Ryan Shaw to present "Conceptualizing the Past: Historical Events and Knowledge Organization"

February 26, 2010

Photo of Ryan ShawRyan Shaw will be on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus Friday, March 19 to present, "Conceptualizing the Past: Historical Events and Knowledge Organization."

The presentation, which is free and open to the public, will take place in room 307 of Manning Hall at 10 a.m.

(NOTE: For those who attend the presentation, please complete the survey that will be available here following the event.)

We understand the past in two ways: through the study and interpretation of documents that have survived into the present from the past, and through texts that exhibit these interpretations and represent the past. Both ways of understanding necessarily involve knowledge organization systems. These systems codify the concepts and relationships through which the past is made intelligible. Of particular importance are those concepts that make historical change intelligible: periods and events. Yet historical periods and events have received relatively little attention from designers of knowledge organization systems. As a result, existing systems are rooted in impoverished theories of the historical past. Drawing on his dissertation work, Shaw will argue that critical theories of history can clarify and guide the design of new systems for historical knowledge organization. Looking forward, he will frame this work as a point of departure for a research program in which humanistic inquiry into the production of meaning informs the design of digital tools and environments.

About Ryan Shaw
Ryan Shaw is a student in the School of Information at University of California, Berkeley, pursuing a doctoral degree in Information Management and Systems with a Designated Emphasis in New Media. After studying symbolic systems at Stanford as an undergraduate, he worked for five years in Tokyo, Japan, as a software developer before returning to graduate school in 2003. From 2005 to 2007 he worked at Yahoo! Research Berkeley, where he invented social media and mobile media technology that enabled people to create, describe, find, share and remix media on the Web. Currently he is working with the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative to develop new kinds of digital tools for humanities scholars. He has also been involved in a number of new media arts projects, most recently developing the software for The Builders Association's production Continuous City.