Allen Renear: "Letting Go: "An Eliminativist Ontology of the Digital World—and What It Means for Data Curation"
Home > Dialogues > Allen Renear: "Letting Go: "An Eliminativist Ontology of the Digital World—and What It Means for Data Curation"
Interim Dean and Professor
Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS), University of Illinois
MITH Conference Room
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
co-sponsored by University Libraries
It seems we have quite a bit to say about things that don’t exist. This is fine as long we don’t confuse ourselves — and, indeed, idiom and metaphor are indispensable to ordinary communication. But increasingly information systems design, policies, procedures, and documentation are based on logic-based knowledge representation strategies that are profoundly literal, and profoundly unforgiving. Accommodating these strategies will require developing ontologies that revise our common sense conceptual schemes in ways that are sure to be unsettling. These ontologies may be more accurate, and, in the long run they may even be more serviceable, but they will not be familiar, and they will require substantial revision of our descriptions of common activities and processes.
Allen Renear is Interim Dean and Professor at GSLIS. He teaches courses and leads research in information modeling, data curation, digital humanities, scientific publishing, and the conceptual foundations of information organization. Prior to coming to the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, he was the Director of the Brown University Scholarly Technology Group. Dr. Renear received an AB from Bowdoin College and an MA and PhD from Brown University. His research is typically concerned with foundational issues in the development of formal ontologies for scientific and cultural objects, and the exploitation of those ontologies in data curation, scientific publishing and information system design. Recently his work has focused on fundamental issues in the curation of scientific datasets and conceptual models for data management and preservation. This includes topics such as levels of abstraction and encoding, identity, ontology, etc. His projects are located at the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship (CIRSS) and have been funded by NSF and IMLS.
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