Posts Tagged ‘information practices’


Information activities in social media

5 May, 2015

Information seeking, sharing, and encountering are for many people activities that take place to a large extent via informal, mediated contacts. Not least, social media provide platforms both for sharing information about people’s lives and for keeping informed on issues related to business, politics and everyday life.

To grasp what information literacy means requires understanding the social situation in which information activities take place; to understand how to ask about or share information, what (or who) is considered to be a relevant and trustworthy source, and how to make use of information in fruitful ways. In social media environments, such understandings include sociotechnical knowledge, for instance knowing that in order to effectively share information from a conference using Twitter, you need to use not only a hashtag, but the same hashtag as everyone else. But it also requires learning what are acceptable topics to raise and views to hold in a community, such as a Facebook group or a discussion forum.

The sociomaterial performance of information activities in social media is being investigated in several past and ongoing projects in Sweden at the moment, partly within the Social Media Studies programme at the University of Borås. Already a few years ago, studies in the EXACT project of how credibility was assessed in relation to Wikipedia articles showed clearly the differences in cultural tools available to high school students and to active Wikipedia editors in making decisions about what editors and articles to trust. By being active in the Swedish Wikipedia community, editors had formed opinions about contributors and acceptable editing patterns that they could use in assessing credibility; tools that were not available to those who have not very actively engaged with the production of Wikipedia. [1]

Information exchange in social media sometimes concerns societal changes, such as climate change. These changes can have more or less direct implications for the people involved in the exchange. In a study of climate change blogs, a very active interaction between participants with more or less expertise on the subject was observed. Sources drawn on in the arguments included news media and social media, but also scientific articles. Quite a sophisticated critique of the peer review system took place. However, the ideologies which were constructed within the blog community strongly shaped and co-constructed which sources were viewed as credible and which arguments were considered to be valid. Thus, both political and scientific convictions did to some extent shape what were acceptable types of sources to endorse on the blog. [2]

In Ameera Mansour’s ongoing PhD project where she studies a closed Facebook group centred on motherhood, she has similarly noticed the importance of what Patrick Wilson termed intrinsic plausibility [3] in how some of the members talk about which information they take into consideration when making decisions for their families. In particular, a similar background and family situation is important when deciding whose advice to follow. Even though the group members may know very little about each other outside of the group, the mothers, just as the Wikipedia editors, form an opinion of the other active group members based on their activities in the group. They use that knowledge to inform how they use information they get through the group, but also which information they share in the group.

We, along with many others, continue to investigate the sociomaterial entanglements that make up information activities in social media. We are also interested in how people learn to become proficient participants in these activities. Using social media is quite rarely part of formal education, even at the more general level of understanding how platforms work. This may be useful both in using the platforms to communicate and to critically assess them. However, taking part in particular social interactions is something that must be learnt through participation (at least in the form of lurking). It is therefore important to study such situated interactions for understanding how information literacies are conceptualized in social media.

Helena Francke & Ameera Mansour, University of Borås


[1] Francke, H. & Sundin, O. (2010). An Inside View: Credibility in Wikipedia from the Perspective of Editors. Information Research 15.3, Special supplement: CoLIS, London 21-24 June, 2010.

[2] Francke, H. (2014). Dimensions of Credibility: Review as a Documentary Practice. Proceedings of the iConference, Berlin, 4-7 March 2014.

[3] Wilson, P. (1983). Second-hand Knowledge: An Inquiry into Cognitive Authority. Westport, CT & London: Greenwood Press.


New book available

9 June, 2010

A new and interesting book, edited by two of the network’s founding members, is now available, namely Practicing Information Literacy: Bringing Theories of Learning, Practice and Information Literacy Together, edited by Annemaree Lloyd and Sanna Talja. The book is described as follows:

Information literacy provides a central scaffold for participation and learning in all areas of work, education and everyday life. This book showcases new interdisciplinary academic research on the relationship between information literacy and learning. It combines findings with new understandings drawn from theoretical and empirical research conducted in primary and secondary schools, higher education, workplaces, and community contexts. The studies offer new insights into questions such as how transferable are the information practices and skills learned in one context to other contexts? What is the degree to which information competences are generic, to what degree are they domain and context specific? What are the kinds of challenges and outcomes that emerge from incorporating information literacy into education and training courses? And, most importantly, what kinds of theories and philosophies regarding the nature of learning, information, and knowledge, should information literacies education and research efforts be based on?

Update 2011-08-02: Orders for the book can be placed online through Woodhouse Publishing

See a description of the book at


PhD course on learning and information literacy

27 May, 2010

A PhD course is offered this fall by the LinCS-DSES doctoral school that will be of interest to researchers within information literacy. The course is called Learning, information and information literacy and is run by members of the iilresearch network, Olof Sundin and Sanna Talja. Invited guest scholar is Professor Chip Bruce, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.

The course is described as follows at the course page, which also includes more detailed information:

The ambition of this course is to present theories and research methods in the area of information science and information literacy relating to information seeking and learning. The consequences of the new systems for accessing information for learning environments as well as for the expectations of the information literacy of populations will be central.

The course starts on 18 October 2010 and will have two meetings, one in Gothenburg and one in Borås. A course plan and list of literature is available at


Cecilia Gärdén’s viva

17 March, 2010

On Friday 19 March 2010, Cecilia Gärdén will be defending her doctoral dissertation Verktyg för lärande: Informationssökning och informationsanvändning i kommunal vuxenutbildning (Tools for Learning: Information Seeking and Use in Municipal Adult Education) at hörsalen Sappören, Sprängkullsgatan 25, University of Gothenburg. The public is welcome to  the viva.

Extract from the abstract:

The thesis aims to deepen our knowledge of information practices in municipal adult education by exploring the information seeking and information use associated with a specific school assignment. […] From a socio-cultural perspective, the thesis explores 1) how adult students, teachers and librarians interact in information seeking and use in the practice of working with a complex school assignment, 2) what tools and scaffolds are used, and why, 3) how information is used by adult students to construct knowledge and make sense, and 4) what elements of information literacy emerge in the interaction around the assignment.