Checking out the Science of Science

An interesting article published in Science Magazine looks at the Science of Science (SciSci).  The promise is that when Science studies itself through an iterative process, it will better itself, thus better the world.  

Science as a subject for itself is fair enough, although it does raise the question of what SciSci looks at when it looks at Science.  One plausible answer is demonstrably quantifiable Science artifacts — a fancy way of saying looking at wiring under the board of Science for stuff we can measure.  

The article explains Science as “a complex, self-organizing, and evolving network of scholars, projects, papers, and ideas,” which is odd as the description is missing the Scientific Method.  However, the framing of Science in this manner is vital as it relates to the method of examination used in the article. In this view, Science is primarily an iterative social process of knowledge production that establishes itself in complex networks of artifacts.  These artifacts, like books and articles, mean that Science is intertextual, it is an idea rooted in a system of texts. However, there seem to be various other artifacts of Science to examine quantitatively too, as an example, who pays for the study, what came of the research, partnerships, scientist moving around institutions, and citations.  SciSci’s examination of these all-inclusive elements delineates some of the backings of Science as a forward-moving social process.

The big idea of SciSci, seemingly, is that a greater understanding of what supports Science leads ultimately to a healthier world.  That Science can give us better Science ultimately means enabling us to do better things. A rather rosy picture of Science that seems to forget all of the bad stuff but, still, nonetheless reasonably accurate. 

The article goes on about problem selection, career projections, collaborations, and citation analysis, which are telltale signs of the transdisciplinary.  SciSci spans scientometrics, innovation studies, econometrics, statistics, “network science approaches, machine-learning algorithms, mathematical analysis, and computer simulation, including agent-based modeling.”  Combined, these disciplines form a net made of quantitative interlocking methodologies that can examine the underlying structure of Science, so they say. 

Early in the article, an example of the type of SciSci findings is given, “finding that small teams tend to disrupt Science and technology with new ideas drawing on older and less prevalent ones. In contrast, large teams tend to develop modern, fashionable ideas, obtaining high, but often short-lived, impact.”  So the results of the SciSci method may allow for strategies to stimulate scientific development and in turn, make the world a better place. Perhaps.



In some levels of abstraction, we are living information. 

This line of thought is confusing to many as they are pretty sure they are made of physical matter and not information.  

It all depends on how you look at the world.

People, made of the stuff of the universe, are self-conscious amalgamations of matter, as far as we know.  

Our minds are transcendentally emergent from complex physical systems, so we are made possible by the affordances of higher levels of complexity.

When we think of us, we use the information encountered about us and our circumstances for furthering knowledge of the experience.  

Since when we think of ourselves, we are thinking of information about ourselves, location of keys, relationship to friends, and the like. 

We can not escape being information to ourselves and others, we use it to think and communicate what we believe, and all considerations are in the end information.   

In this view, everything is information to a mind made of information.

That wasn’t compelling, so let us try something more persuasive.

We can test software in programs that act like machines.  A computer runs a program dedicated to working like another computer, and that second program runs the third application.   

In some views, it doesn’t matter that a program (a process of data) is acting as a physical machine by running another program.

Our brain invoking a mind that thinks of itself thinking of itself means the mind can refer back to itself as an object that informs.  

Self-referential informational intentionality experiences consciousness as information of itself.

Since you are always information to yourself and others, it isn’t too far off to think of yourself as information.


The Library News

I’ve rebooted, this time older and wiser. The original site had many pages of many RSS feeds from lots of library sites.
The coverage was awesome but the load times were bad, no fun. This time around the load times are much better and the site is sleeker.

I’ve decided to focus on Twitter pages of North American library associations instead of cool library blogs. I have a space in my heart for cool library blogs but library associations have consistent news while blogger post when they/we can.

The Library News site is a WordPress site hosted by DreamHost, unlike this blog which is hosted by which I have mixed feelings about, stuff for another post. Suffice it to say it is fulfilling when a side project works.

Librarians And Your Odd Questions

As far as I am aware, the public reference librarian is the only job where anyone can ask nearly any conceivable question and get a fair answer. That is an odd place to hold in society.

Yet, there is something of comfort knowing that there is someone designated to answer the questions of the public. A universal need for information necessitated the position, the sheer division of labor in society required a person to answer questions in general. And that lucky person is the librarian.

Librarians of all domains get asked odd questions. By odd I mean a mixture of quirky and tricky to answer that very well might catch the librarian off guard. These are the best questions for some librarians as they require deep dives into unknown information rabbit holes. Whole new worlds can be explored while chasing down an answer. It can be a hell of a ride.

There are limitations to odd questions, for example, librarians cannot locate your lost keys (which you just had in your hands) or tell you where the cat is hiding. However, if you lost your keys in the library, they might be in the lost and found, and there might be books on cat behavior. Librarians also don’t give medical or legal advice but alternatively, offer materials on medicine and law. Deep questions like the meaning of life will be directed to works of philosophy and theology. The goal is never to avoid the odd question, just help the patron along in their quest.

So ask your librarian odd questions, explore the limits of your curiosity. Life can be so fascinating when unusual thoughts are explored. And don’t feel weird about it, the librarian is on your side.

The future belongs to the curious, The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it and turn it inside out

Handy List of Some Library Journal Websites

Keeping track of library literature can be taxing. Here is a list of some library journals websites to make matters easier.

American Archivist


Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

The Charleston Advisor

Children and Libraries

College & Research Libraries

Communications in Information Literacy

Evidence Based Library and Information Practice

In the Library with the Lead Pipe

Internet Research (journal)

Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship

Italian Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science

Journal of Academic Librarianship

Journal of Documentation

Journal of Library Administration

The Library Quarterly

Library Review (journal)

Reference and User Services Quarterly

Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet

Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet

Life On The Screen was published in 1995, much has changed on the net but the essence of the work is still relevant making it a good book to read in our time.  It merits buying, the section on “Making a Pass at a Robot” is worth the price of admission alone, plus it has as been Cited by 13216 works.

At play is the essence of identity in the context of the early internet, especially in games that allow exploration of sex, gender, and even species. Investigated is the experience of persona personified when limited only by the imagination, revealing the borders we negotiate in our conception of self.  This is more than a psychological investment in a social video game or social media profile, it is a tracing of the edges of what we recognize to be ourselves.

Further than how we interact with technologies that mediate communication is the question of how we relate to technology as a part of the self, what does technology mean for our “aboutness?”  What do the boundaries between human and machine mean in a world where we describe the mind as a machine and a machine as a mind? Tricky and fun to read about.

Here are some links if you would like further information. (to get the book at your library) link (nice run down of some ideas) link

A Lesson From Professional Wrestling

When I was a young lad watching professional wrestling, every now and then the heels (bad guys) would get the titles, usually by cheating the face (good guys). In the mind of a kid, it was dark times when the bad guys held the belts, it usually meant good guys getting beaten without mercy, referees distracted long enough for the bad guys to do something dastardly and get away with it, the wrestling universe was in discord. Dark times in the mind of a kid.

But the good guys would keep on fighting the battles with honor and valor despite the fix. And in time, despite all the cheating and tomfoolery, the good guys got the belts back, peace and justice were restored.

Wrestling ethics are mainly deontological (as in rule-based) and virtue (as in good person) framed in a meritocracy. There is a contest with fair rules by which contestants are to abide, let the better wrestler win. The world isn’t naturally a meritocracy, nature is impassive, but there is a human feeling that it should be when it comes to human culture and when it is broken we feel it.

Good vs. Evil is too simplistic a concept in a postpostmodern technocratic information society, and my childish feelings towards evildoers in tights may not be the most imaginative way of commenting on the social malaise of the times. But for some, it feels like we are living in dark times and that resonates with the young wrestling fan in me.

The full weight of history’s unraveling presses on us, the toxification of the planet, the social and economic injustice, and the pressures of technology and more conspire against us. There are tyrannical governments that do not recognize human rights, greedy corporations that exploit all between the earth and the sky, creepy lobbyists greasing the wheels of government, those on the take, and plain old fraudsters. If the world was a wrestling show, it looks like the bad guys are winning the belts.

Hulk Hogan, represented everything good and holy in America, he would battle relentlessly despite the odds. With oversized oiled muscles in stretched primary colors and with the spirit of a street preacher, he raved about the power of Hulkamania to his Hulkamaniacs. I was enthralled, I too wanted justice in the face of bad guys, I also was a proud Hulkamaniac.

Older and wiser I have moved on from hero worship and come to have a critical eye when it comes to Hulkamania, but I can’t shake that sense of youthful empowerment in the face of doom. Perhaps Hulkamania is for the absurdist hero, a desperate rally in the front of the abyss or inspiration for someone who doesn’t care about the odds.

And for me, that is the magic. In the face of crooked managers, blind ref’s, and steel chairs the good guys kept on battling virtuously. The dramatic heroics are cartoonish, I grant you, but none the less emblematic of an absurdist hero.

If we are in dark times, perhaps it is best to muster up some absurdist hope. From years of watching wrestling promos, one can marshal the intonations of a raging street preacher and channel the genuine overriding belief that the good will prevail just because.

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