CityLIS Research Seminar led by Tim Gorichanaz: May 10th 12.00-15.00

CityLIS is delighted to be hosting a seminar on May 10th, led by our colleague Tim Gorichanaz from Drexel University. This informal seminar will explore recent work around documents, document theory and ethics, and will be of relevance to everyone at CityLIS with an interest in these core areas of LIS.

The seminar is open to all! If you are not currently a member of City University, please email for access details.

ELG14 Drysdale Building

12.00 Light refreshments and introductions

12.20 Document Theory in the 21st Century: Tim Gorichanaz

Two major challenges facing LIS today are (1) learning from other fields and (2) dealing with changing forms of information and literacies. Both of these require a historical throughline, which document theory offers. First, the document is conceptualized as material, social and mental; as such, it inherently draws links with other fields, and can form a bridge. Second, as we grapple to understand the breadth of what informs, it can help to return to documents and documentation. Document theory provokes questions of evidence, reference, meaning and teaching, offering a concrete entryway into questions of information. Particularly when it comes to the question of (big) data, document theory can help us see that “raw data” is an oxymoron—that all data results from documentation. Document theory also presaged the “everyday turn” in LIS; moving forward, document theory is particularly applicable to questions of information in everyday life.

As one example of this, we can consider two historical ethics of documentation in light of today’s technological climate. First was Paul Otlet’s turn-of-the-century universalist utopianism, which assumed that sharing and transparency would lead to world peace. We see this ethic reflected today in Facebook’s aspirations toward “global community,” the problems of which have become chillingly evident in recent years. What is the alternative? Already in 1951 Suzanne Briet argued that cultural organization should be decentralized and relational, sensitive to local contexts and expertise. As we struggle with the emergence of a global information society, perhaps this is a way forward.

12.50 The Future of Documents: Lyn Robinson/Joseph Dunne-Howrie

CityLIS are interested in new media documents. As technologies allow us to experience an increasing amount of participation and immersion in what we ‘read’,  we explore the nature of documents in the 21st century. What does this mean for the reader/audience? What does it mean for documentation, and for LIS practitioners.

13.20 Discussion/Break

13.50 The Moral and Contemplative: New Paths for LIS: Tim Gorichanaz

My current interests lie in the realm of the everyday, at the edges of our conceptualizations of knowledge. This is particularly important to LIS, as memory institutions are no longer defined by their physical boundaries, and as we recognize the myriad ways in which humans become informed.

First, I have been exploring the question of what we can learn from documents beyond the epistemic (traditional, semantic views of knowledge). Is there a moral dimension to documents? How do documents teach us how to live? Whatever our answers, it is not just a matter of content, but also about the physical form these documents take, and the social roles they enact. In particular, my current work is looking at the role of public art in people’s lives.

Second, and relatedly, I am considering the intersection of contemplation and information. It has been established that information contributes to epistemic aims, but information is also involved in other aspects of human life. We can call these “contemplative aims.” Information can contribute to six contemplative aims: being, attention, meaning, compassion, unity, and wisdom. These are becoming more and more important in today’s always-on information climate. But these are not totally estranged from the epistemic; in my view, understanding is the link between the epistemic and the contemplative.

14.20 Discussion

14.50 Sumary

15.00 Close


Take a look at our research in the Centre for Information Science:

About lyn

Dr Lyn Robinson is Reader in Library & Information Science, and Head of Department at City, University of London. She established and directs the Library School, and co-directs the Centre for Information Science alongside Prof David Bawden. Contact:
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