Hello and Welcome

Hi. Thanks for visiting.

I’m planning to use this space to investigate and discuss the connections between Library and Information Science (LIS), technology, literature, and cultural studies. Right now, I have some very messy and broad ideas about the ways these topics intersect; I’m hoping that by blogging about them I’ll learn to articulate them a little better.

Here are some questions to start with:

How do folksonomies influence the organization of knowledge? Social tagging is my main source of interest here, but I’m also curious about historical relatives of folksonomies (e.g. common names for plants and animals vs. Latin names) and how literature contributes to the reification of language. How do readership and authorship contribute to the creation or modification of language, and the subsequent organization of information? What are the connections between these processes based in traditional texts and based in contemporary systems like tagged blog entries, del.icio.us and flickr?

How does the current trend toward user created content on the Web connect to or depart from traditional texts or earlier online presentations? In the past, literary criticism described reading as a passive activity with all agency attributed to the author; this view has slowly stretched to accommodate reader reactions to the text and acknowledge a kind of three-way conversation between the author, the reader, and culture at large. I’m hoping to draw some connections between the acts of imagination that a text requires of its readers and the user input required for the success of sites that depend on user created content. Increasingly, consumers are buying into products that allow them to do something or participate in a community, rather than paying for a tangible and complete object—is this changing the role of the reader as well? There’s also an unsanctioned side to user created content—people use technology in ways never thought of by developers. Is this a form of resistance to power, whether or not the user intends it? Is Michel de Certeau’s work on “The Practice of Everyday Life” a useful tool for looking at user created content?

What effect does the presentation of information have on reading and writing? In his article, “Transcendental Data: Toward a Cultural History and Aesthetics of the New Encoded Discourse” (Critical Inquiry 31:1, Autumn 2004, p.29), Alan Liu points out that early Web pages were programmed as a whole, with content and form dictated by the same document. Now, gradually, form and content on the Web are separating (e.g. content might be in XML, style might be in XSLT). The drift isn’t very visible to most users unless they’re looking at a page’s code, but if this way of organizing information is underlying a major means of communication, how will it impact culture, especially literature and literary criticism?

These questions all interest me, but on a larger scale, I’m curious about what I perceive as the twin pleasures of literature and technology– Why does XML resonate like Roman poetry, and what do folksonomies and user created content have in common with the myths or folklore we keep repeating to ourselves?

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One response to “Hello and Welcome

  1. i just bloglined and delicioused your page – 🙂 this is facinating, cant wait to read more.

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