AM Panels & Technical Sessions 2009 START Conference Manager    

Narratives, Facts, and Events in the Foundations of Information Science

Michael Buckland, Thomas Dousa and Ryan Shaw

(Submission #14)


The humanities and social sciences are concerned with the human experience. Sciences too deal with actions, processes and interactions. So information systems are concerned with events, but can operate only on objects (bits, books, “documents”) – and events are not objects. Suzanne Briet wrote that “a document is evidence in support of a fact,” but “facts” (like “data”) have no meaning absent a narrative explanations. Three papers address notions of narrative and event in the foundations of Information Science. Ryan Shaw, in What happened? What events are and why we should care, theorizes the past as idealized images of people, places, events, and ideas. Events, however, have not received the specialized treatment that people and places have. Events are entities of interest in their own right and as bundles of semantic relationships among other entities. Digitalization requires and enables for improved access. A model based in constructionist epistemology is presented. Thomas Dousa, in Facts and frameworks in Paul Otlet’s and Julius Otto Kaiser’s theories of knowledge organization, notes that since theories are narratives about phenomena, Knowledge Organization Systems (KOSs) reflect different “narratives” about knowledge. Otlet and Kaiser held nearly identical views about the analysis of documents into aggregates of facts, but key differences in their methodological and ideological outlooks resulted in vastly divergent “narratives” of knowledge organization and starkly different KOSs. Otlet developed a universal KOS: the UDC; Kaiser's approach was particularist, creating different "narratives" for specific communities. Michael Buckland, in Events as a structuring device in mark-up and metadata, reports on the rationale for using of events as a structuring device for mark-up and metadata structures in biographical texts. Events are seen as arbitrarily defined actions suitably framed by the four facets of What, Where, When and Who. Difficulties and solutions are summarized.


SIG SPONSORSHIP?: History & Foundations of Information Science (HFIS)


[Additional Materials, speaker bios (DOC)]  

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