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New chapter: Finding knowledge – what is it to ‘know’ when we search?

The gyri of the thinker's brain as a maze of choices in biomedical ethics

L0027293 Credit: Wellcome Library, London The gyri of the thinker’s brain as a maze of choices [in biomedical ethics]. Scraperboard drawing by Bill Sanderson, 1997. Drawing 1997 By: Bill Sanderson Library reference no.: ICV No 51428 Full Bibliographic Record Link to Wellcome Library Catalogue Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 2.0, see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

New upload on ORO today linked to my talk in Amsterdam.

Knight, Simon (2014). Finding knowledge – what is it to ‘know’ when we search? In: König, René and Rasch, Miriam eds. Society of the Query Reader: Reflections on Web Search. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, (In press).

Abstract

The issue of the epistemological implications of our social and technical interactions with information is the subject of this essay. This will be specified by looking at the role of the search engine as an informant, offering testimonial knowledge on a query; at the question of how the receiver of testimony should be taken into account by those giving the information; and how we should deal with multiplicity of perspectives, or indeed gaps in our knowledge.

We should seek to understand the nature of ‘knowledge’, and how informants – including non-human informants – mediate our understanding of the world around us, and have always done so. This essay turns to these questions, discussing some issues with researching technological changes, and then what role search functions fulfill, and how such functions affect our own understanding of ‘knowledge’.

Such an analysis has profound implications, for example in education. Under what circumstances do we accept that students ‘know’ something; how we do we decide that they know (that is, how do educators claim knowledge on their student’s knowledge states); but also what sort of knowledge is important important to know in such a situation, these are all important questions. Furthermore, how we think about the future of such technology and the ways that technology might change what we know (for better or worse) is important.


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