The Perfect Sense of Embodiment

I have recently had the good fortune of correspondence with a tremendous thinker of whose work I have greatly admired and utilized continuously.  At some point he queried me as to my central concern or research interest which I pondered over a number of days.  About a year ago I recognized that filtering through all of my curiosities and fascinations (passionate inquiries) – in the end they were all about ways that meaning might be made for humans.  Thus I figured semiosis or semiotics was my central field of concern.  How we forge meaning in our surrounds.  As I’ve pursued library and information science I have attuned to the eagerness with which we as a species produce, hoard and waste information.  We’ve produced veritable clouds of data/information/knowledge and now it seems as if we swoon and drown in it.  For meaning, this cosmos of affordances must be utilized, integrated, incorporated.  As technologies explode and become increasingly symbiotic or synergistic with our own bodies and purposes, I have found that my responsive concern is one of remembering that the nexus or filament-combining locus for humans is the body.  No meaning can be had without the physical processes on which our being relies.  Every think I can think rests on the chemistry and material flows that comprise my organism.  It seems that even while we seek to develop intelligent robots and machines, ubiquitous data-recording and instinct-responsive computing, work with data sets increasingly monumental and robust, that a strong percentage of the human populace has the idea that the stigmergy and emergence of virtual social realities construct meaning, promise, potentiality.  I am not denying the fascinating quality of our rhizomic replications of our actual interconnectedness, overlap and interdependent influence, but I am committed to the fact that meaning only arises as relations are incorporated.  The translation and transformation of continuous relational events whether electronic and virtual or face-to-face and co-present into MEANING only occurs organismically, physically, presently in the knotting of convergences through our embodied existence.  Emotion, sensation, cognition, movement all ALWAYS play a part in the construction of meaning.  These are my thinkings/feelings.

In keeping with that, serendipitously my wife and I happened to view “The Perfect Sense” – a movie pursued to listen to Max Richter‘s incredible soundtrack in action – but resulting in a sort of visual commentary on my above thoughts.  We recommend it!  And would love to hear what you think!


Sudden Soap Box: Digitization = Access (not preservation)

Unbeknownst to me – the next Blackboard discussion assignment for one of my summer classes turned out to be :

  • Is digitization the answer to preserving print materials?  Discuss advantages and disadvantages.

The following was my response – realizing by the end that this had become an impassioned sort of soap box sermon rather (perhaps) than a reasoned response.  Judge for yourselves and please offer replies and conversation!

Is digitization the answer to preserving printed materials? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages


In my opinion the answer is NO.  I believe digitization is an aspect of access, not preservation.  Digitization – the process, format and type of “storage” are all inexact and uncertain dependencies – on energy sources, tools, network connections, licensing, access, programs, softwares, interfaces, and so on down the line.  With no real concept of the reliability, consistency or longevity of data in “cloud storage” – digital documents still need physical copies to ensure longevity.  The only companies I really hear belaboring the issues of continuity, reliability, and potential of accurate digital preservation besides the Library of Congress and Pew are Tim Berners-Lee and the WorldWideWeb Consortium, ITC and other digital business/tech aggregates – which continually discuss the problems, scramblings and deterioration of digital data bits in ethereal storage.  We all understand that we have books 100s even 1000s of years old, from which we can verify online copies, files, etc.  Otherwise many “scanned” documents lose clarity, miss pages, notations, editions, etc.  This is becoming an enormous problem when companies and institutions begin thinking that by digitizing something they are preserving it.  They’re not.  They’re making it available in another format and medium, not preserving it.  Our computers, platforms, servers, programs, hardware and software are continually being altered and updated – formats are insecure, data continuity is insecure, e-book packages automatically deliver updates and editions without preserving previous editions/authors/etc.  Digital access is precarious – a solar flare or atmospheric storm could wipe out or scramble data at any time (as a wise man once said).

Digitization is an answer to access not preservation.  Berners-Lee et. al. have always been clear that the purposes and hopes of WWW and Semantic Web work was to make the world’s culture more readily communicable and sharable – not to preserve it.  To democratize it.  Technology progresses too quickly and outdates too quickly to be a reliable form of preservation.  And with open access and collaborative semantic web – no digital document can be considered “authoritative” or be ensured to represent original writings or creation.  All digital data is open to revision, alteration, damage – it passes through too many hands, servers, connections to be utilized as an authoritative source.  (Perhaps all web citations, whether scholarly or not should be appended with some mark indicating it was retrieved from digital storage, rather than confirmed by printed document).

As access solution – digitization is wonderful.  For “just-in-time” retrieval and sharability, open publications and global learning and information – digitization is an incredible advance in communicating globally.  But reading a text over the phone, or broadcasting pages on TV, etc., are all notated if used in research.  Digitization also seems to mitigate against deep reading or comprehensive research, as digital texts tend to be scanned rather than read through in their entirety, and there seems to be a tendency to retrieve “good enough” or topical articles rather than searching for the best research available to the research at hand.  (side note, sorry).

So, in my opinion, digitization should be used for that which is was developed – a communicative medium – unstable, unreliable and ever-developing – but not an authoritative or preservational archive.  A books average life is between 100-300 years and utilizes much less energy in being used or shared than all the electricity and energy required for digitization and access.  Most ereaders, PCs, and other digital tools last at the outset 5-10 years and then add to the world’s waste, far less recyclable than pulped paper.

Digitization = access – global and unstable.  Physical copies = preservation – relatively stable and verifiable (as long as enough copies are preserved to compare and contrast).  We never considered this problem until now with the enormous weeding and disposal being done by the very places that existed to preserve these artifacts!


Here. Now.

Reading Maturana & Varela’s accounts of how we ought to go about engaging scientific activity (and life)… with integrated mindfulness/awareness and sense of our embeddedness in whatever we are observing, inquiring…

coupled with required textbook for LIS – metacognition and reflection in learning contexts:

and then this comes on…..the sound of the meaning, I guess….


Supreme Librarians!!!

Most of you have probably gathered by now, if you’ve viewed some random posts of mine, that I am addicted to and dependent on libraries and the treasures they hold.  In the Fall, in fact, I will be entering the Master of Library Science degree program at Emporia State University in Emporia, KS.  The fearless director I will be studying under (Matt Upson) and collaborator have created a number of these fantastic little comic BOOKS praising libraries and librarians and guiding and enticing usage of them.  I’ve asked if I can share one here – please take some time to view it – it’s fantastic! (CLICK ON THE IMAGE FOR LINK!)

(see also: Matt Upson – Librarian)