How far down the rabbit holes can I fall, and can I then tunnel between them whilst still falling?
Do I deserve my “little ducklings” or would I be better served by spectators at my self-immolation?
I offer the ducklings/spectators the option of deciding for themselves and changing their minds as they see fit, just as I reserve the right to change what I think I’m doing here.
I’m not sure that I’m really ready for this (the announcement, not the work) but I have decided on the topic for my CAS project, which since it came “soon enough” in the semester has changed my topic for my bibliography in Bibliography class this semester.
For Bibliography I had decided, and significantly begun, on the (primary) English-language publications of Dr. Birger Hjørland. Based on my wide-ranging interests and readings of the last several months I had been attracted to more and more of his articles and ideas. He also has a fairly representative list of publications available on his website, though it is not complete. A few A&I searches, luck, and ensuring that the “right people” know of my interest and I quickly have a pretty close to exhaustive list. Much of it is available electronically and much more will be as soon as Knowledge Organization gets online. I now have almost everything printed or photocopied and in 2 large binders (except for his book which remains pristinely non-hole punched).
I was really looking forward to (and had begun) reading this substantial amount of material chronologically. How many of us have ever had the opportunity to do such a thing and literally observe (as much as possible via published output) someone’s views develop over time?
But a choice of CAS project topic forced a shift. As I said previously (and even earlier in other venues), one of the possible things to address during Bibliography was “compiling my working bibliography for my CAS project.” But as the semester began I still had no idea what I was going to do for my project.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I “knew” my topic. But it has taken several weeks and multiple conversations to go from the idea that my topic could only be addressed as a dissertation, to it being doable if I take the “long route” to finishing my CAS by getting a job first, to “Suck it up, dude! You can do this in a semester” to “Yes, I have it and damn it, I’m excited about it!”
So what is my topic? Well, I actually did a better job giving it away the other day than I feel up to at the moment. But simply put, I am going to attempt to apply Integrationism to the field of LIS [see both links for more details.]
What does this mean for my immersion in Dr. Hjørland’s work? At least two points come immediately to mind. First, of the major epistemological viewpoints or “paradigms” in LIS, I see his approach “(the ‘sociological-epistemological paradigm’ or the ‘domain analytic approach’)” (Hjørland, 1998, 611) as the only one (currently) capable of embracing an integrationist perspective. Second, it is a handful of his articles which have seriously allowed me to see (or perhaps crystallize for me ) some of the overarching themes, stances, viewpoints, paradigms, and so on in our field. Thus, much of his work remains critically important to my further work and, in particular, to my CAS project topic.
For instance, I took myself out for dinner and drinks this evening and read the intro chapter to his book (1997) and took notes. There are several places where his language practically screams Integrationism.
As for my bibliography itself, it has gone from being boldly reaching in quantity but well defined and bounded to highly amorphous and about as vaguely defined as possible. But I absolutely adore Dr. Krummel for allowing me to take this route. I have not completely shifted to Harris (and/or Integrationism) as that is a much bigger topic for a bibliography. What I am theoretically focusing on at the moment are the points of contact between Harris and Hjørland. Depth and not quantity is the operative word now. Quality was always the operative word and still is.
Dr. Krummel said he is completely unconcerned about the number of entries that are in the final bibliography and that my focus is on the direct points of contact while including and defining the grey areas to either side as best as I can. That leeway and trust seriously frees me up to do some important exploratory work. I can read the things I was reading anyway, albeit in a different light, and include the things I consider important without having to worry about reading pretty much a whole body of work.
Have I leapt in over my head? Again? Probably. But I am fired up about this whole project! Hell, I even seem to be turning into a proper researcher and doing well thought out searches, considering what kind of sources I need for each aspect of my project, talking to subject librarians, and so on.
I have been making so many book purchases lately that the credit union contacted me to make sure someone hadn’t stolen my debit card info. I have mostly been buying Harris books, but I ordered 2 proceedings last night with papers by Hjørland in them. In most cases I have library copies available and even in my possession. But I want and/or need these for myself.
Today I had another productive conversation with Kathryn because she is my advisor and because Dr. Krummel insisted that I keep in touch with her about all of this. What an easy demand to meet! As my ideas have been coalescing to morphing to coalescing again I have been wavering about whether I was going/needed to meet with Dr. Hjørland one-on-one when he comes to visit soon. Today I scheduled this meeting.
Now I have an ambitious list of things to address in preparation for making this a productive meeting for both of us. I need to read some of and re-read some others of Dr. Hjørland’s publications, same for Harris, hopefully have a productive talk with The Improbable Don Quixote, make some short overview sketches, and try to have a short overview document of “the issues” as I see them for Dr. Hjørland’s convenience a day or two in advance.
“Yeah.” Anyone got a match?
Seriously though. I am absolutely stoked! Perhaps I’m just too stupid to be more than a itty-bitty bit concerned about what I’m getting myself into. Perhaps I expect too much of myself. But I want this.
I do not expect to revolutionize the world or even LIS. I certainly do not expect to solve anything. Even if I managed the first I wouldn’t accomplish the second. But I can do a good job of laying out what I see as a major problem area in our field. I can point to some overlap and points of contact between two major theoreticians.
Best of all possible outcomes? Who knows?
Success? Spark a few interests and start a conversation. That is what I am aiming for. Well, and a tad bit of learning for mself along the way. 😉
The upside for the moment is that it keeps me out of the biblioblogosphere for a while. Perhaps a very good thing? Cause some of you folks … yeah, I got some things to say and they may not be exactly endearing. But some of you really need to come down off your high horses. Sure, you’ve got some valid points but it simply is not the case that we all learn the same nor is it always the case that trying to take a middle road or questioning is meant to be obstructionist. The place has become mighty fractious (and worse) again. Disagreement I like. Veiled name-calling, belittling, “just get on board,” and “my way is the right way” are not disagreement and they are certainly not discussion. They are condescending, they are threatening, and they are wrong. OK, done.
See what I mean? Probably best I have no time to get into all this at the moment.
Hjørland, Birger. “Theory and Metatheory of Information Science: A New Interpretation.” Journal of Documentation. 54.5 (1998): 606-621.
Hjørland, Birger. Information Seeking and Subject Representation: An Activity-theoretical Approach to Information Science. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1997.