Posts filed under ‘The Social Life of Information’

Book handling service

What a relief, and I’ve got my outboard brain to thank.

In Active Reading, I mentioned, “I am sure I’ve read of someone offering a service to dog-ear and markup books for aristocracy so it looked like they were well-read….”  A combination of my booklist and Amazon search inside got me there:

The Social Life of Information, John Seely Brown, Paul Duguid p.187 “readers rely on more informal warrants, too.  For example, they may examine a report to see whose handwriting appears in the margin, whether the spine is broken, how well the pages are thumbed, where the highlights fall, or whose names are on the routing slip.  (The Irish writer Flann O’Brien imagined a book-handling service for the culturally insecure.  For a fee, book handlers would crease the spines of your books, turn down pages, mark passages, put intelligent comments in the margins, or, for a slightly greater sum, insert tickets from operas or classic plays as bookmarks.)  Material objects are good at picking up such incidental traces, and people are good at making the incidental significant.”  References O’Brien 1977, p.22 O’Brien, Flann [Myles na Gopaleen]. 1977.  The Best of Myles. London: Picador.

So that’s a little insight into the chinese whispers going on inside my brain.  Welcome.  Come on in.


October 16, 2006 at 12:43 pm Leave a comment

Even more social information

More notes from The Social Life of Information, John Seely Brown, Paul Duguid.

p.149,150 presents the ‘knowledge conundrum’ that information is sticky and leaky: knowledge could not always be found, and when it was, it could not be moved to where it was needed; knowledge is critical but you can’t stop it from moving or leaking out of the organization.

p.171 Mentioned Shapiro, Varian, Information Rules.

p.182 for annotation of web pages.  [Wonder what the history of this is – the site is just holding the name right now.  A way to make and share comments (graffiti) about web sites.  I think original content owners were upset by the idea.]

RSS, your own news, but context is important.  If your news is filtered, personalized, what are you missing?  Context, size of font, position in paper. 

p.199 A sense of community arises from reading the same text. It binds people together.  [The same comments were made in David Levy’s Scrolling Forward regarding the relationship between newspapers and nationmaking.]  A personalized newspaper makes it harder to find common ground.

p.200 Time binding, space binding, old 250 year documents are still around.  Web pages change everyday and are lost forever….unless you print them out.  [This is more that Levy talks about.  We are anxious about the fluidity of our digital documents where fixity is still undefined or at least poorly defined.]

p.218 The “personalized newspaper” assumes people are best served if given the news on topics they pre-select, but this model neglects how difficult it is to know and describe what they want.  [This recalls comments from Information Anxiety 2 and remembering there are different ways to search, from “Four modes of Seeking Information and How to Design for Them“]  It neglects the importance of serendipitous news.  We all need to learn things we didn’t set out to learn….provides knowledge and experience that people didn’t know they need, and the skill to judge the worthwhile from the worthless – an increasingly important skill in an age of ubiquitous and often unreliable information.

p.226 making the point that online activities complement the offline, they don’t replace them.

p.249 discussing copyright in the digital age.  Code makes it impossible to prevent access forever, but just because we can doesn’t mean we should (ala Lessig and The Future of Ideas).

P.262 Goodhart’s law, statistical regularities break down when used for control…people have an interest in creating fake footprints.

p.266 Mentions the difficulty of the process of socializing new technologies, e.g. the ball point pen took 58 years, the zipper 32, the internet, 20…..[In The Singularity is Near, Kurzweil discusses this topic, the increasing speed of socializing new technology.]

August 22, 2006 at 12:50 pm Leave a comment

More Social Information

More notes from The Social Life of Information, John Seely Brown, Paul Duguid.

p.30 Mentions Zuboff “In the Age of the Smart Machine” …but the paradise of shared knowledge and a more egalitarian working environment just isn’t happening.  Knowledge really isn’t shared because management doesn’t want to share authority and power.  It’s a problem of management not technology.  [Reminds me of a quote I read in eWeek: “There are no technological solutions to social problems.”  Merril’s law?]

[Throughout the book, the authors discount and critique the “Dreams” of Info-enthusiasts, futurists, technologists.  It gets really old.]

p.80 Apparent “Ease” offered by these technologies hides much of the extra work they involve.  Teachers are encouraged to “put their materials on the web” as if that task was merely a click away.  Anyone who tries will quickly find how demanding making and maintaining a worthwhile web page can be….  [But we’re all publishers, now.  I suppose that’s what web 2.0 is all about right, the read/write web?  Enabling the everyman and all that.  Sure it’s not always easy.  Neither is learning to read.  Information Literacy again.]

p.87 Too often IT design is poor because problems have been redefined in ways that ignore the social resources….by contrast, successful design usually draws on these social resources even while helping them change.  One way to engage such resources is to help build them, engendering a sufficient number of competent users that they can start to help each other.

p.124 Learning, the acquisition of knowledge, presents knowledge management with its central challenge, oft defined core problem.  In terms of information with solutions in province of information technology, retrieval looks as easy as search.  But all of these are subordinate to learning.  This makes intellectual property available, etc.

p.126 Learning, sharing, and using knowledge appear indivisible.  Conversely, talk without the work, communication without the practice is, if not unintelligible, at least unusable.  Become a member of a community, engage in its practices, and you can use its knowledge and information, remain an outisder and they remain indigestible.

p.141 Networks of practice vs. communities of practice.  Networks  – They may have occupations in common, but people may not know each other.  Communities are typically face-to-face groups.

August 18, 2006 at 1:03 pm Leave a comment

The Social Life of Information

Some notes from The Social Life of Information, John Seely Brown, Paul Duguid.  A cautionary tale, it reminds all those (us?) “infoenthusiasts” to remember that people actually have to be involved in using/developing new technology. A little overbearing on that topic, but a good reminder when dealing with the interfaces between technology and the people actually using it. Written “pre-web 2.0″ some arguments have been rendered mute, but the points are still valid.

p.4 “In the digital world…many of the distinctions between designers and users are becoming blurred.  We are all, to some extent, designers now.  Many questions about design are thus becoming questions for us all.  It is important, then, to understand our own limits as designers, too, and to know where to look for resources. ”  Information Literacy.

p.15 Mentions MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte “Being Digital”  This looks like an interesting read.

p.17 Historians trace the beginnings of the information age to the telegraph.  Related “The Victorian Internet” by Standage, is a fascinating read.

p.18 “…the laying to rest of Morse code…” ? 1999?

August 17, 2006 at 12:55 pm Leave a comment

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