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ASIST 2012 Annual Meeting 
Baltimore, MD, October 26-30, 2012

 
The Interdisciplinary Study of Information
Jenna Hartel, Steve Fuller, Rick Szostak and Laurie Bonnici

Sunday, 5:30pm


Summary

To mark the 75th anniversary of ASIS&T this panel addresses the nature and recent history of the field of information science. It uses as a springboard The Study of Information: Interdisciplinary Messages, a collection of writings edited by economist Fritz Machlup and Una Mansfield (1983). More than a quarter of a century ago, The Study of Information (for short) presented the mandates of nine research specialties centered on information, namely: cognitive science, informatics, artificial intelligence, linguistics, library and information science, cybernetics, information theory, and systems theory. By illuminating the concerns, similarities, and differences of these related domains the book established one of the first geographies of information as an interdisciplinary academic enterprise. In its day, reviewers described The Study of Information as "a quite remarkable overview" (Hayes, 1985) and "an historically significant book" (Harmon, 1987). Against this backdrop our panel asks: How has the "interdisciplinary" study of information changed? To begin, Jenna Hartel will introduce The Study of Information: Interdisciplinary Messages (Machlup & Mansfield, 1983). Next, as the keynote of the session, Steve Fuller, an internationally renowned sociologist of science, will consider what it means to study information today, especially given the increased centrality of information in life and the rise of the iSchool
movement. Specifically, he will examine these trends in relation to two works from his field that mark their anniversary this year: Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (50th) and Latour's Science in Action (25th). Laurie Bonnici will report findings from a study of the disciplinary structures of library and information science and the iSchool movement utilizing Abbott's (2001) Chaos of Disciplines. Then, Rick Szostak will explore how information science can best serve the needs of interdisciplinary scholarship. There will be a minimum of 30 minutes remaining for a conversation with the audience, hosted by Steve Fuller.