Library and Information Science Miscellaneous

This weblog in the field of Library and Information Science contains news, comments and everything that its bloggers think could be useful for LIS professionals and students. It is maintianed by a number of students mainly Research students and Iranian. Our email is lismisblog at Yahoo dot com.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

fast or good?

“Don’t rely on the title!” this sentence is probably familiar to all librarians. In cataloguing courses, there is a strong emphasis on searching the title page, table of contents, body and so on in each book to find appropriate subjects for it. This is because usually titles are not reliable and especially in the case of non-scientific books, the cataloguer might mistake the books subjects. I remember an example in this case “Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance”. Our teacher used to mention this title to tell us not to trust the titles.

Recently, I saw this book on my friend’s book shelves and I was interested to have a look at it. The book is a kind of autobiography. Robert M. Pirsig expresses the story of his travels with his friends using motorcycles instead of cars. Indeed, the book is much more philosophical and critical about the ways we encounter our problems and it is full of good advice on how to face daily affairs or in summary how to live your life in a good way. I found the book full of great ideas about life and the ways we think or we act.

In a car, you’re always in compartment the writer says his idea about cars and motorcycles. “and because you are used to it, you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it’s all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle, the frame is gone. You’re completely in contract with all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it…”(1)

Pirsig mentions the difference between a fast and a good travel and believes that the whole approach will be changed if we choose one of them. Personally, I agree with him. Nowadays, you can see a big competition among different Search Engines to address more relevant sites and documents in a shorter time. They’re successful and they find thousands of electronic pages just in few seconds. While IT specialists do their best to retrieve more relevant documents and websites, their idea about the quality of information retrieval is different from LIS specialists.

The meaning of Quality described by IT specialists is much more quantitative. They are trying to retrieve more amounts of resources in a shorter time and they don’t matter how much the retrieved information is effective for the users. Indeed, they describe a fast travel as a good travel.

1)Robert M. Pirsig. Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance: an inquiry into values. New York : Morrow, 1974. pp: 6-8.


  • At 8:57 AM, Blogger rr said…

    That's right. There are two different approaches to IR and some other fields which are common between Information scientists and computer scientists. Computer men focus on the software, hardware and system, and IS professionals focus on the users usually.


Post a Comment

<< Home