Recent Reading

Introduction to Information Science

By David Bawden and Lyn Robinson

If you want to pass this course you will need this one!

Easy to read and not too heavy.  I bought my own copy to annotate and carry it around with me just in case I have a few spare moments to study.

Some academic books can be very highbrow and full of their own academic importance for students starting out to be able to understand.  This one isn’t one of them. It has a clarity of text that makes it easily accessible and is set out thematically covering all the aspects we will visit. With a holistically philosophical approach, it discusses themes such as the historical foundations of documents, the birth/introduction of technologies and the changing aspects of the information field and practices.  It also covers metadata and its impacts on our global society.  This is the ‘go to’ book for this MSc course and covers all the key elements we will need (no wonder as our tutors wrote it).

I found the history of documents extremely interesting, an illuminating foundation within the context of the module.  It doesn’t all make sense to me yet but I am sure it will as we touch on each component still to come. It is expensive at around £50 but not as expensive as some academic books I have purchased in the past.

The 4th Revolution: How the Infosphere is Shaping Human Reality.

By Luciano Floridi

Luciano Floridi is a professor of Philosophy and Ethics at Oxford and in his book, The 4th Revolution: How the Infosphere is Shaping Human Reality, discusses the present and future impact on mankind of the technological information boom in philosophical terms. This book discusses the connections humans are making with the internet globally and the impact and responsibilities that come with that. He creates a world of inforgs living in the infosphere and uses many more concepts and language that I had not been introduced to before. A thought-provoking and in some aspects concerning text about our interactions with information and its technologies: you may just be assimilated along the way.  It is worth accessing via the library resources but is not as expensive as some at around £5.00 (used).

I feel that political leaders globally ought to read this text to put into context what responsibilities they have for future generations. For they manage how we approach working with information technology and protect us from those who wish to exploit it to for their own gain and our detriment.

     I enjoyed this so much I bought a copy for myself. 

               Cataloging the World. Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age.

                                                                  By Alex Wright.  

Beautifully written this book is a story of a man before his time who tried to organise and catalogue history for future generations. Paul Otlet, his life’s work, ‘the Mundanium’ and his colleagues La Fontaine and the ‘Les Amis du Palais Mondial’ lay largely forgotten in the dust of time until rediscovered by a young research studeChicago Chicago, Boyd Raywood. Just like Leonardo Da Vinci and his sketches of machines of the future, Paul Otlet had a vision well before his time. A forward thinker, he predicted the world of computers (Electric Telescopes) and global information sharing via his version of the internet. (Réseau Mondial) 50 years before it came to fruition.

I feel this book comes with a sense of sadness that is born of the obsession and addiction of bringing order to ‘informational overload’.  It tells of the loss of what was an amazing collection of historical material due to Nazi plundering in WWII, leaving Otlet a broken man (Alex Wright. 2014).  This is not just a book for students and academics but also for anyone that enjoys reading about facets of 19th Century history.   In addition, it has a beautifully designed and engaging book web page that is well worth the visit at It is an inexpensive purchase at around £5 (used), also available at the Northampton Square Library.

Alex Wright recently (2014) took part in a conference in Brussels about Otlet and La Fontaine.  In partnership with Google, they discussed the book that brings Otlet’s vision of the Mondanium, the Mondanium today, its work and metadata into today’s perspective.

Wright, A. (2014) Cataloging the World, Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Information: A Very Short Introduction.

By Luciano Floridi

This is a small, light and a precise little book which can fit into your pocket. It presents a quick, user-friendly overview of the topic from a philosophical stance.  It is recommended by David Bowden who suggests that ‘This should be read by everyone with an interest in the foundations of the information sciences’ (2011. p165).  Thus far, I have dipped into this for its chapters on The information revolution, The language of information and The ethics of information to date.  I will be very honest and state that I do not understand all of this,  for a small book it takes you down many avenues quickly, but am hoping that it will fall into place as I continue to read other texts and attend lectures. I do, however, appreciate the use of metaphors and analogies that Professor Floridi uses to clarify some of the concepts he is aiming to convey and at under £5 (used), it is an affordable read. It is also available in the City University Library as both a book and an ebook.

Floridi, L. (2010) INFORMATION: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bawden, D. (2012) The philosophy of information, FLORIDI, L. Reviewed in: Library and Information Research. Volume 36, 112 2012 p163-166. Available online Accessed on 14th Nov 2017.