Weeknote 38 2023

§1 The Physician to Librarian Spectrum

I have a theory of technology that places every informational product on a spectrum from Physician to Librarian:

The Physician’s primary aim is to protect you from context. In diagnosing or treating you, they draw on years of training, research, and personal experience, but rather than presenting that information to you in its raw form, they condense and synthesize. This is for good reason: When you go to a doctor’s office, your primary aim is not to have your curiosity sparked or to dive into primary sources; you want answers, in the form of diagnosis or treatment. The Physician saves you time and shelters you from information that might be misconstrued or unnecessarily anxiety-provoking.

In contrast, the Librarian’s primary aim is to point you toward context. In answering your questions, they draw on years of training, research, and personal experience, and they use that to pull you into a conversation with a knowledge system, and with the humans behind that knowledge system. The Librarian may save you time in the short term by getting you to a destination more quickly. But in the long term, their hope is that the destination will reveal itself to be a portal. They find thought enriching, rather than laborious, and understand their expertise to be in wayfinding rather than solutions. Sometimes you ask a Librarian a question and they point you to a book that is an answer to a question you didn’t even think to ask. Sometimes you walk over to the stacks to retrieve the book, only for a different book to catch your eye instead. This too is success to the Librarian.

There are book reviews that say “I read this so you don’t have to” (Physician), and others that say “I read this and you should too” (Librarian).

Elan Ullendorff, Aug 2, 2023, Google’s Search Box Changed the Meaning of Information

§2 Fixing Search

The first part of the fix is that search engines should not be exposed to people as web sites. Instead, they should be an API that the browser accesses and renders itself. (For non-technical people, this means that your browser would get data describing search results from one or more search engines, and show it to you in the way you prefer.)

API-based search isn’t new (in fact it used to be the expected approach) and it comes with multiple benefits…

Fixing Search: We Don’t Have To Put Up With Broken Search by Robin Berjon, 2023-09-15

§3 When “not contrary to the public interest”, which public?

The question the Court struggled with was the interpretation to be given to Section 730 of the Criminal Code which says an accused may be discharged absolutely or on conditions if the court “considers it to be in the best interests of the accused and [and my emphasis] not contrary to the public interest.”

It is this last phrase the Court focused on, “not contrary to the public interest”. Did that mean the Haudenosaunee public interest, the settler community public interest or both?

In answering this question, the Court was grateful for the defence calling two eminently qualified experts, Dr. Richard Monture, an English professor at McMaster University who has read, researched and listened to those who have understood the history of Six Nations; and Dr. Beverly Jacobs, dean at the University of Windsor Law School who spoke about Haudenosaunee legal traditions.

R. v. Williams, 2023 ONCJ 393 (CanLII)

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