Thursday, September 27, 2018

Researching information in everyday life: the contribution of autoethnography and information grounds #ecil2018

I (Pam) am live-blogging  Sheila’s presentation on ethnography and Information grounds. Information grounds theory has been used to study a huge variety of situations where people gather to share information. Sheila spoke about the use of a combination of ethnography and information grounds in the context of the independence referendum in Scotland in 2014. There was a substantial majority vite for “no”, and the turnout was very high. Bill Johnston undertook an autoethnography of his own information experiences as an engaged citizen, where he is an “insider”. Sheila took a role as an “informed outsider”  as she lived in Scotland for many years. Bill memoed his experiences, and supported this memoing activities with videos and documents found, and an autoethnographic vignette, and discussions between Bill and Sheila. The Glad Cafe in Glasgow was identified as an information ground, and Sheila played a short audio clip of Bill reflecting on what happened on the voting day in the Glad Cafe. The information grounds theory were used to discuss the role of the Glad Cafe, which is a cafe open to the general public, but also as a space for political meetings and the exchange of physical and verbal information. In the autoethnogpraphy the role of the Cafe was examined,  but the information ground theory allowed for more detailed examination of the Cafe as a space.

Sheila then introduced her own autoethnography in the 3D world “second life” where she explored her practice of co-leading a discussion group, the virtual worlds educators round table, and contrasting it with her experiences as an educator in the physical world. Sheila has a huge amount of data including records of her actions and interactions, blog posts, videos and academic material created by and about her. One week the topic for discussion in the educators round table was “information grounds”, and Sheila showed a range of the evidence collected which included chatlogs, and pictures etc. The topic is a jumping off point for stories of past educational experiences, positioning statements etc. Information sharing happened through text chat, private instant message, visual information, notecards and information embedded in the people and the landscape. It’s an open ground, anyone can attend, but closed in that one needs an excellent computer, also there are norms and etiquettes to do with second life itself. People were reflective about their preferences for exchanging in the world. Auto ethnography allows Sheila to focus on her own practice and feelings, and information grounds helps her explore place space and information and insider/outsider status.

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