The "Traditional Future" of library research
September 18th, 2007 by Tom Johnson

From O'Reilly Radar's Publishing blog comes this interesting item. See

The Traditional Future

“A prominent U.S. sociologist and student of professions, Andrew Abbott of the University of Chicago, has written a thought-provoking thesis on what he terms “library research” — that is, research as performed with library-held resources by historians, et. al, via the reading and browsing of texts — compared to social science research, which has a more linear, “Idea->Question->Data->Method->Result” type of methodology.

“The pre-print, “The Traditional Future: A Computational Theory of Library Research,” is full of insights about library centric research, including intriguing parallels between library research and neural net computing architectures; a comparison that made me think anew, and with more clarity, about how the science of history is conducted. Armed with a distinctive interpretation of library research, Abbott is able to draw some incisive conclusions about the ramifications of large repositories of digitized texts (such as Google Book Search) on the conduct of scholarship…”


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