Professor Ina Fourie, Head of Department of Information Science, presented the keynote address at the ASIS&T 24-Hour Global Conference 2022.
The 24-Hour Global Conference is a new conference that provides a platform for professional learning for all individuals and organisations internationally. The theme of the conference was Networking, Sharing, and Learning: Challenges and Opportunities. The conference aimed to promote networking among individuals, organisations and institutions. The conference was a fully online conference available to ASIS&T members and non-members.
Professor Fourie’s keynote address was titled Information behaviour as research lens for life – our challenges, joys, and opportunities. The abstract reads as follows:
On a daily basis in all contexts of life, at different points of time, all people experience varying levels of challenges, joys and opportunities. Experiences of any one of these do not mean that another emotion and experience may not be felt at the same time: sadness, success and failure related to something else. Often, experiences overlap and intermingle in one day. Often, people face deep uncertainty and anxiety. Information-related experiences in contemporary society seem more intense, more driven, more complex and intermingled. Pressure to make sense, to cope, to meet with the expectations of peers and society and to avoid negative experiences such as fraud, cybercrime and being a victim of misinformation, are more prominent and urgent. Intensities of experiences and needs for information as well as the need to share and disseminate information can be both very intense and very low-key, depending on the context, situation, task(s) and responsibilities. Although social networking and rapidly evolving technology may offer support, these can also add challenges with specific regard to exclusion and increasing the divide in society. There are numerous opportunities for deeper immersion in human experiences, e.g. through immersive technologies, reality shows, and social media video streaming. Work-life, studies and everyday life do not take place in separate niches. In such contexts, information behaviour, a sub-discipline of Information Science and field of study, can offer a lens for life not only for researchers, but also for individuals. How do we understand information behaviour from fast-changing, entwined and immersive perspectives? How can researchers change their way of thinking about information behaviour research and how can individuals prepare for uncertain futures? How can individuals comprehend their needs and experiences? The presentation will briefly explain how individuals can be sensitised to a conglomeration of information activities that manifests in their daily experiences of challenges, joys and opportunities. These activities include information foraging, information sharing, information encountering, information processing, information seeking, information avoidance, information use, and identifying and expressing needs for information. To these can be added social networking and crowdsourcing. There are more. How do individuals then make sense of their experiences and cope? What can information behaviour researchers offer and how can information behaviour (in combination with information and digital literacy) be presented to individuals – all people – ordinary and professional people – as a lens on life? The presentation will use fast-paced immersive lived experience to highlight core issues that might be considered in an entwined entanglement of daily experiences involving intended, explicit as well as unintended information behaviour. In conclusion suggestions will be offered to extend the arguments to information behaviour research foci and intervention research.