LIS: trying to see the bigger picture


I see my first few weeks studying Information Science much like my first experience of virtual reality. I was gifted a cardboard box VR headset with very low expectations, I loaded  a 4K underwater VR experience from YouTube and was, quite frankly, stunned. I walked around my bedroom trying to get to the edges of the video but the feeling of being utterly surrounded by this projected seascape was dizzying. I wanted to get a complete ‘picture’ of the video but VR does the opposite, there are no edges per say  just these strange 360° world. In this same way I am trying to get hold of the bigger picture of LIS.

In the second lecture of the term Lyn showed us the rock art and clay tablets of the ancient world with (to me, the untrained eye) a bunch of symbols and pictures on them. We discussed the definition of documents and never in my life did I imagine that a seemingly simple question could have such a multiplicity of answers, opinions and debate. I reflected on what I would define as a document and documentation and seeing the rock art displayed on the screen in front of me I wanted to say yes, they were documents. 43,500 BCE persons unknown decided to document the protowriting (new word for me) we see on the images of the rock art displayed.

This early form of documentation is the only way we can now in the present get a glimpse of reality of that particular time. The internet is described as ‘a mechanism for information dissemination […] without regard for geographic location’ (Barry M. Leiner, Vinton G. Cerf, David D. Clark, Robert E. Kahn, Leonard Kleinrock, Daniel C. Lynch, Jon Postel, Larry G. Roberts, Stephen Wolff, 1997). There is something to be said for the significance of how a snapshot of a time thousands of years ago is affecting a South London girl sitting in a classroom on St John’s Street in late 2018. Without technology and information sharing I would not have any concept of this ancient world, so it is Week 2 and I am trying to grasp the bigger picture of Library and Information Science. In a short time, I have all but moved past the idea that Information Science can have one universal definition. Technology, ethics and culture are but a few notions that muddy the one definition notion and give way for a multiplicity of factors that need to be considered when you look at LIS.

Since the dawn of the internet and social media, the information sharing culture has exploded we can post, edit, comment and share information instantly and in general without restrictions using social media. Whether formal or informal we create documents every minute which shape our reality in the same way persons unknown created documents on the walls of caves so many thousands of years ago. Technology and social media specifically alter our reality, we edit our digital self and disseminate it how we please. Not only can we edit our digital self but everyone we connect with alters it in some way too, whether deliberately or not. In week 1 and 2 we looked at the history of the internet and it’s now hard to separate LIS from it. Each part of the information communication chain is continuing to change and tech is always pushing the boundaries further, for example the idea of VR libraries is particularly exciting to me!

So, it’s nearly week 3 and the questions I find myself pondering are:

  • What is the role of the Information Scientist and how has/does it change over time?
  • What exactly are documents and how are they defined?
  • How does ethics play a role in relation to technology?
  • How will LIS react to the disruption and innovation of tech to come?

With all those questions and more bouncing around in my mind, for the moment I am just trying to grasp the bigger picture and as I try to focus on one part of the enormous ever changing landscape of LIS I am drawn to another aspect I hadn’t considered yet.



Bawden, D and Robinson Lyn, 2012. Introduction to Information Science. London: Facet Publishing.

Chowdhury, G.G and Chowdhury S, 2007. Organising information from shelf to the web. London: Facet Publishing

Krotoski, A 2018. The Digital Human: Jigsaw [podcast, online]. BBC. Available from: [Accessed on 30 October 2018].

Leiner, B.M, Vinton G. Cerf, Clark D.D, Kahn, R.E, Kleinrock, L, Lynch D.C, Postel, J, Larry G. R and Wolff, S, 1997. Brief History of the Internet [online]. Internet Society. Available from: [Accessed on 05 October 2018].


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