Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Paper Ideas

Once again I have to purge my brain of the various article ideas that are clogging up the neural pathways…

1. Authors like Eugene Ferguson claim that there are two types of technical literature from the Renaissance. Agricola's work documents existing practice. Ramelli's work documents fantasy technology that could not exist. It would be interesting-to me at least-to prove that Ramelli's work actually could exist. His drawings could be scaled and through some rudimentary calculations based on current engineering knowledge, the feasibility of the designs could be established. Two types of analysis may be appropriate: a review of the static mechanics inherent in Ramelli's devices for crossing water and some sort of gearing ratio investigation for his various ways of raising water. The basic questions would be: would they actually stand, and could a person actually use it. Working title: Crossing water: assessing the feasibility of Ramelli's technical drawings.

2. I've become interested in the word "information"-but who hasn't. I'm particularly fascinated by the way the term gets used by the vendors of content management software. Their marketing seems to resonate with LIS doctrine yet it has become somehow bastardized. A content analysis of their marketing materials and annual reports would be quite interesting. Working title: The business of information: assessing the discourse of content management.

3. Carrying on from the business side of information, I've started to look at industry analysts. How, exactly have these institutions emerged? A book on the history of the industry is certainly in order. As a starting point, however, I could look at Gartner's Magic Quadrant. The back-story of its emergence and popularization of this discursive (and graphical) gem could prove very interesting.

4. One thing I've written about in the past is the dream of combining IR and SNA techniques for improved knowledge discovery tools (how easily I fall back into the rhetoric!). In my previous forrays on the topic I was lacking an appropriate corpus of email. One has emerged. It seems that Enron basically just dumpted their entire email corpus into the public domain and any number of researchers are using it to investigate the properties of email. A downloadable version of the Enron email file is available as MySQL dump. A number of other resources are available, notably a page posted by William Cohen and an article in Salon. I'm not sure how I overlooked this resource when I was looking everywhere for a corpus!


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