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Please note that I haven't updated this site since January 2010.
Please see http://furner.info/ for current information.
-- Jonathan Furner (July 28, 2011)
Hi! I'm an associate professor in the Department of Information Studies, which is part of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. The aim of information studies is to understand the ways in which people interact with information—how and why they produce it, organize it, look for it, communicate it, and put it to use.
Specifically, I'm interested in a subfield of information studies that's sometimes known as cultural informatics. Cultural informatics looks at the ways in which cultural institutions (libraries, archives, museums, etc.) organize information about the resources (books, artworks, images, etc.) that they collect. The general idea is that the more effectively cultural information is organized, the more easily people can find the resources that they're interested in—and the more easily they can learn about those resources, learn about the cultural contexts in which those resources are produced, and learn about their own (and other people's) attitudes and values.
Even more specifically, I'm interested in the history, theory, and philosophy of documentation—where "documentation" means the activity of identifying, recording, and organizing information about resources (a.k.a. documents). The effectiveness of contemporary practice in this area depends to a large extent on our understanding of the nature of documents, of the nature of our descriptions of documents, and of the nature of our reasons for making decisions of certain kinds when designing document retrieval systems. Over the years, though, many different explanations and interpretations of many different kinds have been offered of document-related phenomena. I'm interested in tracing the historical development of such attempts to provide theoretical foundations for the field, and in identifying the various philosophical commitments (ontological, epistemological, ethical) of the different attempts.
These interests are quite interdisciplinary, in the sense that people working in these areas draw on methods and ideas developed in several other related fields. Some of the fields that I look to for ideas are listed here:
Last updated 2008.06.24