Learning to work between information infrastructures

Publication Type:

Journal Article

Authors:

Isto Huvila

Source:

Information Research, Volume 24, Number 2, p.paper 819 (2019)

URL:

http://www.informationr.net/ir/24-2/paper819.html

Keywords:

Documentation, information behaviour, information infrastructures, information work, learning

Abstract:

This study investigates the implications of the interplay of multiple information infrastructures to learning and conducting work and to its related information work practices, and how the materialities of work and its infrastructures play into their intermingling. The present study is based on an ethnography of a week-long archaeological teaching excavation conducted by the author. The excavation took place on a lithic site in a Nordic country in Spring 2016. The analysis of the ethnographic data was based on constant comparative method and close reading. Four major information infrastructures were identified in the empirical setting. They and their diverging materialities were intimately linked to how information work was conducted at the excavation. The presence of two infrastructures designed for the same purposes of documenting the site and excavation process caused problems with scheduling and managing the work, but did at the same time make their associated premises and infrastructural obligations visible for the participants of the excavation. The older of these two infrastructures played a potentially important role as an infrastructural stalwart, an infrastructure that stabilised another infrastructure. The presence of parallel, overlapping information infrastructures makes them visible and potentially less effective but also unveils their underpinnings for learning and insights in their role in information work.

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