Literature/2009/Buckland

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Buckland, Michael (2009). "As We May Recall: Four Forgotten Pioneers," Interactions, vol. 16, No. 6 (November + December 2009), pp. 76-79.

Editor's Note[edit]

Occasionally in studying HCI history, I have stumbled upon large topics that I was unaware existed. Perhaps the most surprising has been the development of advanced information technologies, which preceded computers. In some ways, the constraints imposed by those technologies forced deeper thinking about information itself. In this column, Berkeley Professor Emeritus Michael Buckland describes the work of four dedicated creative pioneers.---Jonathan Grudin

Author[edit]

Michael Buckland worked as a librarian in England and has also been a library educator and academic administrator in Britain and the U.S. He is interested in the redesign of library services in a digital, network environment and in the history of bibliography and documentation. Recent work includes the biography Emanuel Goldberg and his Knowledge Machine (Libraries Unlimited, 2006). He is currently emeritus professor, School of Information and co-director, Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative, University of California, Berkeley. He served as president of the American Society for Information Science and Technology in 1998. For more information visit, http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~buckland

Summary[edit]

All four of the individuals spotlighted in this article contributed to the tools, methods, and theory we take for granted today, yet all four remain relatively forgotten. Please, take a minute to recall these pioneers. [c 1]

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Chronology[edit]

Comments[edit]

  1. This essay looks like a summary of the concerns of Michael Buckland, the author himself, and Boyd Rayward. Buckland is an expert of Emanuel Goldberg and perhaps as successful critic of Vannevar Bush as Robert Fairthorne in the 1950s. Rayward is an expert of Paul Otlet and perhaps unsuccessful critic of H. G. Wells. This essay seems to focus on Otlet (1868-1944) above all, whose "FID was dissolved in 2002," hence endangering his main achievement, UDC. Librarians should have kept FID from dissolving as far as UDC is useful. Put otherwise, UDC of little use may have resulted in FID of such use. What is wrong with it? It is an artificial vocabulary of extremely unfriendly decimal terms in the sophisticated, complicated conceptual hierarchy that Vannevar Bush definitely disliked. It competes with the controlled and uncontrolled (natural linguistic) words. Any ways would have been taken for granted as far as the "word magic" (1923/Ogden) or textualism remained undoubted, say, until 1975 when the world view made a Copernican revolution indeed, however unsaid and obscured. Obscured before that may have been such revolutions as 1923/Ogden, 1929/Magritte, 1933/Magritte, and so on, perhaps by the invisible hand.

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Gradient-optical-illusion.svg
The shade of the bar looks invariant in isolation but variant in context, in (favor of) sharp contrast with the color gradient background, hence an innate illusion we have to reasonably interpret and overcome as well as the mirage. Such variance appearing seasonably from context to context may not only be the case with our vision but worldview in general in practice indeed, whether a priori or a posteriori. Perhaps no worldview from nowhere, without any point of view or prejudice at all!

Ogden & Richards (1923) said, "All experience ... is either enjoyed or interpreted ... or both, and very little of it escapes some degree of interpretation."

H. G. Wells (1938) said, "The human individual is born now to live in a society for which his fundamental instincts are altogether inadequate."