ISKO Italia. Documenti

Organizzare la conoscenza umanistica in una prospettiva analitica
Il ricercatore come fonte
Organizing knowledge in the humanities by an analytical perspective
The re-searcher as a source

by Cristiana Bettella
(University of Padua, ISKO Italy)


presented at 3rd ISKO Italy-UniMIB meeting : Milan : 22 June 2007

For comments and further information, please feel free to correspond with the author.


In the context of a broader investigation of the Humanities and the digital information environment, I wish to start the report with an introductory discussion on the role the domain user can assume for the comprehension and constitution of knowledge organization systems. After a brief terminological account of the word ricercatore, I attempt to analyse its own semantics exploring the dual facet of the domain user, information consumer and producer of knowledge, in the light of the first results of an ongoing ethnographic study carried out on an Italian research community.


users study; philosophers; ethnography; knowledge organization systems; digital information environment


To transform information services into knowledge integrated systems is perhaps the main challenge which invests today the Librarianship and Information Studies (LIS) community. The new technological entities, within the hybrid coexistence of physical and digital objects, represent a sort of time hinge where tradition and innovation become interchangeable concepts. This imposes a reformulation of both reading and writing processes as cultural paradigms, as well as the textualisation and computational process into new knowledge formats (Lynch 2006).

It is the multi-disciplinary landscape of the Humanities that has subsumed the exposed living dichotomy, forcing and blurring the boundaries of the disciplines with a resounding effect both on the research methodologies and theoretical foundations. The epistemological consequences are still unpredictable, feeding a burning debate within the international scientific community.

According to the philosopher Gloria Origgi, within the new digital information environment, "la recherche n'est plus la même et pas seulement la recherche: toutes les pratiques qui accompagnent la vie scientifique, -- la consultation de sources, l'organization du savoir, le système disciplinaire, le contrôle de la qualité scientifique, l'enseignement, la construction de la réputation scientifique -- ont subi une mutation profonde qui mérite une analyse détaillée" (Origgi 2006: 4).

This paper is part of a broader investigation I am carrying out on the Humanities and the new digital information environment. By juxtaposing the adjective digital to the Humanities, I mean to include on one hand the impact that the digital information is having within the disciplinary conspectus informed by the so called Human Sciences; on the other hand the impact that the computational process is having on the cultural objects as humanists’ core artefacts and on their worthwhile embedding in the research practices.

I think in fact that the digital process, which has pervasively affected the previous system of knowledge, cannot avoid considering both the inside’s view of a discipline as a knowledge domain, and the ones of the domain user, who participates and concurs to the vital production and construction of the knowledge domain, either in a passive or active way.

The paper is divided in two halves. In the first part, I introduce the changing identity card of the humanistic researcher in the new digital information environment; in the second one I discuss the preliminary results of the ongoing ethnographic investigation which I am conducting on researchers in philosophy with the aim to explore their digital dimension. The methodological framework which surrounds this study is also provided.

[to be continued]


Organizzare la conoscenza umanistica in una prospettiva analitica : il ricercatore come fonte = Organizing knowledge in the humanities by an analytical perspective : the re-searcher as a source / Cristiana Bettella = (ISKO Italia. Documenti) – <> : 2007.06.21 - 2007.06.29 -