Posted by R. John Howe on March 01, 1999 at 05:40:00:
Dear folks -
Michael brightened my morning with his "Brother can you paradim" heading. It suggests strongly that he spent some time at the University of Michigan (and he did) and perhaps came in contact with my old professor Inis Claude (now retired from Virginia) or with "P.S" an auxilliary publication of the American Political Scince Association, in which Claude (who was very good with language) once published a long piece doggeral (sp?) verse, poking fun at the pretentions of "scientized" political science. Michael's heading is the closing line of this hilarious piece.
And Michael is probably right to say that Kuhn was talking about a somewhat different phenomenon, that is, a very basic shift often affecting a whole array of theories, for example, that involved in move away from a view that the earth was the center of our solar system to one that recognized that the sun was.
But the word "paradigm" has now been adopted (to some extent this may reflect the popularity of Kuhn's book), some would say has been debased, in general parlance to refer to any sizable change that attracts our attention.
Third, without debating at all the appropriateness of Jerry's use of the word "paradigm" (I experienced a small "paradigm" shift of my own in realizing that PR types might have actually read Kuhn. That violated seriously what Einstein called my "ideals of natural order. :-0 But Jerry, I think, is right to say that something worth noticing is going on here. The problem is how best to describe it and how to determine what it's implications are likely to be in the rug world.
I am involved with computers and the Intenet, both at work and at home and one feature that continually attracts my attention is how they have enhanced information flow. It has become far less costly to obtain information about nearly anything.
To pursue Jerry's book example, until recently I faithfully read both Antique Week book want adds and the rug book dealer paper-based catalogs for my book needs. But this has changed.
A month ago I was searching for a copy of Turkoman Studies 1 and did a scan on the Internet and rather quickly found a copy for $40. This is a book that is currently priced at over $100. The availability of this book at this price would have been entirely invisible to me before internet.
Similarly, I ran on to a copy of an English country house murder mystery, full of wonderful arcane spoken English (try "glyptic")written by a Michael Innes in the 40s and long since out of print. Within a half hour on the Internet, I was able to find six of Innes' other books in this series at a price of $5 each. Not likely before Intenet.
So while I'm not sure how big the changes entailed by this new medium will be (it will depend in part on our ability to learn to use it at its strengths), I think Jerry is right to call our attention to it and to foster some conversation about what we might see as its salient features.
Post a Followup