[I wrote this in 2008-09]
The current emphasis of Information Science is on knowledge— specifically knowledge processing—that is to say, the production and use of knowledge. Whereas before the emphasis was on providing information, now Information Science seeks to help users understand and make use of this information thereby creating new knowledge and utilizations. An interdisciplinary perspective and the primacy of the user are distinguished as necessary prerequisites for the successful implantation of information systems today (Oluic-Vukovic, 2001 p. 55)
Hip-Hop is a relatively new cultural phenomenon. This paper is not concerned with the history of Hip-Hop, or even a definition so I will only touch on some fundamental aspects of Hip-Hop. It really began in the 1970’s and has roots in African American culture. There are at least three distinct aspects of Hip-Hop culture: Music, Dance, and Art. The music developed out of a mashup of Caribbean dj music and African American soul and funk. The lyrics of the music—called rap can be traced to Toasting, and other African American lyrical legacies. It is important to remember that this new musical innovation did not come from a record company, or the music industry. These musical innovations came from people, who for the most part, lived in poverty, and had little to no tools.
In the past twenty years or so academics have taken to writing about Hip-Hop and creating new knowledge out of the intellectual information generated by various dissemination venues ranging from the creation of new Hip-Hop beats and songs to popular magazine articles to MTV to radio interviews, to essays and articles by sociologists, philosophers, cultural critics, etc…
This paper seeks to analyze the creation of new knowledge in the area of Hip-Hop studies through various disciplines and public knowledge. Public knowledge is very
important in Hip-Hop as it is where, for the most part, innovation and creation come from. I say for the most part because many Hip-Hop artists and critics are well rounded and draw influences in their work from various areas including literature and history as well as cultural studies.
The model used for analysis is that defined by Achleitner as the information transfer process (Achleitner, p. 143). The information transfer process is composed of four different aspects: creation which involves research, dissemination, which involves distribution, diffusion, which involves teaching and learning, and utilization which involves application and service. I will also include preservation in this paper as it is required. The information transfer process exists in a milieu which includes culture, technology, economics, and policy (Achleitner, p. 143). All of these aspects have an impact on the Information transfer process.
New knowledge creation is dependent on research. Research in new Hip-Hop information is conducted on many levels. One aspect of research that can not be underestimated is the lone experimenter in their bedroom or basement creating new beats and lyrical styles. I won’t focus on this aspect because this paper is too short to go into this in detail—suffice it to say this is important for, in the end, these new open-source creations impact knowledge at the university level.
Books are written on Hip-Hop from a serious academic viewpoint as illustrated by such books as the Hip Hop Reader, Black Noise, Holler if You Hear Me, among many others. These books take Hip-Hop seriously and use academic analysis and vigorous investigations into the social and historical legacies of the artists, innovations, and tragedies of Hip-Hop music.
Academics use different forms of analysis to create knowledge about Hip-Hop. Several of these are: Feminist interpretation, Capitalist--value based analysis (Machlup,
1979, p. 449), to critical forms from sources of Public Knowledge like Bill Cosby’s critical writings on Hip-Hop culture (Cosby).
In this essay I am using Hip-Hop to articulate Information Transfer aspects to people using preferred language, information that is timely, that users can adapt to their own needs of trying to understand the new paradigm. These are all qualities that, according to Owens in their report on dissemination, states are facilitators to effective dissemination strategies (Owens, 2001, pg. 2).
Books written on Hip-Hop culture, History, Dance, Art, and more are increasingly important in contributing to academic as well as public knowledge. Some important authors on Hip-Hop Culture are Michael Eric Dyson, Tricia Rose, Jeff Chang, and many more. Histories of Hip-Hop are being written—one of the most important written by the latter author on the list above. There are several readers out among them are The Hip- Hop Reader, and That's the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader. There is also at least
one book on the best articles in Hip-Hop Journalism called: And It Don't Stop
The Best American Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years Edited by Raquel Cepeda.
Papers are presented at conferences introducing new ideas to large audiences around the country. The audiences are often comprised of people from many different disciplines and contribute largely to dissemination of information to academia and the public.
Videos—Youtube is a great source of new information on Hip-Hop. You can see lectures, and interviews with intellectuals and academics discussing new knowledge on Hip-Hop. Films critiquing Hip-Hop culture such as Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes disseminate new knowledge about Hip-Hop to students and the general public. Apart from Youtube there is a plethora of videos Hip-Hop culture ranging from Dance to Freestyle.
Radio interviews Michael Eric Dyson does a plethora of interviews on the radio explaining the cultural importance of Hip-Hop, and imparts this knowledge as new information to his listeners. These interviews help communicate new knowledge to the general public.
Television segments and interviews play an important role in disseminating knowledge. Since Television has such a huge audience, it is an efficient method of dissemination. Michael Eric Dyson, again—is a tireless advocate of Hip-Hop culture. He often does television interviews in which he explains the importance of Hip-Hop and its impact on American culture.
Magazines articles and interviews are important as they spread new knowledge to the general public as well as throughout academic disciplines. Magazines such as Vibe, XXL, etc… There are tons of blogs and web sites disseminating new Hip-Hop knowledge among other things every minute of the day. Social Network communities also serve as agents of dissemination. Sites like Digg, Delicious, and Hip-Hop specific social communities spread information and new knowledge quickly and effectively. Scholarly journal articles serve as effective dissemination tools to other academics. These articles appear in many different disciplines from dance, to psychology.
Classification schemes perform a direct and critical function—they provide the basis for the physical arrangement of library materials (Rubin, 2004, p. 221). Not only is this true, but it they also provide a means of accessing information on the web as well. Information Science is no longer just concerned with the physical space of the library, but also with the virtual space.
Libraries usually classify knowledge by the Dewey Decimal System or the Library of Congress Classification System. 782.421649 is the call number for Hip-Hop culture in according to the Dewey Decimal Classification system. ML3531 is the call number for Hip-Hop culture in the Library of Congress classification system. Both these classification systems have Hip-Hop culture peppered throughout the other disciplines as Hip-Hop culture is fundamentally interdisciplinary. This brings about the need for new methods of classification that arise out the ability for users to tag their information.
It is readily apparent that these classification schemes need to be updated. Hip- Hop needs much broader categories of classification—I would also argue that the music sections in general should be updated frequently. Tagging on the Internet and in Library catalogs is a rapidly developing phenomenon. Perhaps a fusion of both metadata tags from users and one of the classification systems above would do better.
“Diffusion ifs the process by which innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among members of a social system. It is a special type of communication, in that the messages are concerned with new ideas (Rogers, 2003, p. 3)
Increasingly classes are taught on aspects of Hip-Hop culture. According to an News Release from UC Berkeley News the number of Hip-Hop scholars is growing, but the amount of classes taught across the disciplines is still far behind the need (Anwar,
2007). There are lesson plans based around Hip-Hop knowledge, and using Hip-Hop to teach other concepts. One example is the Flocabulary web site: http://www.flocabulary.com/teacher/research.html.
Seminars—there is a seminar at our school that is being hosted at the Women’s Resource Center. It will be based around a film called Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes. This film critiques Hip-Hop Culture through the lens of misogyny and critical media theory. After the film there will be a facilitated discussion. This discussion will lead to diffusion by creating understanding among many of the participants. There are many seminars similar to this creating diffusion of new Hip-Hop knowledge.
Eric Michael Dyson’s newest book on Hip-Hop, Know What I Mean? Is a great example of an academic who, through research has come to understand and create new knowledge on Hip-Hop. His book of interviews takes Hip-Hop concepts like Sampling, Remixing, the intro and outro seriously and incorporates them into his work. He thereby creates a new sub-genre of interview books (Dyson, 2007).
Authors and researchers write essays and articles for journals and magazines and create new knowledge on Hip-Hop at an increasing rate. I am currently writing an article on the similarities between Concepts in Hip-Hop and concepts of the new Information Paradigm that can be illustrated by many new so-called web 2.0 applications. These articles analyze, and explicate the relationships of Hip-Hop concepts to general developments in society. This new direction of rigorous analysis and questioning may lead to fields in several academic disciplines.
New knowledge in the areas of Hip-Hop Cultural studies and Hip-Hop studies in general is used in various contexts and new creations. This new knowledge can be used to interest children in music. It can be linked to such wide-ranging topics as information science and web design. The knowledge that Information Science and Hip-Hop have conceptual as well as nominal similarities can be pointed out by elucidating the concept of remixing and sampling in the context of the web 2.0 environment. The fact that remixing concepts in utilizations such as mashups and open source developments based on sampling others previous work and building on that are fine examples, analogies and sometimes metaphors for helping people from the fields of Hip-Hop and Information Science understand one another.
This new knowledge also creates new genres of American, as well as world Musical, Dance and Art history. New fields are arising in several disciplines surrounding the study of Hip-Hop culture. Another example that of utilization is that of the above mentioned web site flocabulary—its lesson plans which use Hip-Hop to teach are an example of the utilization of Hip-Hop knowledge.
The preservation of Hip-Hop knowledge is a concern primarily of academic libraries. The digitization of documents also makes it likely there will be copies of important documents stored around the world. There is also now an official Hip-Hop Archive: http://www.hiphoparchive.org/about/. With these organizations involved important Hip-Hop documents will survive.
There is a proliferation of Hip-Hop knowledge today. It will continue to grow as this cultural influence is recognized and analyzed.
Anwar, Yasmin, Hip-hop scholars push for recognition, UC Berkeley News Press Release, 09 January 2007 Retrieved 11/4/07 from: http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2007/01/09_hiphop.shtml
Chang, Jeff, Can't stop, won't stop: a history of the hip-hop generation Publisher
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