Building my own taxonomy

<title>Building my own taxonomy</title>

I have a favourite place where I can look at the expanse of the sea spreading from Dungeness to the coast of France. Okay. Not every time as a lot depends on the weather but you get the picture… It is an awe inspiring panorama which I never tire of and which is never the same twice. There are days when you cannot see where the sea ends and the sky starts, and other times it looks like someone has taken a dark blue pencil to the horizon and drawn a line with a ruler. You can also start with one view to the East and while your eyes are sweeping the skyline, it has changed dramatically to the West.

What I see with my eyes pleases me but I know that although it looks like a line has been traced with a ruler, the reality is very different. If I were to sail out there, there would be no line. Instead I would find waves, fish, birds and algae, petrol traces, ferries and other boats. There is another dimension going on out there that cannot be seen from my view point up on top of the cliffs.

My view is the world of information. From up there, how can I seize even a small part and make something of it? Make sense of it? Home in for a better understanding of what I see? That is my longing. Or maybe I should that was my longing; because I think that very slowly it is actually becoming a reality. 

I am starting to see taxonomies I never saw before. I had a concealed knowledge that they existed all along but wasn’t able to break them down into parts which would give me a complete insight. It’s like discovering a muscle you never knew existed after a first run on the beach. You know it is there by the pain you experience. You might have learned about it in year 7 biology class but until you use it and maybe strain it, you can’t really connect it either to your body or to your exercise routine. After the pain subsides, you have to stretch, rest, build up and strengthen that muscle before it can be used again.

At the start of this course, I was looking at the world of information which surrounds us, acknowledging it but not really knowing much about it. Over the last few weeks, I have been trying to identify processes, to understand databases and to retrieve information, and most of all to connect all these together. Just like finding the demarcation between sea and sky, sometimes it is unseen, and other times so clear. I am finding that through these lectures I am being equipped to see and analyse and, yes, enjoy and grow an appreciation of what my mind encounters. 

Now, it might feel like a terribly romantic way of describing my learning process, but I communicate optimally through pictures and illustrations because those are the ones, if we are totally honest with ourselves, that we remember best.

Information belongs to the people, but who is trying to find our information? How can we facilitate access to it? Which model do we use to keep records of information? What information should we keep and what should we discard? Is this form of data collecting ethical? These are questions that have been raised over the past weeks which now never quite leave my mind… I cannot look at the world of information around me without asking myself how it can be improved upon and what role I could have in the greater picture. How can I make a difference in my little boat on the sea? Maybe once I have linked the data in my brain, I will see the bigger picture. 

In the meantime though and to enable me not to go mad, I do need to occasionally climb up to the hills, sit back and enjoy the view!

Bring It On!

Considering I missed the first 2 weeks of my course pretty much in their entirety, I am a little stuck (to say the least) as to what to reflect on… I was busy sunning myself in the South of France – a holiday booked long before I even knew I would apply to do an MSc in Information Science at City University of London! I was also busy celebrating 24 years of marriage (my own!). So I did have a valid excuse…

Nevertheless, I have a confession to make. 

After the induction session, I was on a roll – so excited to be learning about a subject fairly new to me albeit familiar within the context of my job for the last year: Customer Service Assistant in a public library in Kent. I was SO ready to go back to Uni (after 16 years!) and learn some more. Despite this excitement, I did go away on holiday but rejoined the rest of the students at the end of week 2. I feel a little intimidated, scared even, at the content and scope of some of the modules but I am prepared to give it my best, to learn and absorb with intent and enjoy every minute of it. 

I might not have much to reflect on but the little I have heard so far in lectures and the basis on which I have interacted with fellow student colleagues, is already spurring me on to read and research to gain better understanding of what a vital subject Information Science is to our ever-evolving society. From the depths of time to the distant future, I will have been privileged to be a minute part of its history.

Bring it on!