Information Organization Ethics (originally posted 5-24-2009

I’m just home from Milwaukee, where for the past two days a very intense conference on ethics and the organization of information took place. The abstracts and program can be found following the link below. The papers will be published in a theme issue of CCQ

On my way home, sitting at the airport in Milwaukee (a very contemplative spot), I just kept thinking the whole issue is like a huge morass, like hundreds of nested issuespaces, each with its own structural critical points.
Example–Janet Swan Hill’s metaphor of copy cataloging being like a chain letter. If everybody follows the directions everybody gets lots of goodies. But even if all but one follow the directions, somebody will get metaphorically screwed. So when one library decides not to input original cataloging it potentially brings down the whole system. Causing harm–that’s at the core of ethical thought. How is this a nested morass? Standards are too hard to apply, standards aren’t empirically-based, standards aren’t really user-centric, librarians don’t apply the standards. But those librarians are the ones who created the standards. The educational apparatus isn’t doing its job; the professional apparatus isn’t doing its job; the bibliographical apparatus is weakened; the users suffer. Yet everyone is working very hard and doing their jobs the best they can. Where to begin? Pick a spot, and figure out how to do no harm.

My own topic (bibliocentrism) in another entry soon. Conference podcasts are here: http://www.sois.uwm.edu/DE_Info/CIPR/ioethics_2009.html

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Posted November 17, 2010 by lazykoblog in ethics

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