Relevance and Creativity
Wayne de Fremery and Michael Buckland
Relevance has long been considered a central concept in information science, but it has notoriously resisted satisfactory explanation. Most discussions of relevance have focused instead on potential and/or probable relevance and the design of information services has centered on creating infrastructure for predicting what might be relevant. Other concepts, notably topicality, guide design.
We explore the idea that relevance can be understood as creative opportunity, and that this reconceptualization of relevance may provide information scientists an avenue forward for research on relevance. Systems can be designed to afford creative opportunities — new ideas or old stable facts needed for new situations — in addition to (or instead of) topically similar documents that information scientists have identified as [potentially or probably] “relevant.”
Wayne de Fremery is an associate professor of Korean literature at Sogang University in South Korea, where he develops new technologies for investigating Korean literature and documentary traditions, and director of the Korea Text Initiative at the Cambridge Institute for the Study of Korea. He holds a doctorate from Harvard University in east Asian languages and civilizations, a master’s in Korean studies from Seoul National University, and a bachelor’s in economics from Whitman College. Wayne is the author of a growing number of academic publications about bibliography and the socialization of twentieth-century Korean literary texts. In 2011, his book-length translation of poetry by Jeongrye Choi, Instances, appeared from Parlor Press. His current book project is titled Computational Bibliography and the Sociology of Data. He is also at work on a manuscript titled How Poetry Mattered in 1920s Korea.
Michael Buckland is emeritus professor in the School of Information and co-director of the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative. He grew up in England and studied history at Oxford and librarianship at Sheffield University. He trained at the Bodleian Library in Oxford and moved to the University of Lancaster Library in 1965. In 1972, Buckland moved to the United States to be Assistant Director of Libraries for Technical Services at Purdue University Libraries before becoming Dean of the School of Library and Information Studies at Berkeley from 1976 to 1984. He served from 1983 to 1987 as Assistant Vice President for Library Plans and Policies for the nine campuses of the University of California. Professor Buckland’s interests include bibliography, library services, search and discovery, cultural heritage, and the history and theory of documentation.