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Berkeley INFO C103 - The Organization of Knowledge

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1!The Organization of Knowledge!History of Information i218!Geoff Nunberg!Feb. 18, 2010!1!2!Where We Are!Itinerary: 2/18!Defining "knowledge"!The shifting frame of knowledge; from Renaissance to Enlightenment!Early reactions to "information overload"!New conceptualizations of knowledge!The material representations of knowledge: libraries, museums, encyclopedias, dictionaries!3!4!Defining "knowledge"!Defining "knowledge"!individual senses!Oxford English Dictionary:!• The fact of knowing a thing, state, etc., or a person; familiarity gained by experience. 1771 His knowledge of human nature must be limited indeed.!"• Acquaintance with a fact; perception, or certain information of, a fact or matter. I know that we're late; She knows all the answers.!• Acquaintance with a branch of learning, a language, or the like; His knowledge of French is excellent.!"!5!Defining "knowledge"!individual senses!Oxford English Dictionary:!• The fact of knowing a thing, state, etc., or a person; familiarity gained by experience. 1771 His knowledge of human nature must be limited indeed.!"• Acquaintance with a fact; perception, or certain information of, a fact or matter. I know that we're late; She knows all the answers.!• Acquaintance with a branch of learning, a language, or the like; His knowledge of French is excellent.!Collective sense!The sum of what is known. All knowledge may be commodiously distributed into science and erudition.!"!6!Collective knowledge: the missing roles!Collective sense: knowledge as a three-place relation!The sum of what is known [about X] [by Y]!Medical knowledge vs medical information: what is the difference?!The difference between "knowlege" and "what is known."!7!What makes for "knowledge"?!What qualifies something as (collective) knowledge?!P is collectively significant (to everyone?)!"Nunberg's out of paper towels"!"Kimberly-Clark closed at $59.41 yesterday."!Paper towel consumption is 50% higher in America than in Europe.!Arthur Scott introduced the first paper towel in 1931.!8!Collective knowledge: the missing arguments!Knowledge belongs to the society.!"The third-century Chinese had knowledge of porcelain"!In that medical knowledge doubles every 3.5 years or less, by 2029, we will know at least 256 times more than we know today. !9!10!Shifting Conceptions of Knowledge, 1500-1800!Shifting Conceptions of Knowledge, 1500-1800!Renaissance understanding of knowledge!Varieties of knowledge: private/public; scientiae/artes; liberal/useful, etc. !Burke traces shifts in the "tripod" of the curriculum, library (including the bibliography) and the encyclopedia. !11!12!The 15th-Century Curriculum!The enkyklios paideia ("circle of learning"):!Trivium: grammar, logic, rhetoric!Quadrivium: arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, music!The three philosophies: ethics, metaphysics, "natural philosophy"!Higher faculties: theology, medicine, law !13!The 15th-Century Curriculum!Scholarship and education exclusively in Latin until the Renaissance!The "universal man": "A man is able to learn many things and make himself universal in many excelllent arts." Matteo Palmieri,1528 !14!The 15th-Century Curriculum!System of knowledge is "closed"; built around classical sources and religious texts (courses organized around texts, not subjects)!Organization of knowledge is fixed and "natural"!The Closed World of Knowledge!Herbarum vivae eicones ("Living Pictures of Herbs") by Otto Brunfels, 1532. Matched Swiss & German plants to those known to Pliny and Discorides, ignoring differences, with residual herbae nudae. !15!Opening the world of knowledge!Valerius Cordus, Historia plantarum 1561 (1544), published posthumously by Conrad Gesner. !Records numerous plants not described by the ancients; emphasizes differences among similar plants.!16!Opening the world of knowledge!John Ray, Historia generalis plantarum, 1686-!Classified 6100 plant species by seeds, seeds, fruit and leaves. Produced first modern defintion of the species.!"... no surer criterion for determining species has occurred to me than the distinguishing features that perpetuate themselves in propagation from seed. Thus, no matter what variations occur in the individuals or the species, if they spring from the seed of one and the same plant, they are accidental variations and not such as to distinguish a species... !“I reckon all Dogs to be of one Species, they mingling together in Generation, and the Breed of such Mixtures being prolifick”!17!Breaking with the past!It would disgrace us, now that the wide spaces of the material globe, the lands and seas, have been broached and explored, if the limits of the intellectual globe should be should be set by the narrow discoveries of the ancients. Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, 1605!18!19!Breaking with the past!Within 200 years, something like the mod, system emerges. !Responses to influences that are: !Pragmatic/material!Philosophical/academic!Symbolic/political!! (Not independent…)!The birth of "modern" classification!20!"I know no greater man on earth." Jean-Jacques Rousseau!Systema naturae 1735!The birth of "modern" classification!Plants classified into 24 classified according to length and number of stamens; further classified into orders etc.!21!Frontispiece to Linnaeus, Hortus Cliffortianus 1737!22!Pragmatic Issues:!Early Modern "Information Overload"!Pragmatic Forces:!Perceptions of "Information Overload"!Antonfrancesco Doni, 1550: there are “so many books that we do not have time to read even the titles.”!“That horrible mass of books… keeps on growing, [until] the disorder will become nearly insurmountable." Gottfried Leibniz, 1680!24!The Reorganization of Libraries!Gabriel Naudé proposes library organization scheme to “find books without labor, without trouble, and without confusion.” (1627)!Bibliothèque Mazarine (1643)!Strategies for dealing with information overload!Compendia and reference books (répertoires or trésors)!As long as the centuries continue to unfold, the number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe. It will be almost as convenient to search for some bit of truth concealed in nature as it will be to find it hidden away in an immense multitude of bound volumes.!! !—Denis Diderot, Encyclopédie,1755!Distillations!Men of good will have extracted the substance of a thousand


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