News ( updated January 6, 2021)
congratulations, Hugh Samson!
Last Class of INF1323: The Information Experience
Sig-use symposium at the ASIS&T 2020 Annual Meeting
I was a panelist at the SIG-USE annual (virtual) symposium, held on Saturday, October 24th, 1:00-4:00 Eastern Time. The theme was a good one: "Grand Challenges in Information Behaviour Research ~ Theory." The four-hour event began with the panel and also includes presentations of papers and posters, as well as a mini-workshop for people writing papers for a JASIS&T Special Issue on the same topic.
Fall 2020 (online) Teaching: INF1323 - The Information Experience
Fall 2020 I am excited to be teaching three online, synchronous sections of INF1323: The Information Experience. As described in the syllabus:
research talk at san jose state university (online)
DOCAM 2020 (Annual meeting of the document academy)
Congratulations to Dr. Brian Griffin!
Panel at ALISE 2020: Introducing the Tree of Contemplative Practices
In October, 2020, at the virtual annual meeting of the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE), I participated in the panel, "Introducing the Tree of Contemplative Practices." Contributors were Kiersten F. Latham (Michigan State University), Beck Tench (University of Washington), and Hugh Samson (University of Toronto).
Congratulations to Dr. Rebecca Noone!
On Friday, June 19th, 2020, Rebecca Noone passed the final oral examination of her doctoral studies at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. Her thesis From Here To: Everyday Wayfinding in the Age of Digital Maps was unanimously accepted, and marked the first Zoom doctoral defense at the Faculty of Information.
We were honored to have cultural geographer Professor Gillian Rose of Oxford University as the external appraiser; Professor Leslie Shade as the internal reader from the Faculty of Information; and Drs. Matthew Brower and Irina Mihalache as steadfast committee members across the project. For my part, it has been incredible to supervise Rebecca, who I consider our Faculty's first 'information artist.' She has been my collaborator on the iSquare Research Program, a fantastic Teaching Assistant in my courses, and a constant source of joy. You can learn more about Dr. Noone at her website.
Panel at ASIS&T 2020: Towards an Integrated Information Science
Towards an Integrated Information Science
ABSTRACT. More than ever, Information Science needs a coherent, powerful, integrated vision of itself and the value proposition it delivers in this Information Age. Complex and multifaceted uncertainties like pandemics and climate change do not yield to narrow or piecemeal solutions. Holistic visions of Information Science existed at our field’s formation a century ago, but sadly over the years have become increasingly fragmented and specialized. This 90-minute panel invites participants in the ASIS&T 2020 Annual Meeting to reconsider the benefits of holism and creates a stage to re-imagine a big and integrated Information Science. To that end, we will first adopt Bates’ (2002) conception of seven interpenetrating “Layers of Understanding.” Then, information scientists with expertise in one of the seven layers will speak about the information phenomena at their level. Having the full range of strata illuminated, Dr. Marcia J. Bates will share her sage reflections. Ample time will remain for the audience to tinker with, extend, challenge, or celebrate the idea of a wide-ranging, integrated Information Science.
Workshop at ASIS&T 2020: Writing-up Research as Thematic Narrative
Writing-up Research as a Thematic Narrative
ABSTRACT. There is a shortage of guidance and acumen in information science when it comes to writing-up qualitative research. This 4-hour Workshop at the 83rd ASIS&T Annual Meeting will present an effective strategy for reporting such findings. Participants will be taught to write a thematic narrative: a gradually unfolding descriptive account that relates vivid pieces of field data to relevant concepts in the scholarly literature. To that end, attendees will learn to create excerpt-commentary units: rhetorical structures that contain four distinct and purposeful elements. The Workshop will be production-oriented and attendees should ideally bring a data set ready to write-up. This session suits doctoral students with research underway, experienced social scientists who wish to fortify their writing, and those who supervise or edit qualitative research. The instructor, Dr. Jenna Hartel, has won the Library Journal/ALISE Excellence in Teaching Award (2016) and she has taught this method to more than 200 masters and doctoral students at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto.
In early April of 2020, Sam Rowlandson-O'Hara successfully defended her master's thesis, From Forests to Formulas: Contextual Examination of Composers’ Sources, Materials, and Practices Involving Creative Insight. This exploratory research project utilized a survey and semi-structured interviews with classical music composers, as well as photographs of their document collections, to illuminate the emergence of creative insights when composing. The study expands our rational and narrow conception of information behaviour within an artistic domain, and is innovative for its mention of hallucinogens as information resources. Sam's project is also exceptional as our Faculty's first final oral examination to occur within the social distancing requirements of the pandemic, and Sam delivered an incredible virtual defense of her ideas. Dr. Cristos Hatzis of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music (thesis committee member) and Ms. Sarah Polkinghorne (external examiner) also contributed to the project. Sam graduated during late spring 2020 and will bring her great enthusiasm for information phenomena to the workplace, and potentially continue her research into this topic. Congratulations, Sam!
Student Haiku Wanted on "The Joy of Information"
A special issue of Library Trends on "The Joy of Information" is in development; see the Call for Papers for a scope statement and submission details.
Students of Library and Information Science at all levels are invited to contribute haiku on the same theme (information and joy), for publication in a curated collection of the special issue. We are excited to showcase the considerable creativity and vision of the students in this field. Haiku is a form of short poetry that originates in Japan. When written in English, a haiku is an unrhymed, 3 line poem, where the syllables in each line are 5, 7, 5, respectively. Traditional haiku contain references to nature or the seasons, but we are interested in poems on the subject of information and joy (although references to nature are still welcome, where relevant). Whatever its subject, a haiku is made both by its structure and by its spirit; these poems are valued for their sparseness, and a good haiku balances simplicity with depth, in order to evoke emotion. Additional guidelines:
Special issue of Library Trends: "The Joy of Information"
I am excited to be the guest co-editor of a special issue of Library Trends on the theme, "The Joy of Information." My collaborator on this project is Ms. Hailey Siracky, the Director of Library Services at St. Joseph’s College, University of Alberta. We are accepting complete manuscripts until August 1, 2020. See the full Call for Papers, which describes the theme and some points of departure for the topic.
Ontario Library Association 2020 Super Conference
Turn, Turn, Turn Video
New Course: The Joy of Information
During Fall semester of 2019, I offered a new course, The Joy of Information. It introduced students to a positive Information Science by focusing upon information in contexts that are perceived as joyful, sublime, upbeat, creative, interesting, pleasurable, and fun. In doing so, it intentionally placed aside information experiences associated with negative or quotidian states such as work, problems, pain, conflict, boredom, everyday routines, and unconsciousness. Participants explored the idea that positive information phenomena have distinct qualities and are important to what Plato called eudaimonia—a flourishing life. Practically speaking, enrollees discovered how information institutions and their stakeholders may mediate and champion a positive approach to their information resources, systems, and services.
The first offering of the course during Fall 2019 was centered upon leisure, an information-rich, heterogeneous, and joyful domain. To that end, a theoretical framework of leisure, the Serious Leisure Perspective (SLP) (Stebbins, 2001) was used to systematically analyze leisure and its information phenomena. Over the course of the semester, casual leisure, serious leisure (including hobbies), project-based leisure, and devotee work (paid work that feels like leisure), were examined for their informational patterns and distinctions. Though the SLP organized our approach to leisure, students were encouraged to challenge and critique its authoritative stance, especially concerning its cultural range and the treatment of leisure that is centered upon multimedia and online experience.
A variety of unconventional assignments fortified understanding of the topic. For starters, students used the SLP to map their own leisure pursuits; subsequently, they conducted an original visual research project to document positive information phenomena within their own leisure-related information collections. Then, embracing a broader vista, the class worked together to analyze informational patterns within popular culture and media via a content analysis of the hit sitcom about metal detecting, Detectorists.
New Course: Information & Contemplation
The Red Thread of Information
ASIS&T Lecture Series Award
Thank you, ASIS&T, for granting me the 2017/18 ASIS&T Lecture Series Award. Through this award I travelled to the School of Information Management (SIM) at Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU) in Guangdong, China, from June 3-14, 2018. My goal was to initiate a more culturally and geographically expansive vision of information science that integrates North American and Chinese perspectives. The visit had three elements that culminate in the keynote ASIS&T Lecture. First, supervised an arts-informed research project at SIM to capture visual conceptions of “information.” Second, I lead a workshop with SIM students and faculty to analyze the images, thereby creating a bilateral exchange about the nature of information. Third, I delivered the ASIS&T Lecture, entitled The Red Thread of Information. Altogether, these happenings celebrated information and information science from Chinese and North American standpoints; introduced new, creative research methods to the SIM community; and showcased ASIS&T’s contribution to scholarly cooperation worldwide. The abstracts for my two presentations are below. I wish to recognize my host and collaborator for this project, Dean Miguel Nuñez and to thank SIM and SYSU for supporting the visit.
iConference 2018, University of Sheffield
ALISE Webinar: 10 Ideas for Innovative Teaching
On Friday, September 29, 2017 (at 2:00 Eastern Time), I presented a webinar for ALISE (Association for Library and Information Science Education). In the webinar I discussed 10 Ideas for Innovative Teaching. Mindfulness meditation, souvenirs, iSquares, and "creative deliverables" were just a few of the pedagogical surprises offered. Each idea was presented with an eye to turnkey implementation, so that other educators can adopt and implement one or more of the strategies right away. Real student feedback drawn from course evaluations supplied a student perspective, when available. Time was reserved at the end of the webinar to entertain additional ideas for innovative teaching, sourced from the audience.
Congratulations to Dr. Eva Jansen Hourihan
Congratulations to Jess Whyte!
Social Epistemology as Theoretical Foundation...
Diversity by Design
In September, 2017 I participated in two sessions of the Diversity by Design Symposium at the University of Toronto. A workshop, "The Information Horizon Interview," was hosted by students from the Winter 2017 offering of INF2332: Information Behaviour, namely: Daisy Dowdall, Glyneva Bradley Rideout, Ken Konkatong, Elisabeth Saunders, Maria Ruiz, Marie Tossios, and Martin Chandler (see photo, below).
Archival Education and Research Initiative
CAIS Annual Meeting, June, 2017
In June, 2017 I participated in a panel, entitled, Marcia J. Bates: Past--> Present-->Future at the Canadian Association for Information Science (CAIS) annual meeting in Toronto, Canada. The panel session explored, critiqued, and celebrated the work of canonical information scientist, Marcia J. Bates. To begin, I surveyed her oeuvre. Then, five graduate students from the Faculty of Information (pictured above: Rachel Lee, Erica Friesen, Yuxi Ren, Dr. Bates, Daina Cers, Jenna Hartel, and Anh Thu Nguyen) reported on their semester-long explorations of a singular concept by Bates. Each student’s talk featured a summary and critical examination of a seminal idea by Bates in its original historical context. Then, the same concept was considered in the light of this Information Age. Following each talk, Marcia J. Bates shared her reflections. Ample time was provided for discussion among Dr. Bates, the panelists, and attendees.
Summer Teaching, 2017
During summer semester, 2017, I taught INF2330: Information Ethnography. The course followed an intensive, 6-week format (Monday & Wednesday, 4:00-6:00; May 1 - June 12).
Jackman Scholars-in-Residence Program @ Victoria College
Reading Course on Marcia J. Bates
During Winter semester of 2017, I offered a Reading Course on the work of information scientist, Marcia J. Bates. Here's the Reading Guide.
Special issue of Library Trends: "Information and the Body"
With Andrew Cox (Sheffield, UK) and Brian Griffin (Toronto), I co-edited a special double issue of Library Trends on "Information and the Body."
INF1300: Foundations of LIS - In Our Time assignment
During the fall semester of 2016, students in the course INF1300: Foundations of Library and Information Science, participated in a novel multimedia assignment. Learn more...
The Gingerbread House of Information
KNOWeSCAPE Conference, February 2017
I was a keynote speaker at the KNOWeSCAPE Conference in Sofia, Bulgaria, February 22-24, 2017. The KNOWeSCAPE initiative is funded by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) and entails four working groups whose main objective is to "advance the analysis of large knowledge spaces and systems that organize and order them."
Library Journal/ALISE Excellence in Teaching Award
Thank you, Library Journal and ALISE, for granting me the 2016 Excellence in Teaching Award. I promise to return this honor by many more years of dedication to the academic discipline of library and information science and the profession of librarianship. This is also an important moment to recognize all my amazing teachers: Marcia Bates, Mary Niles Maack, Christine Borgman, Jonathan Furner, Greg Leazer, Leah Lievrouw, Sanna Talja, Reijo Savolainen, Birger Hjorland, Steve Fuller, David Jenkins, and many others. Thanks also to my colleagues who assembled the nomination, especially Aleatha Cox and Dean Wendy Duff. Finally, this award is a result of the boundless creativity, intelligence, and goodwill of students at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, who are truly a joy to teach.
ALISE Conference, January 2017
ASIS&T Annual Meeting
In August, 2016, I attended Diagrams, an international interdisciplinary conference series, covering all aspects of research on the theory and application of diagrams. At Diagrams, I presented a tutorial, "Visualizing Information" with iSchool student Rebecca Noone. An abstract for the tutorial is below.
Visualizing Information (Sunday, August 7, 2017, 4:00-5:30 p.m.)
This tutorial introduces the Diagrams community to arts-informed visual research, using the draw-and-write technique as an example. It does so in the context of the iSquare Research Program (www.iSquares.info), an ongoing effort to understand and document “information” as a visual phenomenon. The 90-minute session will begin with a demonstration and description of the draw-and-write technique as it is employed in the iSquare project. Then, a sample of drawings of information will be displayed and analytical attention will be placed upon link diagrams, grouping diagrams, and pictorial metaphors for information. The audience will be engaged in a game that will help them understand the distinctions between these major forms of graphic representations. Next, the iSquare team’s artist-in-residence will locate the iSquares in a genealogy of contemporary art’s themes and practices and demonstrate how the images can be used in art exhibitions and interactive story-telling. To conclude, the pedagogical applications of the draw-and-write technique and the iSquare protocol will be discussed from the point-of-view of an instructor and graduate student. The event includes several hands-on activities, interdisciplinary perspectives from three fields (information science, visual studies, and education) and a collaborative spirit. Participants will be encouraged to apply arts-informed visual methods and the draw-and-write technique to their own research questions, and they will leave the tutorial with a fresh sense of information as a visual phenomenon that can be better understood through diagrams. An interactive art exhibition of a portion of the iSquare corpus can also accompany the tutorial and remain on display for the duration of the Diagrams conference.
Summer Reading Course: The Serious Leisure Perspective
During summer 2016 I offered a reading course on the Serious Leisure Perspective (SLP). As a reading course the primary activity was independent student reading and reflection. The course was supplemented with a peer discussion group; online searching and literature reviews on an SLP-related topic of personal interest; and a written final paper or creative deliverable in another format. The schedule for the semester loosely followed the intellectual history of the SLP. Assigned readings favored original publications by Stebbins; later synthesis and alternative perspectives were provided for contrast.
Visual Research Project: Information/Internet/Librarian
Invited Lecture: "Pictorial Metaphors for INformation"
On Tuesday, April 26 (3:00-4:00), 2016 I delivered an invited lecture at the Department of Library and Information Studies at the University of Buffalo. My presentation was entitled "Pictorial Metaphors for Information" and was based on iSquare research I conducted with Dr. Reijo Savolainen; an abstract is below.
Pictorial Metaphors for Information
The iSquare Research Program is an arts-informed, visual study in which people answer the question “What is information?” in the form of a compact line drawing, coined an “iSquare." Since 2011, more than 2,000 iSquares have been collected from diverse academic disciplines and from around the world. In this presentation, Dr. Jenna Hartel will provide an overview of the iSquare project and report recent insights into the pictorial metaphors associated with information. Eight common pictorial metaphors for information that appear in the iSquare corpus—earth, web, tree, light bulb, box, cloud, fishing/mining, and eye—will be displayed and explicated imaginatively. The talk will also address the potentials of arts-informed, visual research for social scientific inquiry and will note implications of graphical elicitation techniques for research, education, and practice in information studies and beyond.
In March, 2016 I attended the iConference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. I ran the workshop "Analyzing Visual Data" with iSchool doctoral student Rebecca Noone and contributed to the workshop "Mapping the Positive Turn" with my collaborators Andrew Cox, Brian Griffin, and Robert A. Stebbins. Both abstracts are below.
Analyzing Visual Data (Sunday, March 20, 8:30 a.m. to 12:00)
Visual research methods are hot across academe and starting to penetrate the iSchool community. In any visual research design, data collection is relatively easy compared to the more complicated task of analysis. Therefore, this half-day Workshop focuses critical attention on visual data analysis. The session is intended for three audiences: 1.) those who wish to be guided in advance through their own original visual research project that is analyzed at the Workshop; 2.) scholars who already have a visual data set that has yet to be analyzed; and 3.) people with a general interest in visual research methods. These three groups will convene at the iConference in Philadelphia to learn and practice five visual analysis techniques, namely: compositional interpretation, content analysis, thematic analysis, pictorial metaphor analysis, and conceptual analysis. The session will be run by Jenna Hartel, an early adopter of visual methods in information studies, creator of the iSquare Research Program, and a specialist on visual data analysis. The event concludes with recommendations from an artist on ways to disseminate the results of visual research via traditional and non-traditional formats and channels. In a collaborative environment, all participants will be able to voice questions and concerns about the visual analysis process and advance their own visual research projects; further, the get-together will seed a community of interest for the future.
Mapping the Positive Turn (Sunday, March 20, 1:30 to 5:00)
This half-day workshop will bring together scholars, practitioners, and students from across the iSchool community to discuss current research around “positive” information phenomena, that is, nonproblematical perspectives on the information experience. The session will explore a range of positive concepts recently emerged in information science, such as: well-being, happiness, leisure and positive computing. Throughout the session, our conversation will move between information science to specialties such as positive psychology, positive sociology, and the sociology of happiness; we will clarify terms, concepts and themes and ultimately generate an interdisciplinary map of positive scholarship. Participants will share their own thinking and research on these topics, map current and future research trajectories, and produce a foundation for future collaboration. In keeping with a spirit of interdisciplinarity, the event will feature a keynote by the architect of positive sociology, sociologist and leisure scholar Dr. Robert A. Stebbins.
The "Box of Crayons"
ASIS&T Annual Meeting
In early November 2015 I attended the ASIS&T Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. For this conference I organized a panel session about the International iSquare research project; the panel was entitled "Visualizing Information Worldwide" and details appear below. An exciting feature of this event was the participation of iSquare team members Rebecca Noone, Stephanie Power, Pavel Danzanov and Bridgette Kelly, all from the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto.
Visualizing Information Worldwide
Twelve scholars based at information programs worldwide have recently participated in research that asks: How is the concept of information visualized in my community and beyond? The study employed an arts-informed, visual methodology and the draw-and-write technique to stimulate local and global conversations about the pictorial nature of information in society. The work has generated new insights into information as a visual phenomenon and generated an archive of “iSquare” images to be used for information research, education, and practice. As a contribution to the conference theme of “Impact on Society,” this panel introduces the project, describes its technical infrastructure, highlights emerging social scientific and artistic outcomes, and reports cross-cultural discoveries. The multimedia and interactive session will include in-person presentations, short videos from collaborators overseas, an expert discussant, dialogue with the audience, and an art exhibition.
International Visual Methods Conference
June 23-25, 2015 I participated in the i3 Conference (Information: Interactions and Impact) at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland. There, I presented a paper co-authored with Reijo Savolainen (University of Tampere, Finland), entitled "Pictorial Metaphors for Information." Our paper discussed eight common pictorial metaphors that appear in iSquare drawings of information; the manuscript is published in the Journal of Documentation.
Invited Lecture, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
Visiting Fellowship at Curtin University
World information Architecture Day Keynote Address
Visit to the Information School, University of Sheffield
Information Seeking in Context (ISIC)
In early September 2014 I attended the Information Seeking in Context conference (ISIC) at Leeds University, England. ISIC is my favorite academic conference! At ISIC I participated in the Doctoral Workshop as a research mentor. I also presented the paper "Information Behaviour Illustrated" that examines iSquares for insights into information behaviour. Finally, I hosted the panel "State of play: Information phenomena in a leisure context" with Ian Ruthven, Max L. Wilson, and Christopher J. Young. The proceedings from ISIC will be published in fall 2014 in in online journal, Information Research.
The iSchool Video Contest Winner: Hailey Siracky ("Sky")
On Friday, February 7, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. I presented a webinar entitled "iSquares: A New Approach to Research and Education in Information Science." The event is sponsored by ASIS&T's SIG-USE and SIG-HFIS.