Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Sources of Fiction?

The sociology of information overlaps (or, in a grandiose moment, subsumes) the sociology of knowledge and related fields. In this corner of its sandbox, we find topics such as considerations of authorship, authority, information "ownership," and provenance as well as how much meta-information must/should attach to a given information "emission." In today's NYT JULIE BOSMAN reports on a contemporary phenomenon of interest: the inclusion of bibliographies in works of fiction.

Multiple issues on the table: blurring genre lines between fiction and nonfiction; legal concerns (see Hadfield on lexigenesis); intimidating readers vs. impressing them (marketing); getting credit for hard work (authors); naive claim that authors who include bibliography do do research, others do not; padding bibliographies to look sophisticated; what counts as "a lot of reading"?; divergence of purpose -- suggesting to readers where they can go for more vs. documenting where ideas came from. Bosman sees continuity between emergence of acknowledgements in fiction (apparently a relatively recent thing) and bibliographies and compares them to Oscar thank you speeches. In addition to hinting that both are a sort of potlatch of back patting and such, this nicely captures the contradictory pulls between humble recognition that one does not do it alone and attempts to impress by attaching oneself to other stars.

Works Cited

Bosman, Julie. 2006. "Loved His New Novel, and What a Bibliography." New York Times, 5 December 2006.

Hadfield, Gillian. n.d. "Lexigenesis." Unpublished manuscript.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Organizations, e-information and the law...

On NPR's Morning Edition, reporter Ari Shapiro's "New Rules on Retaining Digital Business Documents" described rules "that help companies decide how many e-mails and other digital items they have to keep in case someone sues them and demands the documents be brought to court. Even small companies can generate millions of digital documents in a very short time, and systems for managing them can be expensive." (NPR 2006)

Consider Weber's observation that maintaining written records is a hallmark of bureaucratization. He was primarily observing the internal rationalization of organization. Information retention rules would seem to push things at the other end of the spectrum and a sort of external rationalization oriented
not toward organizational performance but rather the organization's existence in a social context. Hmmm.

See Also

uscourts.gov 2006.
E-Discovery Amendments and Committee Notes

Can a "realization" change the world?

Generic notion #257b. Consider the quote that begins "When IBM realized that it was not in the office automation business but rather the information processing business, everything changed...." Is there a generic term for this kind of realization? Part of it is just coming to see the truth, overcoming illusions, getting it right finally. But there seems to be a separate dimension here, something other than just coming to a correct empirical understanding of the world. One piece of this seems to be reframing; the realization has implications for re-interpreting other information and re-channeling how actions will be based on existing information/knowledge. Hints here, then, of a sort of "paradigm shift" (to use an overused and misused term). Hmmm, back to work.