Mar. 7th, 2010

dagoski: Emperor Norton I of the Bear State Republic (Default)
Welcome one. Welcome all.  This is the second, or thereabouts, incarnation of my blog.  The first one was hosted by Livejournal.  However, over the years, their corporate masters have pulled some stunts that have left me ever more doubtful about the integrity of that community.  I much prefer Dreamwidth's revenue model.  They want money up front and give you complete control over your very own printing press.  I'm working on an invite code right now, but that's just to test drive the system.  I'm going to throw them a check next pay period.

My previous journal was little more than a ranting room and a way to keep up with the lives of an assortment of friends and acquaintances who had become scattered across the globe.  This incarnation is more ambitious and represents my attempt to do disciplined essay writing on a fairly regular basis.  As you might guess from my default icon, this blog will have a great deal of political content.  The guy in fancy dress is none other than Emperor Norton I of the United States, Defender of Mexico.  If ever there was a time for Norton, that time is now.  We either need him to come back and help us regain our dignity through reckless optimism or our era has become crazy enough that Norton seems the only sane choice.  Now this blog is not some collection of lunatic rantings.  Rather I hope to probe some of the deeper questions underlying the choices we make as a nation.  This is in fact becoming the central idea of what may become a graduate research program on my part.

For those who don't know me already, I'm currently an Information Professional who straddles the territory between Computer Scientist and Librarian.  I have an MS in Library and Information Science and have worked in almost every aspect of the IT world over the last sixteen years.  I started out as a Scientific Programmer working in the University of Michigan Space Physics Lab.  I worked a bit on data analysis of the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis as well as working in the ground control center for the HRDI project on the Upper Atmosphere Satellite.  From there I worked as a Network Engineer, Web Application Developer and System Analyst for a whole host of ill defined projects involving information.  Currently I serve as the Manager of Publications for a research institute specializing in language resources.  Among my many projects is the development of an ontology for validating and qcing language corpora.  That's a pretty blue sky project and may never come to fruition, but it's really cool.  

In recent years, I have become interested in how societies process information and make decisions.  This came about because I took several assignments in my master's program way too seriously and went farther afield from strict Library or Information Science and into Cognitive Science, Sociology, Social Psychology, System Theory, Cybernetics and Economics.  The last is rapidly becoming my academic field of choice. Depending on how things turn out in the next couple of months, I may wind up pursuing a second undergraduate major in Economics as prep for graduate study in that field.  

This incarnation of my blog may well serve as a sort of pre-print archive of stuff I intend to submit to journals at a later date.  Think of it as a sort of poor man's ArXiv.  In the upcoming weeks, I'm going to post articles about the politics of information, the personal and political motivations of secrecy and other other dispatches related to these subjects.  I may also post my reflections on the history of Nationalism, the evolution of Professionalism and whatever else comes to mind.  I will cross post of my work to LiveJournal and my DailyKos.

AM Dagoski is, naturally, a pseudonym.  My real name is not all that hard to track down.  However, this fig leaf provides plausible deniability for my employers and educational institutions.  In other words, they know really clearly that anything I say here is as me, the inidividual, and not as me the devoted little worker.

dagoski: Emperor Norton I of the Bear State Republic (Default)

At work, I'm currently running a Nixonian campaign for the adoption of a controlled vocabulary for publication metadata. In other words, I'm making a list of acceptable terms to describe the holdings of the research institute I work at, a nice little place I call the Linguistic Salt Mines. In technical terms, this is metadata, information about information. In layman's terms metadata is description of something. And a Controlled Vocabulary constrains the language used in that description. The fact that my push to persuade the organization to adopt the standards implies that information has politics. As an Information Scientist or Male Librarian, this seems a no brainer, but for most people the two words don't quite seem to go together. Note how my affirmed identity there is steeped in cultural politics. That oughta tell you something. Our words, our nouns of the moment are fraught with politics. Hockey Mom didn't used to have a political connotation, but it sure does now. That term is now caught up in a political debate about identity and sovereignty and the everyday lives of US citizens take on a political character we haven't known before. That political character was there, of course, but most of us failed to notice even while Karl Rove was building a mighty Direct Market Machine designed to change our votes. Just in my flailing attempt to introduce the concept of Information Politics, I have demonstrated the politics of language. And language transmits information. If language has fallen in with its disreputable fellow noun, politics, then information will probably jump off the same cliff as its friends do. Before I dive into this more, let's work up some definitions.

Read more... )



This is a rerun of an essay I banged out in about two hours a few months ago. I'm amazed it hangs together as well as it does.

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