Latest Publications

New Student Chapter at Pratt Institute

Earlier this past spring, myself and several students decided to form a chapter of ASIS&T at Pratt Institute’s School of Information and Library Science (SILS). We had the support of over 20 students, as well as a number of faculty members and even our dean showed up to the inaugural meeting. What makes ASIS&T@Pratt unique from other professional organizations student chapters at SILS, is that we opened it up to the entire Institute. Pratt is a renowned Art and Design school, who students draw upon many skills that fit perfectly with ASIS&T’s core mission about “bringing together diverse streams of knowledge, focusing what might be disparate approaches into novel solutions to common problems.”

So far the new student group has been a huge success at Pratt. Last semester we hosted the “First Mondays” film series showing “Helvetica” and “Ant Farm Video.” We organized what hopes to be the annual ASIS&T@Pratt Symposium that seeks to address current issues in field bringing by together professionals and alumni under one topic. Our first symposium focused on the effects of new media in information science. Artists, film makers, librarians, journalists, and information architects came together for the a day long event. We twittered the entire event (#nmspratt) creating an ad hoc proceedings. Since we were a new group however, we didn’t have any money to fund these events- so we went lo-tech and had two fantastic bake sales raising nearly $200!

As founding chapter chair of ASIS&T@Pratt, all good things must come to an end. This summer I graduated from SILS and passed keys over to the vice-chair. This whole experience has taught me the value of a strong and reliable team, the importance of communication, and that a with a little persistence a lot can happen.

-Amber Billey

Out-going Chapter Chair for ASIS&T@Pratt

Information seeking and social media explosion

While I’m generally wary of comparing humans to lab rats, I’m intrigued by research into pleasure responses in the human brain.  People are, it seems, “seeking machines” — with brains that respond not only to food and sex, but also to the novelty of information.  The more we Google, e-mail, Facebook, text, and Twitter, the more we whet our appetite for consuming information.  Such biological motivation helps provide some explanation for the explosion of social media.  A new video by Erik Qualman tries to quantify the sheer size of the explosion.

Sources for the numbers cited in the video are available on Qualman’s website.

David M. Pimentel
Member, SIG-CR

Taxonomy: anchor to the world around us

Science journalist Carol Kaesuk Yoon, author of the new book Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science, describes how a specific part of the brain may be devoted to taxonomy.  Evidence for this claim: trauma to a region in the temporal lobe can render a person unable to recognize living things.

As curious as they are, these patients and their woes would be of little relevance to our own lives, if they had merely lost some dispensable librarianlike ability to classify living things. As it turns out, their situation is much worse. These are people completely at sea. Without the power to order and name life, a person simply does not know how to live in the world, how to understand it. … They are utterly lost, anchorless in a strange and confusing world. Because to order and name life is to have a sense of the world around, and, as a result, what one’s place is in it.

David M. Pimentel
Member, SIG-CR

Statistics for information scientists?

A recent NYTimes article proposes statistics as the occupation of the future, describing the rise of interesting and high-paying jobs for statisticians. One particular paragraph caught my eye:

Yet data is merely the raw material of knowledge. “We’re rapidly entering a world where everything can be monitored and measured,” said Erik Brynjolfsson, an economist and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Digital Business. “But the big problem is going to be the ability of humans to use, analyze and make sense of the data.”

The article suggests that statisticians are the answer to this problem, with no mention of the potential role for information scientists.  This brings me back to thinking about the role of research methods and statistics courses in IS education, particularly at the master’s level.  In a cursory glance, it seems the exceptional program that requires a rigorous research methods course in order to graduate and a rare few that require more than an overview of statistics.  In most situations, these overviews seem to be geared at providing students with basic statistical literacy–ideally making the students critical consumers of statistical reports.  However, there seems to be very little focus on producing students who are actually able to conduct statistical analyses on their own.  So, I pose the question–should we be providing more statistical education at both the masters and doctoral levels…or should we leave statistics to the statisticians?

Cassidy R. Sugimoto
Communications Officer, SIG ED

Exploring the edges

This year’s SIG-CR Workshop is Bridging Worlds, Connecting People: Classification Transcending Boundaries — a fitting theme that highlights the nature of classification itself.   One on hand, classification draws boundaries and distinctions; on the other, it bridges those distinctions to bring things together in meaningful ways.  While we generally think there’s agreement about matters of classification, it’s invariably a “discretionary decision at the edges” — and the reality is that there’s still plenty of unchartered territory in the information landscape.

David M. Pimentel
Member, SIG-CR

Needed: New Name

Well, it appears that bits is such a good name for a blog that it was already taken by the NYTimes for their blog on “Business Innovation Technology Society.” (Of course, I would have preferred for the “I” to be information, but that’s just me.) So, this calls for participation from our readership–any suggestions on a new name?

Marchionini Participation Challenge

ASIST aims to be the leading professional society for leaders and researchers in the vibrant field of information science.  ASIST welcomes and supports a broad range of information professionals and the primary theme of my term as ASIST President will be to increase participation and engagement of information professionals in ASIST and by ASIST as a society that represents the interests of information science to the world beyond our membership.   Participation is as an ongoing process rather than simply a set of discrete actions.  For members, this means that we think and act beyond  local and annual meetings and other formal events to engage our members in conversations and problem solving activities that meet their immediate needs as well as the shared needs of the information science field writ large.  It means reaching out to help inform and educate the populace about the principles and practices of information science.  Because all the challenges of modern life involve information, it means joining local, national, or international forums that aim to address crucial problems that affect people’s lives and our future.  It means recruiting and mentoring new information professionals and accepting leadership positions that give back to our society and the field.   It means reconceptualizing our formal events such as conferences, summits, and workshops to transcend space and time constraints that limit broad participation.  Leveraging social networks and tools is crucial to enabling participation.   This blog and other participatory streams can serve to bring the best activities of SIGS and Chapters to the broader information science community as well as stimulate new levels of participation.

To these ends,  I challenge every ASIST member to identify one specific action that they will take in the coming year to increase participation.  Such actions include things like: volunteer to talk about information in a K-12 classroom, recruit one new member for ASIST, mentor a young information professional, serve on a governmental or advocacy body to promote and represent information science as a field and a profession, write letters to editors expressing positions on information access policies, write a paper for JASIST or the Bulletin, promote ASIST or other information science events and activities to other organizations and groups, make video recordings of events or mashups pertinent to information science and post them to YouTube or other venues, and post regularly to this blog or other outlets.  This is not an exhaustive list and I hope that every ASIST member will identify something specific they are willing to do, no matter how small or large, and DO IT.  Suggestions for other kinds of actions, reports on what actions you have taken, and other ideas are most welcome and I hope you will post them on this blog or share them with the community in other ways.  I look forward to discussing your ideas and especially to learning your action reports in the years ahead.

Gary Marchionini, ASIST President Elect


Welcome to bits, a blog of the American Society for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T).  ASIS&T is an organization that aims at connecting the all those interested in issues of information and this blog aims to do the same.  As noted on the ASIS&T webpage:

ASIS&T counts among its membership some 4,000 information specialists from such fields as computer science, linguistics, management, librarianship, engineering, law, medicine, chemistry, and education; individuals who share a common interest in improving the ways society stores, retrieves, analyzes, manages, archives and disseminates information, coming together for mutual benefit.

The contributors to this blog will come from among this membership and will represent the range of issues that fascinate, challenge, and engage our membership in their research, teaching, and practice.  [If you are interested in contributing, please contact me at]

This is a space where those interested in information-related issues can come together to discuss the latest news and research.   I look forward to all your contributions and comments!

Cassidy R. Sugimoto
Chapter Assembly Deputy Director
Communications Officer, SIG ED