert Murdoch a socialist? You won't guess the answer in a month of Sundays. While there are plenty of candidates, my vote goes not to the banks, the oil companies or the health insurers, but – wait for it – to academic publishers.

Theirs might sound like a fusty and insignificant sector. It is anything but. Of all corporate scams, the racket they run is most urgently in need of referral to the competition authorities. Everyone claims to agree that people should be encouraged to understand science and other academic research. You might resent Murdoch's paywall policy, in which he charges £1 for 24 hours of access to the Times and Sunday Times. Of course, you could go into the library (if it still exists). Murdoch pays his journalists and editors, and his companies generate much of the content they use. What's wrong with scholarly publishing today? II. Robert Darnton closes the book. Further reading in GitHub, from Clay Shirky. The open-source programming world has a lot to teach democracy, says Clay Shirky. In this fascinating talk from TEDGlobal 2012, Shirky harkens back to the early days of the printing press. At the time, a group of “natural philosophers” (who would later adopt the term “scientists”) called the Invisible College realized that the press could offer a new way to share and debate their work.

However, because printing books would be far too slow for this purpose, they came up with a new invention — the scientific journal. So what does this mean for us today? Shirky explains, “If I had to pick a group that I think is our Invisible College — our generation’s collection of people trying to take new tools and press them into the service of, not more arguments, but better arguments — I’d pick the open-source programmers.”

Shirky explains a fact that any programmer knows well — that it is very hard to write instructions computers know how to execute. Shirky writes to the TED Blog: Seminal writings. Too big to know : rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren't the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room (Book, 2011) Marc Benioff, chairman, CEO, bestselling author of Behind the Cloud "Led by the Internet, knowledge is now social, mobile, and open. Weinberger shows how to unlock the benefits. " John Seely Brown, co-author of The Social Life of Information and A New Culture of Learning "Too Big to Know is a stunning and profound book on how our concept of knowledge is changing in the age of the Net.

It honors the traditional social practices of knowing, where genres stay fixed, and provides a graceful way of understanding new strategies for knowing in today's rapidly evolving, networked world. I couldn't put this book down. It is a true tour-de-force written in a delightful way. " Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind"With this insightful book, David Weinberger cements his status as one of the most important thinkers of the digital age.

David Weinberger: Too Big to Know. The Information Age and the Printing Press: Looking Backward to See Ahead. Introduction We are in the midst of the "Information Age. " Pundits have proclaimed it for years; articles in the popular press have plumbed its implications for every imaginable enterprise;[2] businesses are enamored with it; on-line and print magazines are devoted to it; government is wrestling with it, movies have been made about it; people are talking about it--can there be any doubt?

So, where will it all lead and why should we care? And what exactly is the Information Age anyway? It is my intent in this paper to describe a way to think about what the Information Age is and where it will lead. And, put succinctly, we should all care because that way of thinking suggests the Information Age is likely to have profound effects throughout society—even if the specific effects are hard to see at this point. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The second category of people addressing the future of the information age contains those who would "invent" rather than try to predict the future.

Mind Over Mass Media. Transcript for Ann Blair on Information Overload. Jim Fleming: Information overload may seem like a quintessentially 21st century problem, but more than 2000 years ago people complained about the very same thing. The rise of the printed word and the creation of the printing press also flooded the world with vast new streams of information. And it took people a while to figure out how to store and manage all the new knowledge. Historian Ann Blair charts this history in her book, "Too Much To Know". Anne Strainchamps spoke with her. Anne Strainchamps: We tend to think of information overload as a distinctly modern problem, especially now in the Internet age. Ann Blair: Absolutely. Strainchamps: But this is fascinating.

Blair: I would say so. Strainchamps: Do you think people feel the same sort of anxiety the same sort of motions that we feel when we feel inundated by too much information? Blair: If you look at a renaissance doctor like Girolamo Cardano, he is a practicing physician. Strainchamps: [laughs] Blair: Absolutely. Journals, academia and the ivory tower. This post will make more sense if you read this one first: You need us more than we need you. Further to the results of my reader survey, it will probably resonate more with you if you’re in Higher Education… So how did academic journals come about?

Until the late seventeenth century, communication between scholars depended heavily on personal contact and attending meetings arranged by the early learned societies (e.g. the Royal Society). As the membership of these societies increased, more people could not attend the meetings and so the Proceedings, usually circulated as a record of the last meeting became a place to publish papers that had not been presented at the meetings at all and moved towards what we now recognise as scholarly journals. So journals are a replacement for personal contact. Are they good for anything else? Distributed (many copies are stored in many places)scholars trust and understand the systemjournals have prestige built up over many yearsportable and easy to read.

Royal Society journal archive made permanently free to access. 26 October 2011 Around 60,000 historical scientific papers are accessible via a fully searchable online archive, with papers published more than 70 years ago now becoming freely available. The Royal Society is the world’s oldest scientific publisher, with the first edition of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society appearing in 1665.

Henry Oldenburg – Secretary of the Royal Society and first Editor of the publication – ensured that it was “licensed by the council of the society, being first reviewed by some of the members of the same”, thus making it the first ever peer-reviewed journal. Philosophical Transactions had to overcome early setbacks including plague, the Great Fire of London and even the imprisonment of Oldenburg, but against the odds the publication survived to the present day.

Its foundation would eventually be recognised as one of the most pivotal moments of the scientific revolution. Search the journal archive here. Information Overload Is Not a New Problem | Science Blogs. There is a wonderful essay in The Hedgehog Review about the promise and perils of information overload. Titled Why Google Isn’t Making Us Stupid…or Smart, this essay written by Chad Wellmon explores the history of information overload and explores its implications. But Wellmon also spends some time demonstrating that information overload is far from a new problem: These complaints have their biblical antecedents: Ecclesiastes 12:12, “Of making books there is no end”; their classical ones: Seneca, “the abundance of books is a distraction”; and their early modern ones: Leibniz, the “horrible mass of books keeps growing.” After the invention of the printing press around 1450 and the attendant drop in book prices, according to some estimates by as much as 80 percent, these complaints took on new meaning.

Go Back to Top. The (mostly true) origins of the scientific journal - Blogs. Thursday 26th July saw the launch of, a new English language science blog network., the brand-new home for Nature Network bloggers, forms part of the SciLogs international collection of blogs which already exist in German, Spanish and Dutch. To celebrate this addition to the NPG science blogging family, some of the NPG blogs are publishing posts focusing on "Beginnings".

Participating in this cross-network blogging festival is’s Soapbox Science blog, Scitable's Student Voices blog and bloggers from,, Scitable and Scientific American’s Blog Network. Join us as we explore the diverse interpretations of beginnings – from scientific examples such as stem cells to first time experiences such as publishing your first paper.

Wait for folks to have enough ideas to publish a whole book about them, orWrite a lot of letters, hoping that folks will write you back and tell you what they've been up to. 1. 2. 3. 4. The Library: Three Jeremiads by Robert Darnton. When I look back at the plight of American research libraries in 2010, I feel inclined to break into a jeremiad. In fact, I want to deliver three jeremiads, because research libraries are facing crises on three fronts; but instead of prophesying doom, I hope to arrive at a happy ending.

I can even begin happily, at least in describing the state of the university library at Harvard. True, the economic crisis hit us hard, so hard that we must do some fundamental reorganizing, but we can take measures to make a great library greater, and we can put our current difficulties into perspective by seeing them in the light of a long history. Having begun in 1638 with the 400 books in John Harvard’s library, we now have accumulated nearly 17 million volumes and 400 million manuscript and archival items scattered through 45,000 distinct collections. I could string out the statistics indefinitely. Despite financial pressure, we therefore are advancing on two fronts, the digital and the analog.

A World Digital Library Is Coming True! by Robert Darnton. In the scramble to gain market share in cyberspace, something is getting lost: the public interest. Libraries and laboratories—crucial nodes of the World Wide Web—are buckling under economic pressure, and the information they diffuse is being diverted away from the public sphere, where it can do most good. Not that information comes free or “wants to be free,” as Internet enthusiasts proclaimed twenty years ago.1 It comes filtered through expensive technologies and financed by powerful corporations. No one can ignore the economic realities that underlie the new information age, but who would argue that we have reached the right balance between commercialization and democratization? Consider the cost of scientific periodicals, most of which are published exclusively online.

It has increased at four times the rate of inflation since 1986. The average price of a year’s subscription to a chemistry journal is now $4,044. Several experimental enterprises illustrate possibilities of this kind. The Purpose of Journals | The RePEc Blog. The editor of the Economics Bulletin, John Conley, has noted that many things go wrong with economic journals. Here is the abstract of his letter: This letter calls attention a recent trend in economics publishing that seems to have slipped under the radar: large increases in submissions rates across a wide range of economics journals and steeply declining acceptance rates as a consequence.

It is argued that this is bad for scholarly communication, bad for economics as a science, and imposes significant and wasteful costs on editors, referees. authors. and especially young people trying to establish themselves in the profession. It is further argued that the new “Big Deal” business model used by commercial publishers is primarily responsible for this situation. Finally it is argued that this presents a compelling reason to take advantage of new technologies to take control of certifying and distributing research away from commercial publishers and return it to scholarly community. 1. 2. Op-Ed Contributor - Mind Over Mass Media. Mapping the Republic of Letters. Print Culture 101: A Cheat Sheet and Syllabus - C.W. Anderson. Editor's Note: So, people no longer just read ink printed on paper. Now that the electronic word has become embedded in our lives, we have a new perspective on what might have been special and specific about the last few hundred years of information dissemination.

Think of this annotated syllabus from C.W. Anderson (@chanders) as your cheat sheet for the print/digital culture debates. (Oh, and I put a special visual treat the end, so make sure you read to the end.) When I said that I was busy putting a syllabus together for a course on "Print Culture" at CUNY's College of Staten Island this fall, Alexis Madrigal asked me if I'd be willing to share the syllabus development process with the larger online community. (By the way-- if you're interested to get actual page numbers of the readings and occasional pdf's to download, check out my course website, which be be online sometime early next week). The specific title of the class is "COM 230: History of Print Media.

" The Books Images: 1. Internet Dreams: Archetypes, Myths, and Metaphors - Mark Stefik. Singular Simplicity. Peer_review_in_public_james_hansen_s_climate_predictions_released_as_a_draft. Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist | George Monbiot. Academic Journals: The Most Profitable Obsolete Technology in History | Jason Schmitt. Media_41223_en.pdf. Information Policy for the Library of Babel.

Technology - C.W. Anderson - The Difference Between Online Knowledge and Truly Open Knowledge. A ‘Darker Narrative’ of Print's Future From Clay Shirky. Scholarly Information Discovery in the Networked Academic Learning Environment - LiLi Li. Standing at a point of transition: Johannes Trithemius, In Praise of Scribes | Omega Alpha | Open Access.