What is information science for? A review of Search foundations

Tim Gorichanaz
2019 Education for Information  
What is information science for? As technologies and cultures change, this is a question that keeps bubbling to the surface (Borko, 1968; Capurro, 1992; Gorichanaz, 2017) . And along with it, related questions: What does it mean to make progress in this field? What is the relation between the various areas of the information field? Are these sciences? In this book, Arafat and Ashoori develop answers to these questions -and they offer the conceptual tools needed to keep answering them far into
more » ... e future. This is an ambitious work with a broad scope, one that examines and challenges the foundations of the information field writ large. In brief, the authors reimagine the information field as a science of technologymediated experience. Along the way, they develop in detail the concepts of technology, mediation and experience. Some contributions of the book are metatheoretical, while others are directly substantive. First, I will discuss some of the metatheoretical contributions. The first four chapters of the book articulate the need for and importance of basic research in the field. Arafat and Ashoori start by observing the broadening scope and ubiquity of information technology today. They suggest this goes along with the trend in information science and retrieval 1 (styled IR&S) of moving from ad-hoc projects and research questions to non-ad-hoc ones. This movement demands conceptual thinking. As the authors write, "Technical questions on interface and algorithm design, or about the functionality and usability of a search interface, presuppose more basic questions" 1 The authors use IR&S as an umbrella term for both information science (IS) and information retrieval (IR). In general they are not concerned with differentiating these two fields -wisely, in my opinion, as the division may be specious to begin with. But puzzlingly they do seem to separate them at times, such as in the claim that "when the purpose of IR&S is mentioned, it should be taken to refer to the purpose of IS, which employs IR to partially fulfill this purpose" (p. 225).
doi:10.3233/efi-199012 fatcat:42omqxfbivcxnpmgkgqlacoumq