Monday, 26 September 2011

Information/Library Sciency...Stuffs?

Well, as they say, "You learn something new every day", and today, on my first day of the MA/MSc Library Science course, I learned some really random stuff that everyone should know but most people don't.  Like a byte is made up of 8 bits, and so therefore a kilobyte is 1024 bytes, and a megabyte is 1024 kilobytes and so on.

To everyone who knows all this already, and who are sniggering behind their sleeves at me... Yeah.  I admit it.  I was one of those dumb people who actually believed that a kilobyte is 1000 bytes.  But hey, what is my first Library Science class for, if not to learn the BASICS of the BASICS.  You'd think that since I spend half my life online, I'd know all this stuff already.  But I realised, sometimes you get so immersed in something, and it becomes so much a part of your life, that you don't really stop to think about the ins and outs and how things work.  It's a bit like language.  How often do you think about grammar, or the letters that make up the words you say and why they're arranged that way?  So today, I really learned for the first time about the 'letters' of digital information - bits and bytes, and files and formats.

Random stuff (for me) to keep a note of:-

  • Formats can be interoperable, but most often are not.
  • What's the difference between files and documents?  Files = named collections of related digital information.  Documents = a build up of information using different files, e.g. a blog entry incorporating text, images, videos etc.

The easier part of the Digital Information Technology & Architectures class was actually making a web page with all the links and the images and such.  I'm much more comfortable with the doing than I am with the theory (except when Blogger decides it hates me :p).

Next up - Library & Information Science Foundation... Well, that's a pretty nebulous title.  I didn't quite know what to expect.  The last thing I was expecting was history - one of my fave hobbies!  Lyn gave an awesome and informative lecture on the history of information, documents and writing.  We kind of take it for granted that we live in a proverbial sea of information, something that surrounds us and is just 'there'.  But where did it all begin, and when did it start be organised?  And how?  From cave paintings to scrolls, from the telegraph to the World Wide Web, the creation of information is a journey that is still going on, expanding, developing  exponentially... And the big question is, how do we organise this proliferation of information?  And that's where Library Science comes in.  Fascinating stuff.

Which got me to thinking... history + libraries = the Library of Alexandria.  A storehouse of ancient knowledge lost when it burned down somewhere between 48 BCE and 642 CE.

Think about all the priceless information we lost along with the library.  Think of the glee of all those librarians had they ever had the chance to transcribe, archive and digitise all those documents.  Sadly, they're all (mostly) gone - and therefore probably one less thing for us to worry about. :p