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.
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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.