Associate Professor in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, where he previously served as Vice Dean and Acting Dean
Friday, Jun 15, 9:00 - 10:30 AM
Organizing or classifying a domain in any one way inevitably privileges or brings into more prominence some concepts, perspectives, experiences, viewpoints or issues, and marginalizes or moves out of view others. In this sense, any act of classification inevitably fails to do justice to at least some dimensions of that which is classified. While the last couple of decades of inquiries into information organization have refocused the conceptual foundation of the field, it has failed to provide for a sound ethical theory of classification.
Until recently the field was more or less founded on a position akin to naïve realism but more recent explorations have reposition mainstream theory of information organization to align it with contemporary social oriented theories of meaning, information and activities. One purpose of this project of realignment has been to advocate a “relativistic” understanding of classification and argue that a classification can only be developed, evaluated and judged from within specific social and cultural contexts.
In this talk I will outline some challenges of classification research and provide arguments to reposition its foundation from ontic and epistemic questions to one based in moral philosophy. The stating point for this exploration will be to suggest that instead of asking what is to be classified (as in ontological based approaches) or asking what we know about that which is classified (as in epistemological based approaches), classification research should primarily devise just classifications.
Jens-Erik is interested in basic questions about the nature of information phenomena; he has explored these from a variety of conceptual points (e.g. semiotics, cognitive work analysis, late-modernity, philosophy of language, trust) often with a focus on issues and questions in the organization of information. He has contributed conceptual constructions as well as methodological and programmatic papers that have helped forward thinking about the organization of information. His most recent publications explore authority and trust in information systems and services, and contemporary classification theory's conceptual foundation in modernity.
He teaches courses on representation of information, classification, design of controlled vocabularies, and the theoretical foundation of information studies.
Jens-Erik currently serves on the Board of Directors of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, as Consulting Editor of the Knowledge Organization journal, as member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Aslib Proceedings, and he was the Conference Chair for iConference 2012held in Toronto in Feb., 2012.
Jens-Erik was previously on the faculty at the Information School of the University of Washington where he also co-directed the Center for Human-Information Interaction; prior to that he was a faculty member at the Royal School of Library and Information Science, Denmark. He earned his Ph.D. in Library and Information Science from the University of Texas at Austin as a Fulbright Scholar and his Master and Bachelor degrees from the Royal School of Library and Information Science, Denmark.