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The Future of Information History

Jenna Hartel, Ron Day, Thomas Haigh, and Siobhan Stevenson

ASIST 2011 Annual Meeting
New Orleans, LA, October 9-12, 2011


This panel discusses developments in the scholarship of information history and speculates on its future. Previously, history was a distinct mode of research and a specialty community within information science; it operated largely outside of the mainstream scholarship that was underway within the dominant empirical and rational paradigms. Today, more social and culturally-oriented approaches have gained momentum across the discipline and these frameworks include an historical perspective as one dimension of their conceptual apparatus. As a result, an historical sensibility is now embedded more broadly across a larger swath of scholarship. This is an exciting and welcome development for champions of history--but it is also problematical. The new historical dimension to research is diffuse and its practitioners typically do not identify as historians. To illustrate the new ambiguous place: there is no obvious home for this historical panel in the track-based program structure of the ASIS&T annual meeting. From a variety of angles, our panel traces the recent breakthrough and mainstreaming of history and aims to characterize its new face. The panel includes a classically trained historian, a theorist, and two scholars whose research features historical themes but is centered outside an historical specialty. A concluding discussion among panelists and the audience will be guided by a big question: What is the future of information history?

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