Category Archives: knowledge management

Classifying Information: Foucault to Librarians

No, I don’t mean “classified information” as in “restricted access.” I mean, ways to classify data, content, pieces of information, books, tracks…

Listened, a few days ago, to two podcasts in a row which gave special attention to information processing in relationship with library systems. The more I learn about them, the more librarians fascinate me.

The first podcast was a ROS episode similar in insight to Foucault’s The Order of Things (Les mots et les choses). Less historical emphasis, but some look into classifier authority. Lydon seemed surprised by the concept of “folksonomy,” which came to refer to community-based taxonomies during the “Web 2.0” era.

In the second podcast, Jon Udell’s Interviews with Innovators, Art Rhyno was reestablishing information-based authority, to a certain extent. Thanks in part to this show, I now have a better grasp of my own attitude toward authority in information and knowledge management (the description of which will have to wait for another post).

Medici and Innovation

First encountered the notion of the Medici effect through this interview with Frans Johansson in Ubiquity, a journal frequently mentioned on the Humanist Discussion Group.
A recent article about important changes coming from simple ideas made me post a short blog entry about changes from simple ideas. Interestingly enough, Johansson himself posted a comment to that entry.
This is in fact a frequent stream of thought, for me. In both business and academia, we tend to live through ideas. Specific ideas. Especially those which can generate money or research projects. An important dimension of the “Medici Effect” seems to be that simple ideas can lead to great accomplishments. Another important dimension is that ideas are both generated in and implemented by groups. Some social contexts seem especially conducive to new ideas. This perspective is well-known enough that even Denys Arcand’s Invasions Barbares had something to say about it.
There’s a lot of directions one could take to talk about innovation from that point. Among the possible threads: artistic creativity, personal innovation, sense of discovery, the economies of ideas, ideas come from the people, “intellectual property,” fluid/organic innovation, boundless ideas, innovation through links between ideas, Lavoisier on ideas (nothing is created or lost, everything is transformed, including ideas), and so on and so forth.
My personal feeling is that the very concept of innovation has become something of a “core value” for a number of people, especially in industrialized society. The type of “newer is better” view of “progress” in both society and technology.
In my mind, the best thing to do is simply to bring ideas together, a “shock of ideas” («le choc des idées»). Hence the long list of tags… 😉