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Knowledge, Information and Behavior--A Tribute to Patrick Wilson (SIG HFIS)

Brian O’Connor,; David Blair; Howard White,; Francis Miksa,; Jens-Erik Mai,

Presented at ASIST 2004 Annual Meeting; "Managing and Enhancing Information: Cultures and Conflicts" (ASIST AM 04), Providence, Rhode Island, November 13 - 18, 2004


Patrick Wilson’s writings – graceful, rigorous and not infrequently witty – have centered on the intersection among knowledge, information and human behavior. Patrick always addresses the important issues in the field, regardless of their difficulty or unpopularity. He has the uncanny ability to see through the complexity of information management to the core of the issue. He never fell into the common trap of confusing the tools of information management with the job of information management. His three books have not become dated. They represent the most penetrating investigation of fundamental ideas in information science and librarianship that anyone has yet undertaken. They are books that can be given to sophisticated readers unfamiliar with the field with the confidence that they will find our field to be complex, interesting and vital. These books have made converts to the field and attracted new researchers who are entranced and enriched by Patrick's intellectual reach. He goes from reference librarianship to research communities; from bibliographic instruction to information overload. His reference lists alone are capable of introducing readers to a great variety of contemporary work in philosophy, history and the social sciences. Patrick calls himself eclectic and that term is just and accurate. But his has not been the eclecticism of a dabbler; he has enriched the scholarship of his time with works that genuinely instruct, because he has thought so deeply about difficult questions and expressed his views on them so superbly. He espoused seeking better questions and looking at everything with passionate skepticism. The members of the panel – students of Wilson and colleagues touched by his approach – will examine the nature of his work and the role of that work in 21st century scholarship in our field.

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