Jane Macoustra has written a series of blog posts from Internet Librarian International. In her first post, Jane discusses the background to the conference and the keynote speech.
This ever-growing conference is lively and thought provoking. It is only just small enough to enable regular goers of ILI to meet and connect with friends, colleagues and renew the professional relationships with vendors without having to queue for their attention. While this professional “intimacy” still exists, it is on borrowed time as ILI gets ever more popular with each passing year. The proof of the growing popularity of this conference was demonstrated in their need to move to a larger venue, the Hammersmith Novotel 3 years ago, and the ever-growing international presence of the delegates. Before the first keynote speech, Mary-Dee Ojala reads out where the delegates have flown in from to attend this conference, and every year the list of countries gets longer. The diversity of the delegates is strong and creates a good grounding for informal discussions in the breaks.
The keynote speaker, Robert Rowland Smith (“RRS”), talked about Information Professionals and their relevancy and relationships with the philosophies of Buddha, Socrates, Freud, Darwin, Zeno, Plato, Einstein, et al and how their thoughts and writings connect with us and our work.
RRS started by reading an excerpt from “Dropping Ashes on Buddha”, in particular zoning in on the things we want in life, and the meaning of Buddhism (live in the moment). He described memory as living in the past and imagination as living in the future.
RRS went on to tell us that Plato’s philosophies were idealistic, and that knowledge – implicit knowledge is to know something is to know what’s true. He said that Plato used cloud technology because it represented a bank of knowledge.
RRS then muddied the waters (for me) by discussing why Plato thought that lying is useful, and that Zeno’s Paradox meant “I Lie”. Plato is described as saying that lying is useful and that based upon those lies there is a hierarchical divvying up of people - just like “divvying” up gold, silver or bronze. Lying is therefore useful because as we classify ourselves, we are telling “Noble Lies”. Our understanding of taxonomies compared with simplified classification is a distortion and by classification methodologies, you lose accuracy. Hence the lying philosophy.
Further on RRS spoke of the psychology of being placed into simple categories and that where you are, reflects on how you think. He was coming at this statement from the angle of telling one person they were a manager and another they were a subordinate and the resulting behaviours that people adopted when placed into these categories. The behaviour was adopted automatically by each person and their role. Hypnosis through suggestion was schematised by Freud who wrote about how we are influenced by others.
Another of Einstein’s dislikes was the phrase “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Under a classification of Virtue and Ethics, he didn’t like this statement because of its subjectivity.
He also addressed areas of madness (what is it, and suppose someone shares your ideas and views – is it still classified as madness?), the cult of Scientology and its relevance in society, the Cold War, and George Bush in the context with 9/11 and Weapons of Mass Destruction (Noble Lies). RRS finished by questioning the transfer of responsibility back into our own hands.
Question and Answer Session:Mary-Dee asked if we can alter the distorted knowledge in the Information Profession. The response was that ours is another field in which people think like this and we have the capability to take information from another field.
Final Comment:The Information Professional is not an innocent party, and that by using the internet we are outsourcing our knowledge to “Brands” creating the simplification because we become lazy and expect the brands to do the work for us.
Scary Moment: When I got home in the evening, my son asked me for assistance with his homework. Buddhism – The Noble Truth. I nearly fell off my chair.