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Words to Live By: How Experience Shapes Our Information World at Work, Play and in Everyday Life



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Brief Abstract:

Using semi-structured interviews and participatory visual methods (salvage, photovoice, and documentary photography), I explore experiences living, working, and playing in a rural and remote Ontario village to determine how they become an information source. Results indicate a wealth of information behaviours worthy of study, including information behaviours that cross boundaries between work, play and everyday life. This type of information behaviour has not yet been examined to any great extent in LIS literature.



This study extends our understanding of information behaviours in informal, non-formal and leisure contexts. It also explores information behaviours among a previously unstudied population. Preliminary findings from this dissertation received the Best Student Paper award at the 2012 Canadian Association of Information Science conference. Subsets of the data have been presented at (inter)national conferences, including ALISE and the iConference. Plans are in progress to disseminate the findings to a number of academic and lay audiences and in several formats, including further publication in LIS literature, Leisure Studies conferences, a visual presentation to the rural community that shared the data, and a book that will add to the collection describing the human history of Algonquin Park and area.


Excerpts from External Examiner’s Review:

"Angela has taken exceptional care in envisioning, organizing, and writing this thesis. More than a simple summation, it is a sweeping story of a community, anchored in many strong social scientific insights. Variously, the writing is precise, bold, critical, probing, nuanced, thoughtful, funny and exuberant... Geography, transportation, economic hardship, and religion are made real through striking photographs and/or original documents."


"This is an important and ground-breaking research project and thesis in the specialty of information behaviour and the field of information studies. It focuses attention on information phenomena within a rural population, a domain that has never been studied in-depth before...Specifically, to my knowledge it is the first to: use a community as the unit of analysis (most studies focus on disciplines, professions, or social worlds, or activities); simultaneously examine information phenomena across work, leisure, and everyday life (a considerably more complex perspective); adopt a folkloric sensibility (rich with social, cultural, and historical detail); and examine and establish the nature of information experience (a crucial, neglected, elusive information phenomena)."


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