The assignments in INFO 200 are meant to build on student knowledge of a community’s information behavior, understanding of peer-reviewed research articles and community-created resources related to the group, and a synthesis of our course content with findings about the community. Blogging and the other major assignments should provide content and insights for the successful competition of the research paper. Content can be remixed and re-used.
For example, this student work focused on dog owners as an information community illustrating the path from blogging, through the assignments, to a successful paper.
Thanks to SJSU student Michael Ulrich for providing these assignments!
Dog owners, considered as a community, might at first glance seem to be defined solely by their shared affinity for that most popular of domestic species, Canis familiaris. But while affinity may be the dominant vector, the three other angles of community, as laid out by Christensen and Levinson (2003), also have their roles to play. The instrumental angle, concerned with utility and achieving goals, can be found in the reasons that many people decide to include dogs in their family: for steady domestic companionship and for encouraging outdoor activity, accomplished mainly through walks. The proximate angle is in evidence when dog owners and their pets encounter other owners and pets in local dog parks or even on neighborhood streets. These meetings can occur by chance, prompting conversation in which information is exchanged informally between owners (as well as between dogs, along sensorial axes we can’t come close to appreciating fully). Meet-up groups are also proof of the proximate angle at work. In these situations, affinity remains the dominant angle, but proximity becomes an added filter, a metaphorical boolean search (for example, “dog owners AND San Francisco”). Finally, the primordial angle shows up not in regards to genetic kinship of owners, but rather in the pedigrees of their pets; specific dog owner groups often focus on pure-bred breeds, of which there are many. Considering how long dogs have been interwoven into human societies, it makes sense that all four of these angles play some role in dog owner communities.
But are dog owners, taken as a whole, an information community? As Fisher and Bishop explain, information communities should be thought of properly as those having “the additional element of focusing on the role of information” (2015). My hypothesis is that many, though certainly not all, dog owners actively display information-seeking behavior. These owners seek information in some of the following domains: dog behavior and training; health and veterinary services; care services like dog-walkers, dog-sitters, and kennels; dog-friendly places like parks, hotels, and destinations; and emerging technologies like microchipping and GPS and fitness tracking. In my imminent research, I hope to uncover some of the specific ways in which dog owners reflect Fisher, Unruh and Durrance’s five characteristics of information communities (2003). Some of these characteristics, like “capacity to foster social connectedness,” seem almost self-evident among dog owning communities. But others, like “capacity to exploit the information-sharing qualities of emerging technologies,” I expect will be trickier to track, especially within the limits of peer-reviewed LIS literature.
Christensen, K., & Levinson, D. (2003). Introduction & reader’s guide. In K. Christensen, & D. Levinson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of community: from the village to the virtual world (pp. xxi- xxiiii). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Reference. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/10.4135/9781412952583.n248
Fisher, K., Unruh, T., & Durrance, J. (2003). Information communities: characteristics gleaned from studies of three online networks. In R. Todd (Ed.), Proceedings of the 66th annual meeting of the american society for information science & technology (pp. 299–305). Medford, NJ: Information Today.
Fisher, K.E. & Bishop, A.P. (2015). Information communities: defining the focus of information service. In S. Hirsh (Ed.), Information services today (pp. 20-26).