Information ecology and ecology of information

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Tue, 10/11/2011 - 14:47

I was kindly invited to contribute to the Information ecology and libraries conference in Bratislava, an event I am currently participating. Considering my history, it is not very surprising that I find the notion of information ecology enticing and useful in explicating patterns of information interactions as a contextual and temporal phenomenon. The different presenters at the conference have highlighted several different aspects of information ecologies. 


My own paper Social aspects of the ecology of information work discussed my earlier model of the ecology of information work in the light of three major social theories of communities of practice, social capital and social information foraging.


Barbara B. Moran (UNC at Chapel Hill) discussed the future of libraries in ecological terms and mapped different factors that are fundamental for adapting to the changing information ecosystem. I found her discussion of the three strategies of adaptation: anagenesis, cladogenesis and hybridisation as especially interesting. According to the first strategy, libraries, or organisations in general, continue more or less as they have done before. In cladogenesis, a species (organisation) is split into two, for instance, libraries proper and other types of information organisations. Hybridisation combines different earlier functions in one as in case of the Idea Store (of London) and several public libraries in Sweden that have began to cooperate with other public and private services.


Jela Steinerová (Comenius University, Bratislava) discussed the information ecology of the academic information environment in Slovakia and demonstrated the usability of concept maps as a method for explicating and visualising central aspects information ecologies. Steinerovás approach is also interesting in the sense that her notion of information ecology and ecological information stretches the boundaries of the notion towards bi-directionality. Information ecology can be used to explain the dynamics of human-information-technology interactions, but 'ecologicality' functions also as a quality of a certain kind of information.


Of other papers, the talk David Bawden (City University, London) will be giving tomorrow morning seems very promising simialrly to the careful analysis of various types of information ecology concepts by Michal Lorenz (Masaryk University Brno, Czech Republic) and the overviews of structural abstracts by Arkadiusz Pulikowski (University of Silesia) and of competetive intelligence by Richard Papik and Martin Soucek (Charles University Prague).