Tuesday, June 23, 2009

i3 reports: emergent themes

This is another report from the i3 conference taking place in Aberdeen, Scotland at Robert Gordon University (the atrium is pictured here). I am just in a session in which chairs of previous sessions are drawing out some cross cutting themes. Dorothy Williams (the conference chair) was taking lots of notes, and if these get published they will be a fuller record than mine! So here are the themes.
Interdisciplinarity: this had emerged, for example, in terms of using methods, discoveries from other disciplines. One person talked about how she had worked with a group of people from different disciplines and the slow, but ultimately fruitful, process of getting to know each other and engage with the different conceptions, terminologies etc. There are different perspectives on this: people from different disciplines working together e.g. on a project, bringing their different perspectives, or people who have "grown up" multi- (or trans-)disciplinar, who may also be valuable in making connections between disciplines. I would observe that information science may have an advantage in being a social science.
Importance of context: need to understand the context in which information is used: personal, organisational and cultural contexts. This seems a bit of a no-brainer to me, as I feel it has got to the point where the importance of context, both in terms of information behaviour and in terms of pedagogy, has got to be acknowledged. However (when I said this) the point may be (essentially) "so what?": what can you learn and apply? (linking theory and practice - without falling into the trap of generalising into a meaningless rule or recipe).
Role of medical librarians, in being both involved in developing information services that are guided by the clinicians view of medicine, and having a role in supporting patients who need a different perspective on information (e.g. thinking of the needs of people who are receiving palliative care and who don't just want to look back at the causes of and prognosis for their illness). This can bring in a political as awell as an ethical dimension.
Serendipity: I was talking to Abigail McBirnie about this at the break, as she had presented a paper about her study of serendipity. I am very interested in information encountering, so we were talking about the differences between the two things. I found this article by her: McBirnie, A. (2008) "Seeking serendipity: the paradox of control." Aslib proceedings, 60 (6), 600-618.
Teachers' perceptions of information literacy: I already blogged about this, so won't say much more. James Herring (who was introducing this theme) had also given a paper this morning about the issue of transfer of learning, attitudes etc. This led to a discussion about engaging teachers in understanding information literacy: including teachers investigating it for themselves, IL coming into teacher education.
Information behaviours of information providers: how they operate with information, how they add value, and whether they understand the impact of what they do?

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