Over the summer of 2014, the iSchool and collaborators from Australia, Brazil, Croatia, England, Finland, France, Ghana, Iran, Malaysia, Russia, and Taiwan, explored visual conceptions of information. They asked the question, “How is the concept of information visualized in my community and beyond?” To answer this question they used the draw-and-write technique. iSquares were collected from graduate students at 12 information studies programs worldwide. The data was meticulously organized and accessioned by Data Coordinator and MI program graduate, Stephanie Power. In seven cases the exercise was conducted in English, and at five sites it was presented in another first language, namely Farsi, Spanish, French, Russian, or Croatian. In total, 541 iSquares from around the world were created.
Back in Toronto, the iSquares were analyzed through a content analysis, spearheaded by MI student and the team’s research manager, Dr. Pavel Danzanov. The process identified common visual motifs related to humanity and sociality, information behaviours, information representation and organization, information and communication technologies, and print artifacts.
During the conference, there was a beautiful on-site exhibition of the 541 international iSquares, designed by PhD student/artist-in-residence Rebecca Noone and funded by ASIS&T’s Special Interest Group for International Information Issues. MI student Bridgette Kelly, the Social Media Manager for the study, live tweeted the panel and engaged with the broader research community in-person and by answering audience questions via social media.
The panel included presentations from the Toronto-based research team as well as a video that collated highlights from six pre-recorded 3-minute videos that document the work of iSquare contributors in Brazil, France, Finland, Iran, Malaysia, Russia, and Taiwan. The formal presentation concluded with the remarks of Dr. Toni Carbo who emphatically encouraged the team to scale-up the iSquare technical and analytical protocol and use it as a way to understand diverse communities’ relationships to information.
The results from the project will soon be reported in peer-reviewed journals of information studies in 2016.
We look forward to sharing our upcoming adventures with you!