Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pitbulls and democracy

       Kristin Luker’s metaphor of “sliding into a conversation” or framing one’s budding research interest in terms of an ongoing intellectual conversation really helped me to hone my “glimmer of inquiry” (see my first blog post describing this “glimmer” ).  Coincidentally and somewhat out of context, Luker’s reference to librarians as the “pitbulls of democracy” (p.85) reminded me of a conversation which I feel is very relevant to my area of interest, and worth sliding into. The conversation is on the topic of U.S. librarians whose anticipated vocal concern over the privacy of their patrons under the Patriot Act was muzzled by the FBI. The librarians in question see this as an outright (and illegal) affront against some of the fundamental tenets of democracy. Here is a good article that summarizes the discussion
       In a Canadian context, I want to know if the research community within the “information sciences” is also engaging in similar conversations. This can (in part) be measured by surveying the materials being published in Canadian “information science” journals.  A number of resulting questions come to mind; for instance, what portion of other topics make-up the “info science” body of research? What is the nature of these topics? What credence are given to them?  What does this say about the public role of the “info sciences” (e.g., what are the implications for democracy if these pit bulls (dissident librarians) are being muzzled and visa versa?

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