Explorations in the Libroverse
Adriaan Van der Weel
The ‘Knowledge System’.
Adrian Van der Weel (2011) : Jonathan Vernon (2012)
Order (as reflected in shelving and cataloguing systems) : Lack of order (as reflected in the ‘enter@random’ choice in extensive blogs)
Closure (each book being a finished account of a certain area of knowledge): Openness (not just text open to rewriting, but readily available and never finished)
Though Van der Weel quotes Conrad Gessner’s Bibliotheca universalis, begun in 1545 and never completed.
Stability (enabling readers at other times and places to consult the same knowledge : Unstable (with a warning, there is always a timeline that records wiki-like all additions and adjustments)
- Registration (the books’ title pages almost without exception attributing the texts to known authors)
- Attribution through URL links, tags and other metadata.
- Authority (the texts having been deemed of sufficient quality to have been enshrined in print)
- Authority derived in the same way through ‘digital scholarship’ but also through popularity, through appeal, for vicarious review and dissipation.
Continuity / Evolution
‘The knowledge system serves to create, disseminate, consult and preserve knowledge by recording, multiplying and distributing it, describing it bibliographically and collecting it in physical (or as we say in a world that is rapidly becoming dominated by the virtual, ‘brick-and-mortar’) depositories such as libraries, in the stable material form of print’. (Van der Weel, 2011)
Van der Weel’s suggestion (2011) that by juxtaposing this physical libroverse of the past and present, with the ‘docuverse’ of the present and future (a term coined by Theodore ‘Ted’ Nelson who also coined the term hypertext) that ‘the docuverse as a universe of linked digital documents is a much more revolutionary departure from existing textual practices in the libroverse than even the most die-hard preacher of the digital gospel has proclaimed so far’.
Ted Nelson (From Wikipedia) coined the terms ‘hypertext’ and ‘hypermedia’ in a model he developed for creating and using linked content (first published reference 1965). He later worked with Andries van Dam to develop the Hypertext Editing System in 1967 at Brown University.
• Mircofilm and Memex
• Digital continues analogue practices
Discontinuity / Revolution
• Because text is now thrown in with everything else that is digitised.
• It in unstable and open.
• Digitization replacing indexing.
• Multiple authorship.
• Amateur scholarship.
• Raw thought rather than cogitated and peer reviewed.
‘The multimodal nature of the digital environment, seamlessly integrating text, still images, graphs, moving images, speech and music, enables very different forms of knowledge inscription than the preponderantly textual one that has reigned supreme for so many centuries. Ultimately this might spell the end of the privileged position of text as the basis for the dissemination of knowledge’. (Van de Weer, 2011)
‘The porosity of the boundary between knowledge that is the result of a process of ‘digestion’ (rational deliberation, or however one may wish to define scholarship) and knowledge that is left implicit in the raw materials presented’. (Van der Veer, 2011:39)
The digital ocean (Vernon, 2010)
‘This means that, whether as scholars, publishers, librarians or archivists, however hard we are trying to dam the tide of innovation and change, through such aids as metadata, controlled vocabularies, ontologies and preservation schemes, we are bound always to lag behind’. (Van der Veer, 2011:40)
‘This new knowledge paradigm is a ‘free for all,’ where the ‘system’ is replaced by the network. In negotiating this massive network of information – this ‘world brain’ – we may need to learn entirely new ways to extract the knowledge that we seek’. (Van der Veer, 2011:42)
Ontology (From Wikipedia) Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.
Van der Weel, A (2010) ‘New mediums: New perspectives on knowledge production,’ in Wido van Peursen et al. (eds), Text comparison and digital creativity: The production of presence and meaning in digital text scholarship (Leiden: Brill, 2010), pp. 253–68.
Van der Weel, A (2011) Explorations in the libroverse. In GOING DIGITAL: Evolutionary and revolutionary aspects of digitization (from the 147th Nobel Symposium June 23-26, 2009. Published 2011) Nobel Symbosia. Karl Grandin ed. (Last accessed 22nd May 2012 http://www.center.kva.se/svenska/forskning/NS147Abstracts/KVA_Going_Digital_webb.pdf )
Sterne, L (1759-1767) Tristram Shandy
‘Both absolutely, as the population grows, and relatively, as a percentage of the population, the number of people thronging to gain access to the net continues to grow, and with it the power to add to or change the digital textual record’. (Van der Weel, 2011:40)
Time magazine characterised this development well in 2006 by electing as their ‘person of the year:’ You (Time, 13 December 2006).
‘Messy shapes of knowledge: STS explores informatization, new media, and academic work,’ in The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, eds. E. J. Hackett, O. Amsterdamska,
James Surowiecki, The wisdom of crowds, New York, 2004.
Cf. also Cass R. Sunstein, Infotopia: How many minds produce knowledge (OUP , 2006)
David Weinberger, Everything is miscellaneous: The power of the new digital disorder (New York, 2008).
Stephen J. Gould, ‘The evolution of life on earth,’ Scientific American, 271 (October 1994): pp. 85–91
(STEPHEN JAY GOULD teaches biology, geology and the history of science at Harvard University, where he has been on the faculty since 1967).