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Christina's LIS Rant
Thursday, November 08, 2007
  Guess I'm a cognitivist, but I'm ok with that
Mark Lindner and I have some really strange disagreements. Finally at ASIST he was like: that's so cognitivist (or something like that). Funny. So it turns out that this might explain a lot of our disconnects; that is, his library school is from the phenomenological or philosophical version of library science where mine is more from the cognitive world. We talk about mental models and schema and things like that where Mark (and his school, perhaps) talks prescriptively about how we can know, epistemology, and ontology -- as in meaning, not as in an information representation system. We learned cataloging as providing access for the user (what will help the people who could use this book find it); he talks about ... well read his blog :)

huh.

So today I attended a really cool research presentation at mpow by an information studies doctoral student who is a cognitive psychologist by training (I won't blow her cover completely by linking to her but she's welcome to comment here if she finds this). She presented at ASIST, too, but I didn't get a chance to meet her so it was very convenient to have her come speak at a 20 second walk from my desk :) She's looking at how people in groups label or tag things for themselves to find later or for other people to find later. She's looking at different variations on common ground and what impact that has. Another thing that really points out her psychology background is that fact that she's actually running experiments! No kidding. So that ought to be a different take on things from the normal ASIST route. I'm very much looking forward to reading her dissertation -- in a year or so...
 
Comments:
What? I don't understand what you are talking about? ;)

Seriously though, you can't blame anything I think on my program. We have folks of all stripes here. Many of them are not overtly committed to one approach or another. This is not to say that they aren't committed to a particular approach, just that they don't "preach" it to us.

There are a couple folks who are highly philosophical and I love them dearly, but they are also wrong. :) Philosophical tools can only take one so far, just as cognitivism (or any other view) can only answer certain questions and only in certain ways. That is the problem with a strict commitment to one paradigm/view/whatever we are calling them.

I sure hope (and do think) that I learned cataloging as providing access to the user. And I hope that is what I attempt to do on a daily basis. A cognitivist approach can tell me some things to do that job better, but there is an awful lot that it cannot.

And experiments are great; if they are the right kind of experiment for the right question, and then not overly generalized like many of the past ones in our field.

In fact, aren't I the one who called our field Library and Information Ancedotes due to the lack of actual data, experimental and otherwise?

I'd LOVE to see many more experiments, of many kinds. But there is only so much that trying to get inside the heads of users can tell us. All of the answers are not there.

And we really don't disagree that much. I think that I work at actively disagreeing with you because I know that you will challenge me to consider another view, to learn, and to grow. Disagreeing with many people is a complete waste of time as they won't help one learn.

So thanks for being my occasional foil, and moreso for always teaching.
 
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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
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