“Electronic Neanderthals” and Squirrels

One of this semester’s subjects in my course is ETL505 – Organising Access to Information – what many refer to as Cataloguing. Some say “DRY”. I think, “Tell me more, I’m drowning out here”.

And that is probably why this quote in our textbook caught my attention —

cataloguing and the kind of imposition of order on the flow of knowledge and information that it represents may be all that separates up from becoming electronic neanderthals … (Gorman in Hider & Harvey, 2008, p. 8 )

This really rang true for me as I reflected on my increasing frustration in trying to organise and keep track of my own resources for study and professional learning. The common practices of tagging and word clouds in wikis, blogs and book-marking tools such as delicious.com are such a flabby ways of organising access to these resources. I may start saving articles for an assignment one day with certain tags but three weeks later I may be saving under some variation and not even realise it. Access becomes more difficult the greater the number of things saved/bookmarked. Like a squirrel running around hiding nuts for winter, I don’t always remember where I’ve put them later.

Electronic Neanderthals or Electronic squirrels – neither is a pretty picture when it comes to taking on the huge job of making digital information accessible. There really needs to be some standards to bring about better order for better access.


Creative Commons flickr photo by: Kalense Kid

Hider, P., & Harvey, R. (2008). Definitions and introductory concepts. In Organising knowledge in a global society: Principles and practice in libraries and information centres. Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies.

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