Monday, January 28, 2008

Seeing Like a Librarian

Blogging will be light for the next two weeks, as I will be traveling. However, I'm going to take advantage of being trapped in airports, airplanes and other Internet-free places to slack off on my paying work and do something I've been meaning to do for awhile: re-read James C. Scott's Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. I read this book 9.5 years ago as an undergrad and haven't re-read it since, but conclusions from it keep popping into my head in relation to the library-land discussions on privacy and on tagging/folksonomies. At its heart the book is a critique of the high modernist tendency in 20th century global politics, but (as I remember) it has some really interesting things to say about both the dangers of governmental attempts to keep close statistical tabs on citizens and the dangers of ignoring local folk knowledge when constructing a view of the world. So, hopefully I'll be back soon with something insightful to say about all of that.

Feel free to get the book yourself and read along if you're so inclined. It's quite accessible to people who aren't into political theory, and it's actually really interesting.

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