Sunday, October 24, 2004

Some thoughts on future directions...

My comps are about to start. In 10 hours I'll have the questions and the rest of the week will be spent in a fog of writing about stuff which I no longer care about. Let's hope that my indifference is the result of internalization rather than ignorance!

I do, however, have a few ideas for my post-comps life i.e., my dissertation.

Here's my basic idea:

PROBLEM- the field of information behaviour is highly varied. There is a whole pile of research conducted using a variety of theories and metatheories and methodologies. Little of it seems to have accumulated. In addition, we seem to have encorporated whole-sale a number of European concepts (Lacanium, Derridium, etc.) that have only further alienated those of us who are researchers from our practitioner brethen. Our 'epistemic culture' just doesn't seem to be working. I attribute this failure to two factors:

1. An over-reliance on language as indicated by the post-constructivist or constructionist turn; and
2. The balkanization of the field into quals and quants, academics and practitioners.

One approach to research and design addresses these two concerns.

CONCEPT- as I have mentioned before, I feel we need appropriate means of visually representing some of the concepts we deal with. I do not imply that we change our focus from the user's construction of information but rather address how we both study and represent our research. I suggest that we make room for visual culture in addition to the verbal culture upon which we depend.

STUDIES- 1. obviously, the first thing I need to do is to position my argument within the existing literature. I imagine an extension of my "successive approximations" piece.
2. I need to review three different fields. Perhaps short exploratory pieces may be sufficient: 1) diagrammatic reasoning, 2) pattern languages, 3) information architecture especially the visual components.
3. It would be interesting to extend the existing graphical representations common in IA to represent the user and the user's needs from an HIB perspective.
4. Having reviewed the system or IA side of things, I need to review how the HIB world presents their own resources. Based on a review of diagrammatic reasoning I can conduct an analysis of existing models and validate them based on interviews with professionals.
5. With some idea of what the pattern language should look like, I can develop a language based on library observations.
6. I would also want to triangulate the method against some other problem i.e., hiring in small businesses.

There it is: an operational framework. We'll see how it goes.