A wondferful profile by Lynn Barber in Sundays’s (UK) Observer features the career of ‘The Scissor Sister’ or ‘human Google’ Edda Tasiemka who, after 55 years, is selling her amazing cuttings library and retiring. ‘Whizzy management types are fond of telling us that nowadays you can find everything on the internet’ writes Barber, ‘but actually it is rare to find any newspaper stories over five years old or any magazine articles at all, whereas one quick phone call to an elderly German widow in the suburbs can provide precisely what you need. Almost every profile writer and biographer I know uses Tasiemka, and everyone who uses her raves about her’. Barber’s story reminded me of the time I went to a meeting of librarians at MIT a few years ago. Even since Vannevar Bush had proposed his ideas about ‘memex’ in 1945, old-style librarians had been told repeatedly that they faced extinction. And yet, in 2000, with the internet in full swing, they discovered that their human-only information retrieval and recombination skills had become more valuable than ever. It’s a lesson we will discuss at Doors in the session on how best to share design knowledge.
Posted by John Thackara at March 14, 2005 09:17 AM