Whether employed as a research method or pedagogical strategy, iSquares bring information science into the
visual Information Age and create a richer multimedia genealogy for a beloved central concept.
This website is the home of an ongoing, arts-informed, visual research project into the concept of information. It is geared for scholars, educators, and students in the field of information science but may be of interest to others, too. The study explores: 1) How do people visualize the concept of information?, 2) How do visual conceptions of information differ among various populations?, and 3) How do these images relate to conceptions of information made of words?
To answer these questions, a research team at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto employs an empirical, visual method known as the draw-and-write technique. Research subjects are given a 4.25" by 4.25" piece of paper and asked to express their understanding of information in the form of a drawing (see the process here). On the reverse side of the same paper they are prompted to complete the phrase, "Information is...". The process generates a compact piece of visual and textual data called an 'information square' or iSquare, for short. 2,000+ iSquares have been gathered thus far and a sample of our favorites are shown below.
A selection of especially striking drawings are shown immediately below, followed by the first 308 iSquares in the study -- all collected from graduate students at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Information. Hovering over each iSquare reveals the written response to the phrase "Information is..." that participants wrote on the reverse side. Other sections of this website address the range of Square research projects; the iSquare protocol (the data-gathering method); applications for information science education; and interdisciplinary forays taken with the iSquares into the arts and humanities. If the iSquare research captures your imagination, please participate and/or contact us.