Information and Society

azaleas1Increased access to digital information resources combined with increased expectations of the users of those resources has prompted dramatic changes in information needs in the information society. My work in this area explores the future of the information society in our everyday lives, and examines the role we can all play in shaping that future as active participants in the creation of digital knowledge.

Unintended Consequences of Information Technology
Information technologies have dramatically changed the way we work, live, and play in today’s on demand world. My work in this area examines the unintended and unanticipated social consequences of implementing new information technologies in the 21st century. Does our increased reliance on, and trust in, advanced information systems pose dangers to life and limb? Do we risk losing the recorded knowledge of humanity as we produce more and more digital data? Are we becoming too dependent on the information technologies we create to make our lives easier? In my ongoing research, I am exploring the pros and cons of information technology in our everyday lives in order to improve our understanding of how we can identify and mitigate against the risk factors that lead to information technology disasters.

Involving Users in the Co-Construction of Distributed Knowledge
Libraries, archives, and museums increasingly provide their users with social computing tools that include the ability to tag collections, annotate objects, and otherwise contribute their thoughts to the knowledge base of the institution. To consider the long-term implications of involving users in the co-construction of knowledge online, I co-edited a special issue of Library Trends examining what happens when users are involved in shaping, directing, and guiding the development of online libraries, archives, and museums and their information resources [1]. To explore the benefits of encouraging students to become active participants in the scientific inquiry process, I conducted a research project where elementary school students collected and analyzed scientific data in wildlife centers [2]. Students visiting the Tallahassee Museum used digital journals to formulate scientific inquiries and record observations about the museum’s wildlife habitats [3], and an online interactive website to access their digital journal entries, share their observations with other students, and analyze wildlife data [4].

The Future of the Information Schools
Faculty, staff, and students at Schools of Information around the world recognize the profound societal importance of connecting people, information, and technology. Every organization in today’s society faces information problems, and every organization needs individuals who are prepared to solve those problems and make society work better. Individuals working or studying at Schools of Information have the skills, knowledge, and ability to facilitate universal information access, evaluation, use and creation within a dynamic culture of emerging information technologies. My research is exploring the changing role of the Information Schools — within the university system and in society as a whole — to improve our understanding of how the Information Schools prepare individuals who can overcome information challenges in all organizations, and shape the future of the information society.