Jul 07 2009
Information: interactions and impact – i3 Conference
This is the second year for the i3 conference the first was held in 2007 (it is held every two years). I found the first conference very stimulating and was pleased to attend once more as it certainly does what it says
i3 brings together researchers and practitioners interested in exploring such interconnections between information behaviour, information literacy and impact of information. The conference will provide a forum for exchange of research findings and an opportunity to identify key questions and issues for future research. It should be relevant to those involved in researching, developing or delivering information and knowledge services in any sector as well as those concerned with the development of skills for a knowledge society.
It was a packed programme over four days with four keynote speakers and about 30 plus sessions (long and short papers). Unfortunately several people had to pull out including Annemaree Llyod who is doing some amazing work in the workplace (IL and fire fighters and ambulance workers) and our workplace partners Jenny and Lesley from the Scottish Government. However I did manage to catch up with several acquaintances: Audrey Marshall (University of Brighton); Hazel Hall (Edinburgh Napier College); James Herring (Charles Sturt University, Australia); Eeor Sormunsen (University of Tampere, Finland); Sheila Webber (University of Sheffield); Debbie Bowden (University of Worcester); Ruth Stubbings (Loughborough University); Lynsey Paterson (Young Scot); Catherine Kearney (SLIC/CILIPS) and made lots of new ones which is always nice.
As all students and conference delegates know an hour is a long time to keep still and listen to one person however most of the keynote speakers did keep delegates engaged (most of the time) despite over running by as much as 30 minutes (Dave Snowden) which was taking a liberty and not fair on those people like Audrey Marshall and others who were presenting in the next sessions and waiting for delegates to turn up to their session this in turn had a knock on effect and reduced people’s time to talk after / eat lunch. Here’s a quick synopsis from my notes of each of the key note speeches:
Dr Chun Wei Choo – Knowing and learning in organizations: Information and the enactment of meaning, knowledge and decisions.
Organisations use information in:
- sense making – enactment (bracket / select raw data in small pieces to help people make sense of the data), selection (enactment with interpretation that worked before), retention (enacted interpretation retained for future use). Beliefs play a major role in this activity.
- knowledge creation – tacit knowledge (personal - gained through apprentiships / on job training, capacity to work on hard problems); explicit knowledge (object or rule based); cultural (shared assumptions and beliefs that shape an organisations identity. Need to articulate tacit knowledge otherwise it remains personal.
- decision making – most organisations work through some or most of the following models: rational model (e.g. hiring), process model (e.g. new product development), political model(e.g. public, policy decisions), anarchy model.
and how an organisation works depends on the interplay between these processes. He then went on to talk about a real situation – the Challenger Space Flight which launched losing all on board despite lengthy discussions and engineers concerns based on tacit knowledge which they didn’t have time in which to back up with evidence. A key issue was that NASA works in an environment of risk and thought that the decision they took did not fall outside the organisations’s cultural knowledge.
I could relate to a lot of that as I’ve been in simialr situations in the past thought not life threatening.
Dave Snowden- Complexitity, coherence, constraint, cognition and context (podcast and presentation link)
There was a lot covered in this keynote and Shelia Webber’s blog posting gives a good flavout of what it covered much more than I could. Ironically one of the themes was about sense making and whilst I did make sense of some of what he said I didn’t take many notes as there was a lot to make sense of and some of it was complex. The main things I noted was about:
- three types of systems: Ordered – system constrains agenda; Chaotic – agents unconstrained and independent; Complex – system lightly constrains agents, agents modify systems, they co-evolve. The examples he used included teenage children’s party, they are going to do certain things even although you say no however their needs to be some ground rules and some flexibility. He also showed a picture of a roundabout which had five smaller roundabouts on the edge of the main roundabout. First impression was what a nightmare but he said it worked and the more I thought about it I could see the logic behind it. I also think the three system could be related to leadership / management styles.
- The Cynefin Framework which he developed - ” a model used to describe problems, situations and systems.” When I have some time I’d like to have a closer look at this.
- Caucasians scan 5% then compare with paterns in their memory – we are pattern recognition agents. this is based on genetics, experience and narrative. This probably explains why I only took a few notes.
- Tolerance failure improves learning – reference was made to not using good practice to improve learning as you learn more from failure. Whilst this may be true I still think it is useful to have examples of good practice so that you can see what can be achieved. I’ve often seen things that I thought were a good idea which has inspired me to do some thing.
Dr Louise Limberg – Information Literacies beyond the rhetoric: developing research and practice between the intersection of information seeking and learning
Sheila Webber has reported extensively about this keynote in her blog plosting so I’ll just highlight a couple of things I jotted down: learning in different arenas; digital competency – 1 of 8 EU essential skills; in school the information = answers; critical assessment of information is the core aspect of information literacy; physical and intellectual tools mediate views.
Dr Kendra Albright – Multidisciplinarity in Information behaviour: Expanding Boundaries or Fragmentation of the Field?
It’s not easy being the last keynote of a four day conference, listening to everyone else then updating your presentation to incorporate things you had heard in other keynotes and sessions. However the presenter posed some “Big Questions” which she has started to think about and would be keen to work with others on:
- Does LIS research help to answer the big or important information question of our time? What are they?
- By what criteria might we measure the value of our work? Does it advance theory?
- Does our work lead to a better, deeper understanding of human behaviour? (This crosses many science fields.)
Points I noted from her presentation include:
- multidisciplinarity in LIS – I think this is a good thing in any profession as it brings different perspectives and skills from other professional disciplines but then I would say that as this includes me in that category.
- little focus on information use
- haven’t looked at social content
- less work on areas of Social Context and Power Relations
In relation to some of the above she talked about Information Use in Domestic Abuse situations and how one women who had experienced domestic abuse talked about needing information (legal and physical protection) to survive and that it was a coping strategy, by seeking information she was doing something and this kept her going. It is in situations like this that you can see how important information is – potentially a life and death situation.
Other points in relation to information use where:
- we seek the information we believe to be right
- most decisions are made on emotions but reason helps to balance emotion (this occurs at the same time).
- emotional information is often better remembered than neutral information.
The key notes left me with much to think about / get my head round and many resonated with the sessions (which I will blog about later) and vice-a-versa.
For some of the conference photos taken by Kornelia Sliwinska one of the student conference helpers see http://www.facebook.com/photo_search.php?oid=43169634350&view=all