Sessions Held at the 2000 ASIS Annual Meeting

Session 1 Historiography and history of information science

Session moderator Mikel Breitenstein

This session presents papers dealing with related themes in the historiography and history of information science. Classic laws of bibliometrics, which still remain relevant to considerations of document supply, are reviewed and the historical retrospect used to transform current perspectives. The use of foundational texts for information science is discussed, again with the intention of informing current understanding of the information science and neighboring fields. The final paper adopts established methodologies from scientometrics and cognitive science to explore the intersection (or lack of it) between information science and information systems. Here the intention is deliberately performative, to inform potential future strategies and developments for ASIS.


The session should appeal to all those interested in the past and future of information science as well as the increasingly active constituency concerned with the history and foundations of information science.


The session is relevant to Social, Behavioral, Ethical, and Legal Aspects but also has a broader interest to information science as a whole.

Presenters and papers

Paper One Stephen J. Bensman. Line vs. Garfield: a resolution of the conflict.

The period from the 1950s through the 1970s witnessed major breakthroughs in the understanding of the probability distributions underlying the use of library materials.

Paper Two Ron Day. Information, historicism, historiography, and historicity.

The rhetoric of foundational texts in information science, from documentation to information theory and cybernetics to current discussions of ‘the virtual’, reveals a tendency toward progressive historical narratives and utopian proclamations.

Paper Three Ira Monarch. An information-based performative history of information science and information systems.

With the publication and reception of the book, Structure of Scientific Revolutions in the 1960s, conceptual schemes and conceptual change became an important theme in philosophical, historical and cognitive studies of scientific development. This paper reports on a study that develops an information view of history of science by combining techniques and resources from both scientometrics and cognitive science to help uncover the conceptual dynamics of two related fields – information science and information systems.

Session 1 Ideology and encyclopedism: reflections and implications

Moderator Julian Warner

Paper One W. Boyd Rayward. Concepts of encyclopedia and the organization and retrieval of knowledge: historical perspectives

A scholarly ideal since the beginning of our Western traditions of recorded knowledge has been the cumulation, distillation, systematization, and synthesis of what is known. This paper examines the ideological underpinnings of the encyclopedic enterprises of Francis Bacon in the first part of the Seventeenth century, of Diderot and his associates in the middle of the Eighteenth century, and H.G.Wells in the 1930s.

Paper Two Mikel Breitenstein. Encyclopedism at the end of modernity.

Conflicting forces in play at the end of WWI challenged the earlier ideal of humankind moving ever forward in steady progress. This paper will examine 20th C. notions of encyclopedism from the ‘world order’ perspective, showing the beginnings of the reflexive awareness that dominates our notion of knowledge and narrative now.

Paper Three Hope A. Olson. Shoes: postmodern, poststructural, postcolonial rereading of encyclopedism.

Encyclopedism might be characterized as a quest for universality in two senses: inclusive coverage of the circle of knowledge at some more or less specific level and representation of the structure of knowledge. These two notions seem at odds with postmodern, poststructural and postcolonial thought. This paper will reread encyclopedism from each of these critical stances.