ASIST2011: Metatheoretical Snowmen II

Oct 14 2011 Published by under Conferences

Starting out with a definition of metatheory

socio-cognitivism, cultural studies, ethnography, bibliometrics ….. (world view, paradigm… hm what others would call epistemologies? plus, I would argue bibliometrics and user-centered design are methodologies (and method) not epistemologies)

Introduction: central to our field is “what is information” and if you’re asked that in an interview say it depends on your metatheory. define yours and then you can define information. See Talja, Tuominen, Savolainen – ISMS in information science JDoc 2005.

5 panelists who will describe their metatheory in terms of a thought experiment regarding snowmen.

Furner – philosophical analytic – bleh. don’t get it… aboutness of the snowman, i guess.

Rieh – user-centered design – a la Norman… really a theory?

Olsson – critical studies (but perhaps post-modern?) – information is not neutral, who do we privilege, who do we exclude. Rabinow “no external position of certainty, no universal understanding that is beyond history and society”  (the winner)

Bates - evolutionary approach

Belkin – cognitivism

discussant – Andrew Dillon


In the end, I don’t think the snowman was a good way to describe these metatheories. I’m also still not sure what a metatheory is, but it looks a lot like an epistemology. I probably won’t go to the next one in this series.

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