Why I Started My Own Business

data cloud | source: iStock_000051876648Large
I am often asked why I started my business, rather than go into a full-time research or academic position. I thought I would answer this question as my first LinkedIn post.

The primary reason I started my business was simply the inner drive to provide for a business need I perceived. As a doctoral student, while other students were considering their pedagogy, I was pondering how to take Information and Library Science theory and practice into the business world in such a way that I could provide value-added services to corporations, research organizations, and other entities to improve their bottom line.

In other words, I had worked in corporate information technology for several years before going to graduate school, and I knew that “Garbage In equals Garbage Out”. Data Science may be the sexy new job, but all the statistical and analytical abilities will not help an analysis if the data itself is not clean, retrievable, and useable. As well, most organizations have not even begun to think about how to manage and preserve this information and data into the indefinite future. (By that, I mean 10 to 100 years down the road.)

The costs of managing all of this data are astronomical. For example, the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wrote in 2007 that it costs 1200 times more to preserve a digital movie than it does a film movie. Yes, the costs of storage are going down, but the amount of data being stored is growing exponentially versus the cost reduction of storage, so companies are spending a lot of money to store data they may not need to keep, and their storage costs are therefore growing. Plus, dark storage and back ups do not ensure that the data will be usable or retrievable in the future.

A second reason is that I learned to surf as an adult, and I would like to travel, work, and surf. Having my own business would allow me to work remotely, either solo on a project, or in tandem with a team, compared to working at a corporation or academic and research institution. Therefore, I started my own business because I want to help organizations tame their data, surf, travel, and make a living, all at the same time.

Science and Technology Council. (2007). The digital dilemma strategic issues in archiving and accessing digital motion picture materials. The Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Hollywood, CA: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

This article first appeared on LinkedIn on 24 July 2015 as “Why I Started My Own Business“.

What is an Information Scientist and What is Information Science?

This is a word cloud of the titles of my refereed papers, non-refereed papers, book, posters, briefing papers, reports, presentations, and demonstrations, c. 2002-2015.

This is a word cloud of the titles of my refereed papers, non-refereed papers, book, posters, briefing papers, reports, presentations, and demonstrations, c. 2002-2015.

Over the years I have been asked what I do and what my profession does in general. I know what I do, but I’m better at writing than speaking, and I often stumble over my words. The other day I found these definitions, thanks to the State of North Carolina’s Division of Employment Security job classifications.

Here’s what I am:

109.067-010 INFORMATION SCIENTIST (profess. & kin.) alternate titles: chief information officer; information broker; information manager; information resources director; information resources manager. Designs information systems to provide management or clients with specific data from computer storage, utilizing knowledge of electronic data processing principles, mathematics, and computer capabilities: Develops and designs methods and procedures for collecting, organizing, interpreting, and classifying information for input into computer and retrieval of specific information from computer, utilizing knowledge of symbolic language and optical or pattern recognition principles. Develops alternate designs to resolve problems in input, storage, and retrieval of information. May specialize in specific field of information science, such as scientific or engineering research, or in specific discipline, such as business, medicine, education, aerospace, or library science. GOE: 11.01.01 STRENGTH: S GED: R5 M5 L5 SVP: 7 DLU: 77

The authors of this Wikipedia article also provide this definition of an “Information Scientist”:

The term information scientist developed in the latter part of the twentieth century to describe an individual, usually with a relevant subject degree or high level of subject knowledge, providing focused information to scientific and technical research staff in industry, a role quite distinct from and complementary to that of a librarian. Developments in end-user searching, together with some convergence between the roles of librarian and information scientist, have led to a diminution in its use in this context, and the term information officer or information professional are also now used.

The term was, and is, also used for an individual carrying out research in information science.

And here is what I do:

in·for·ma·tion sci·ence
noun: information science
the study of processes for storing and retrieving information, especially scientific or technical information.

Some Wikipedia authors provide this definition of Information Science:

Information science is an interdisciplinary field primarily concerned with the analysis, collection, classification, manipulation, storage, retrieval, movement, dissemination, and protection of information.[1] Practitioners within the field study the application and usage of knowledge in organizations, along with the interaction between people, organizations and any existing information systems, with the aim of creating, replacing, improving, or understanding information systems. Information science is often (mistakenly) considered a branch of Library science; however, it predates computer science and is actually a broad, interdisciplinary field, incorporating not only aspects of computer science, but often diverse fields such as archival science, cognitive science, commerce, communications, law, library science, museology, management, mathematics, philosophy, public policy, and the social sciences.

As well as this definition of the profession by Borko:

Information science is that discipline that investigates the properties and behavior of information, the forces governing the flow of information, and the means of processing information for optimum accessibility and usability. It is concerned with that body of knowledge relating to the origination, collection, organization, storage, retrieval, interpretation, transmission, transformation, and utilization of information. This includes the investigation of information representations in both natural and artificial systems, the use of codes for efficient message transmission, and the study of information processing devices and techniques such as computers and their programming systems. It is an interdisciplinary science derived from and related to such fields as mathematics, logic, linguistics, psychology, computer technology, operations research, the graphic arts, communications, library science, management, and other similar fields. It has both a pure science component, which inquires into the subject without regard to its application, and an applied science component, which develops services and products. (Borko, 1968, p.3).[3]

My dissertation focuses on the application and translation of human language policies into computer code so that we can reduce the cost of managing large amounts of research and technical data.

I hope these snippets of definitions have helped you to understand what I do, and what my field does.