by Irene Travis,
editor of the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science
The 1998 Annual Meeting's focus on access in a global information economy provided an array of interesting and stimulating sessions and many delectable tidbits. For those who could not join us or could not be in multiple places simultaneously, this issue provides a sample of the meeting fare. Steve Hardin again agreed to report the plenary speeches. The two plenary speakers were Herb Simon, Nobel Laureate in economics from Carnegie-Mellon University, and Hal Varian, economist and dean of the School of Information Management and Systems at the University of California at Berkeley.
Simon, who received the ASIS Special Award for his many contributions to the study of problems relating to information use and society, discusses issues around the evolution of human society as we absorb the increasing capabilities of computers.
In the second plenary session, Varian disputes the thesis that networking has introduced problems in information economics that are fundamentally different from those already encountered in the print world. I hope that papers from the third plenary session, a panel on universal telecommunications service, will appear in a later issue of the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science.
The history of information science was also much in evidence, particularly at the first Conference on the History and Heritage of Science Information Systems, which directly preceded the Annual Meeting and was co-sponsored by ASIS and the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Boyd Rayward provides a perspective on that event.
The ASIS Award of Merit also often provokes its recipients to reflect on the field, and Henry Small, this year's recipient, is no exception. He gives us a fascinating tour of that unique intersection between information science and the history of science that is provided by the study of patterns of scientific publication, particularly co-citation.
And finally, a serving of the technical sessions: Bella Hass Weinberg was the invited reactor to one of the last sessions of the meeting, Improved Internet Access: Guidance from Research on Indexing and Classification, sponsored by SIGs/CR, CRS, ALP and IAE. Knowing that Bella can always be counted upon to provide a lively and thought-provoking discussion, I asked for her paper. We have been well-rewarded with a piece that goes far beyond the usual commentary for a session in its preparation and scholarship. When I read the draft of Bella's paper, I thought that she had invented a new phenomenon, the "eternal" Web link, which was most appropriate in the context of her paper. She claims, however, that it was only a typo. I "corrected" it (to external) with regret. Bon appetit.
We expect presentations from other technical sessions to appear in future issues of the Bulletin.