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Slow information in theory and practice: a qualitative exploration into the implications of a Slow perspective of human information behaviour

Poirier, Elizabeth Suzanne Rachel (2012). Slow information in theory and practice: a qualitative exploration into the implications of a Slow perspective of human information behaviour. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University, London)


This research project was motivated by the question of how a Slow perspective may relate to and impact upon theories of information behaviour and upon everyday information practices. Two related qualitative studies were undertaken to explore the relevance of Slow principles to the notion of the information society. The task-based, fixed end-points of existing theories of information behaviour and information literacy are shown to inadequately reflect the complexity of life in a social landscape characterised by the acceleration, and subsequent proliferation, of information channels.

The project progressed through three distinct but related phases which are reported here. First, the conceptual foundations of a Slow perspective were hypothesised during reviews of the literature and existing conceptions of the information society. A Delphi study was then executed to facilitate discussion of the issues between experts in information behaviour. Thirdly, a focus group session was held to engage Slow experts in similar discussion of the issues from a practice perspective. Each phase was guided by a social constructivist methodology which encouraged participants and moderator to engage in conscious consideration of their perspective by connecting and discussing with others, echoing the Slow principles that the project sought to explore.

A Slow perspective is shown to challenge received notions of information behaviour in three ways. The first two relate to fixed causal processes wherein the temporal progression of information behaviour and, relatedly, information literacy, is disrupted by a focus on tempo. The third challenge disrupts what ‘information’ is when society itself is perceived as information-based, shifting from an instrumental to an experiential view.

Elements of a Slow approach were reported in practice as a means of attaining ‘informational balance’, which in turn can be seen to encourage everyday information literacy. Specifically Slow attitudes were reported in some withdrawal and avoidance behaviours, and were also rejected when the pressure of informational speed and scale proved too beneficial, or indeed, too addictive.

The project concludes with an illustration of the implications of a Slow perspective of information behaviour, and recommendations for further research with this illustration in mind.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > Library & Information Science
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Poirier_vol1_Sep12.pdf]
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[thumbnail of Poirier_vol2_Sep12.pdf]
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