Context-making in archaeological information work

Context-making in practiceI am participating in the 2014 Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA. He gave a talk on context making in archaeological work as a part of the SIG-USE (for a special interest group for information seeking and use) research symposium on Saturday.

The talk was focussed on this years theme on studying contexts as a part of information research and explored the issue of how different actors essentially make the contexts of their work as a part of doing what they do. A researcher who makes observations on a subject of research frames what is the main thing and what is something that makes the context of that thing. For instance, when a field archaeologist focuses on a particular archaeological site, all other things including other sites, other findings and the documented features, finds and samples become contextual (sort of meta-information) for the site. In contrast, a finds specialist can have a tendency to focus on a find and see the site and everything else around the object as contextual. This context-making has an impact how things are documented, what kinds of techniques and technologies are chosen and used and in the end, what we know about the past. At the same time, the largely implicit work of context-making can become a hinder for reuse of data as the contextual ideas of the original documenters and secondary users differ from each other.

The things becomes even more complicated when we add additional context-makers to teh picture. When I am as a social science researcher making observations on what people are doing I am making similarly my own judgments about what is the principal work of the people I am studying and whta is contextual to their work. Rather than seeing this as a problem, it might be more useful to be reflective about it, acknowledge the on-going pcontext-makings and consider its implications.

Abstract and slides for the presentation can be found at http://istohuvila.se/node/419 and a slightly different version of this post published in http://arkdis-project.blogspot.com/2014/11/talking-about-context-making.html

Information Services and Digital Literacy provides an alternative perspective for understanding information services and digital literacy, and argues that a central problem in the age of the social web and the culture of participation is that we do not know the premises of how we know, and how ways of interacting with information affect our actions and their outcomes.

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Taking Health Information Behaviour into Account: implications of a neglected element for success- ful implementation of consumer health technologies on older adults (HIBA) is an Academy of Finland funded research project at Åbo Akademi University.

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ARKDIS project maps the implications and opportunities of the digitalisation of information and information work in the domain of archaeology and to develop and evaluate conceptual and practical methods and procedures for enhancing archaeological information work in the digitalised environment.

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