CPD 23 Thing 5 – Reflection: Our relationship with information

Since starting this CPD 23 Things course I have become more relaxed about using social media tools. My main concern was being overwhelmed. I am glad to find that many of the concerns I hold are shared by other participants.

In turn it has made me think of points of interests I’ve had for sometime namely our relationship with information. In particular I am intrigued by the concept of information overload and the part the social media tools play.

To me it is about information overconsumption rather than overload. These tools and use of them are a reflection of our relationship with information, how it is produced and consumed.

A book I have on my reading list is Clay Johnson’s “The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption” having read a fascinating review on the following blog: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/01/19/the-information-diet-clay-johnson/. Clay Johnson draws attention to the idea of information being like food and that we should consider the consumption of it in the same way. He raises the point about it being a health issue. I brought this topic up at the LibCamp@Brunel and wondered at the role of information professional in supporting an information diet. I’ve recently read the post and discussion “If Information is Food, What Does It Mean to Say, ‘You Are What You Eat’?” on Agnostic, Maybe:  http://agnosticmaybe.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/if-information-is-food-what-does-it-mean-to-say-you-are-what-you-eat/. It was good see that this idea of information as food brings about an interesting debate. I’m still undecided about the role of information professional however I feel it depends on the ‘consumer’. Clearly a researcher will have different needs to someone with leisure interests, therefore in the former cases it is essential that the informational professional acts more like a nutritionist.  

It also reminded me of an article I read David Bawden and Lyn Robinson “The dark side of information: overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies” Journal of Information Science Volume 35 Issue 2, April 2009. Bawden and Robinson point out that information overload is a more a perceived problem than an actual problem. Also the notion of information overload is not new and there similar accounts taking place during the period of increased publication in 19th century. The problem may be more associated with information behaviour.

Finally I rather like Margaret Atwood’s take on Twitter: “Let’s just say it’s communication, and communication is something human beings like to do.” http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2010/mar/29/atwood-in-the-twittersphere/. To me this sums up most of the social media tools available and I look forward to exploring.

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