QOtD: classic KM from 1950

Robert Heinlein is quoted from his essay, "Where to?" in an essay collection, Expanded Universe: The New Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein

The greatest crisis facing us is not Russia, not the Atom bomb, not corruption in government, no encroaching hunger, not the morals of young. It is a crisis in the *organization* and *accessibility* of human knowledge. We own an enormous "encyclopedia"--which isn't even arranged alphabetically. Our "file cards" are spilled on the floor, nor were they ever in order. The answers we want may be buried somewhere in the heap, but it might take a lifetime to locate two already known facts, place them side by side and derive a third fact, the one we urgently need.

Call it the Crisis of the Librarian.

We need a new "specialist" who is not a specialist, but a synthesist. We need a new science to be the perfect secretary to all other sciences.

But we are not likely to get either one in a hurry and we have a powerful lot of grief before us in the meantime.

The original was written in 1950, and these issues continue to show up. Interesting to see that Heinlein was calling for librarian-as-curator. I wonder how this changes in a world where the file cards aren't strewn all over the floor, but all over the web? Curation is still very important, but then we need curation of curation of curation - people who slice and dice "knowledge" for us. And we even become our own curators and as we publish what we find, we become curators for others.

[Found this version of the quote at a page on the Fundamentals of Information Science. I saw the original in a slideshare presentation by Richard Vines]

0 Comment(s)

Leave a comment


Previous entry: We go for tools way too soon

Next entry: Sharing files isn't collaboration

Picture a steaming coffee cup. Better yet, grab one and have a read!

KJolt Memberships

Follow jackvinson on Twitter

View Jack Vinson's profile on LinkedIn