Stylish Writing - Jill Lepore

For one of my classes this semester we’ve been reading Stylish Academic Writing by Helen Sword. The goal of the class is to help PhD students learn about the value of research, with a particular focus on accessible research that makes a significant difference in a particular community and (hopefully) the world. Too often valuable research results are packaged up in dry containers, that are generally unaccessible to other members of the field, and all the smart people and interested people outside of the academic community. We’re reading Sword’s book to learn some techniques for helping make this happen.

Computer Assisted Appraisal in Web Archives

In 2008 Google estimated that it had 1 trillion unique URLs in its index (Alpert & Hajaj, 2008). When I looked today (7 years later) the Internet Archive’s home page announced that it has archived 438 billion Web pages, or 43.8% of the Web. Of course the Web has grown many times in the last 7 years, and the Internet Archive itself takes multiple snapshots of the same URL–so the actual coverage is much, much lower.

Seminar Week 4

In this week’s seminar we left the discussion of information and began looking at the theory of design writ large, with a few focused readings, and a lecture from Professor Findlater. One of the key things I took from the lecture was the distinction between User Experience and Usability. The usability of an object speaks to its functionality, and how easy it is for people to use it. User Experience on the other hand is more of an affective measure of how users perceive or think about the device, which may not always be congruent with it’s usability. It’s an interesting distinction, which I wasn’t really conscious of before.

Three Papers, Three Cultures

Here are my reading notes for week 4 of the Engaged Intellectual. Superficially these papers seemed oriented around the three cultures of social science, the humanities and the physical sciences. But there were some interesting cross-currents between them.

Seminar Week 3

In this week’s class we discussed three readings: (Bates, 1999), (Dillon & Norris, 2005) and (Manzari, 2013). This was our last general set of readings about information science before diving into some of the specialized areas. I wrote about my reaction to Bates over in Red Thread.

Bates, M. (1999). The invisible substrate of information science. Journal of the Society for Information Science, 50(12), 1043–1050.

Dillon, A., & Norris, A. (2005). Crying wolf: An examination and reconsideration of the perception of crisis in lis educatino. Journal of Education in Library and Information Science.

Manzari, L. (2013). Library and information science journal prestige as assessed by library and information science faculty. Library Quarterly, 83, 42–60.

Zombie Information Science

One of the readings for INST800 this week was Bates (2007). It’s a short piece that outlines how she and Mary Maack organized their work on the third edition of the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences. When creating an encyclopedia it becomes immediately necessary to define the scope, so you have some hope of finishing the work. As she points out, information science is contested territory now because of all the money and power that is aggregated in Silicon Valley. Everyone wants a piece of it now, whereas it has struggled to be a discipline before people started billion dollar companies in their garages:

Bates, M. J. (2007). Defining the information disciplines in encyclopedia development. Information Research, 12. Retrieved from

Red Thread

Bates, M. (1999). The invisible substrate of information science. Journal of the Society for Information Science, 50(12):1043–1050.

Seminar Week 2

Here are my working notes for the readings this week in INST888. At some point I will try to integrate the annotations I am making using, perhaps via some JavaScript that pulls them into this page.

Seminar Week 1

These are some notes for the readings from my first Seminar class. It’s really just a test to see if my BibTeX/Jekyll/Pandoc integration is working. More about that in a future post hopefully…


As you can see, I’ve recently changed things around here at Yeah, it’s looking quite spartan at the moment, although I’m hoping that will change in the coming year. I really wanted to optimize this space for writing in my favorite editor, and making it easy to publish and preserve the content. Wordpress has served me well over the last 10 years and up till now I’ve resisted the urge to switch over to a static site. But yesterday I converted the 394 posts, archived the Wordpress site and database, and am now using Jekyll. I haven’t been using Ruby as much in the past few years, but the tooling around Jekyll feels very solid, especially given GitHub’s investment in it.