Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Musings on my readings: Approaches of the humanities needed for designing online library services

The new summer term has begun, and so has my readings on the folkloric aspects of my thesis idea. Generally, I expect my readings now to furnish theoretical perspectives to inform my research. Hence, for the rest of the summer I immerse myself in readings about folklore and storytelling to discover theories that can apply to online information provision.

With this, I've come across a website that I like that has given me various definitions of folklore over the centuries: University of Missouri's Department of English's Folklore, Oral Tradition and Cultural Studies course website: The site contains a sampling of definitions of folklore from 1884 to 2007.

Part of the readings I've done also have informed me include Brenda Laurel's Computers as Theatre and Theodore Roszak's (1986) The Cult of  Information: The Folklore of Computers and the True Art of Thinking. Both authors are instructive of discussing the need for a more humanistic approach to information. Laurel discusses that engineers designing human computer interaction do not produce good humanistic design that will please human beings. Roszak discusses how information as defined by mathematicians and telecommunication engineers which help to spark the development of the computing industry separate it from humanistic and everyday meaning. As such, both writers have helped me to see that a mechanistic approach dominates computer human interaction and design, rather than the approaches of the humanities.

As such, I see as part of my mission in the thesis to discuss the need for online library services to be designed for human beings using the approaches of the humanities. For my particular thesis, my emphasis will be on discussing the approaches of folklore and storytelling to informing such designs of online library services. I look forward to this challenge. Stay tuned for more.

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