Reflection on Atlas Threads: Knowledge Creation

There were several sections of this thread that really resonated with me. One was Robert Taylor’s Value-Added Model of Information Systems. As I began to read about his thinking, I was nodding my head vigorously. “If a system does not make a user’s life better… it is worthless.” Yes, yes! Certainly an improvement over the system view. But as I read on, my “yes, yes!” began to change into “uh-oh…” as the limitations of this philosophy became clear. From my time spent in education, I am terribly familiar with the challenges inherent in trying to take users’ needs into account while designing curriculum. In a classroom as in a library, the problem is which users to ask, and whether they have any idea what their needs are, let alone the ability to articulate them. To give an oversimplified example, this results in weeding through suggestions ranging from “Give more homework, students need challenge” all the way to “There should be no homework, students need down-time.” I never had any luck building a system based upon that kind of feedback. And so the notion of users building their own systems makes perfect sense to me IN THEORY.

I have to stress “in theory” because as I read on about what this might look like, and particularly the examination of scapes, my head began to spin. Although I found the concept intriguing, I had a hard time picturing myself using a system like this one. It just seems overwhelming and tangled to me at this stage. This may be because I am still at the L0 level of language use and have not progressed to L1 in anything library-related. Or it may be because I am so strongly a verbal learner, and a visual representation of an entailment mesh makes my brain hurt. One of my primary goals for my time in this program is to increase my comfort level with these forms of media that transcend verbal language. 

One last section of this thread that made a strong impact on me was the discussion about the dangers of an artifact-centered view. The disappearance of video stores and the current struggles of both small book stores and small music stores illustrate this point alarmingly well. As much as I personally adore my artifacts, it is helpful to be reminded of the importance of shifting the focus to knowledge-creation tools. So far, my reading is mostly highlighting for me how much more I need to learn, but I suppose that’s a good start.


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