Framework for studying information work

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 07:58

 One of the many conclusions of a workshop arranged at Roskilde University, Denmark with professor Brenda Dervin about four years ago was that "social life is a mess". Indeed it is when you look at it close enough and try to make sense of it. Information related activity could be described to be even messier, because of the rather abstract nature of the concept in comparison to many other notions of everyday life.

As a partial solution to the problem, I am presenting a framework for analysing and making sense of human information activity (or information work, not necessarily referring to work settings per se) called information work analysis. It combines ecological theory, soft systems approach and faceted analysis of information interactions to present a picture of information activities in context. One of the strengths of the approach is that it is sensitive to the complexities of social life, but still is able to explicate some of its features in systemic terms. Therefore the framework provides means to discuss human information work and technical information systems together.

The article is published and freely available at the open access journal Information Research at