Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Week 2

Delighted to meet all of you. My name is Crystal, and this is my first semester of library school. I graduated from UW-Eau Claire this May and worked at their campus library for five years. Now I work at Madison's university archives and at the education library. Like many of you, I had trouble following the readings. I was an English major in undergrad, so I feel a little embarrassed to admit that, haha. Here's what I did gather.

Braman really analyzes the concept of information as in three different ways: information as a resource, commodity, or as a perception of pattern. Of her three takes on information, I preferred the idea of information as a perception of pattern, as that definition gives way to thinking about how we use information in a variety of contexts. While reading this article, I thought about how I would define the term "perception of pattern", and I would summarize it as the culture, environment, and time the information is used, and how it is understood during that time (and will be in the future). This perception seems to have more leeway and allows for more nuances than viewing information just as a resource to be consumed or a commodity to be bought and sold. A very specific look at "information." Rowlands also goes into different ways of defining information, but I think Braman covered it more succinctly.

Vaidhyanathan was more readable, and I enjoyed reading her thoughts on copyright policy, the history of it and how academic writing has changed through these past few centuries. My favorite line from the entire article? "Academic writing in the humanities is needlessly burdened by bad writing about what might otherwise be fascinating subjects" (Vaidhyanathan 301). Right on. The power of information is only as good as its presentation, and poor writing of a great subject can really dampen its effect on the reader.

6 comments:

  1. Hello fellow English major Crystal! I appreciated your focus on the "perception of pattern" term -- we learn better when there is a context for grounding the information. Years ago I worked for an elementary math publisher and one group of authors pushed the idea that children learn math better if there was always a context for them to use with the numbers. The lesson was not just "3 + 4 = 7," but "3 apples + 4 apples = 7 apples." I think we had "context boxes" with all the problems so teachers were constantly reminded about the need for context. I also agree with you about the copyright part of Vaidhyanathan's article. "Copyright used to be boring" -- it's certainly not boring anymore and I know we'll get to that more in the rest of the class.

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  2. Crystal, I also liked that line from Vaidhyanathan. I've long agreed with that perspective. It's not just the skyrocketing cost of journals that exclude the general public (and increasingly many smaller colleges as well) from access to scholarly work the horrible, obtuse writing is just as guilty.

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  3. I have to comment on that line from Vaidhyanathan too (since I underlined and starred it!). Especially after reading the previous two articles that were sprinkled with jargon and specifics, it was refreshing to hear a scholar argue that an article can still carry weight and prove to be more valuable if it's written well and less burdensome to read. I know that I absorbed Vaidhyanathans ideas more readily as a result of his writing style. If I would have known Vaidhynathan was a professor of law before approaching this article, I would have groaned. But, he's true to his mission, in that he's reaching across disciplines by finding common ground on which to define these principles of information. Thus, allowing for more interdisciplinary collaboration by not excluding potential contributors through use of jargon and overly technical detail. He's getting to the root of the issues of defining information and seeking out a way to provide a culturally, and wide-reaching definition of these terms so we can clearly guide our policies in this realm.

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  4. Crystal, Thank you for clarifying what the articles were about. I had a really hard time trying to decipher what was being said. I also liked that line from Vaidhynathan. I agree that poor writing on an interesting subject can certainly turn someone off of that subject!

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  5. Way to go, Crystal and colleagues! What struck me as I read all the posts and replies were the varying directions from which this week's blog authors approached the readings and then made them more understandable.

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  6. Crystal,

    I really liked your comment, “The power of information is only as good as its presentation”. This was true with Einstein and his Theory of Relativity. Back in the day (early 1900s), Einstein had written his theory and it was largely ignored by both scientists and the public. However, when some physicists began testing his theory, and they found out that it MIGHT be true, the media picked up on the story and THEN Einstein started to become a house hold name. In fact, the more attention he got, the harder his scientific opponents pushed to disprove his ideas…and the cycle progressed and the debate gained intensity exponentially. Therefore, it may be said that the Theory of Relativity might never have been scrutinized and supported by evidence if it were not for the media – who were able to take a complex topic and explain it (presentation) to the public.

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