Dr Michael Olsson is an active researcher in the field of information behaviour/information practices research, with a particular interest in information/knowledge sharing through in academic, professional and artistic communities. His work is essentially interdisciplinary and has appeared in leading international research journals and conferences in a range of different fields, including Information Studies, Communication and Knowledge Management. He is strongly associated with the emergence of new discourse analytic and social constructivist approaches to information research, focusing particularly on the social construction of information & knowledge and the inter-relationship of meaning and authority (Knowledge/Power). He has a strong interest in the relationship between theory, research and professional practice. He is the recipient (with Aroney and Van Leeuwen) of the 2011 UTS Excellence in Learning & Teaching Award for Strengthening the UTS Model of Learning. He was Program Track Chair for the ‘Information’ Track at the prestigious 2012 American Society for Information Science & Technology Annual Meeting. He is President-elect of the Asia-Pacific chapter of the Association for Information Science & Technology.
President-elect, Asia-Pacific Chapter, Association for Information Science & Technology.
Member, Research Committee, Australian Library & Information Association, 2008-.
Council Founding Member, International Council on Knowledge Management, 2007-.
Can supervise: YES
My current research project is 'From Mud to Museum: Making Sense of Archeology'.. This international, multi-disciplinary study seeks to develop a deeper understanding of how archeologists and museum professionals make sense of archeological sites and artefacts. The study will follow the ‘journey’ of artefacts from their discovery in the field, through their analysis by different specialists, their classification and conservation at archeological repositories, and, in some cases, their ultimate display in museums. The study used multiple case studies including: the Iron Age Broch of Gurness and Neolithic Ness of Brodgar excavations on Orkney; the pre-Columbian Moundville Archaeological Park in Alabama, USA; the Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney; and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge. By including as case studies different sites and institutions specialising in different historical periods in different countries, the study will provide insights into how practices differ in these different contexts and, by doing so, provide opportunities for international knowledge sharing. The second phase of the project will use the findings of this research to help develop digital resources which will aid archeologists and museum professionals, as well as providing enhanced access to their discoveries and collections for a worldwide online audience.
My previous major research project, Making Sense of Shakespeare, looked at how theatre professionals (actors, designers, directors etc.) make sense of a culturally iconic author. The findings of the study were based on interviews with 35 theatre professionals in Canada, Finland and the UK, including 14 from the Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada, North America’s largest and most prestigious classical repertory theatre, and 12 from Shakespeare’s Globe in London. Other participants include actors, writers and directors associated with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and the Central School of Speech & Drama in the UK and the Tampereen Työväen Teatteri in Finland. Publications based on this research have appeared in leading research journals including Library and Information Science Research and Libri, major international conferences including the 2009 Information: Interactions and Impact (i3) conference held at The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK, 22–25 June 2009 and the 2010 American Society for Information Science & Technology Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA 22-27 October 2010, as well as in a chapter of the book Social Information Research.
People, Information and Knowledge; Information Cultures; Information Research and Data Analysis; Information Architecture and Design;Information & Knowledge Management Project; Information & Knowledge Management Major Paper.
Lloyd, A & Olsson, M 2019, 'Untangling the knot: The information practices of enthusiast car restorers', Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, vol. 70, no. 12, pp. 1311-1323.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2019 ASIS & T A study of enthusiast car restorers is used to illustrate how an information practice approach can provide information science researchers with a richer, more nuanced understanding of the complex interrelationship between people, technology, and information. An ethnographic approach incorporating both semistructured interviews and in the garage ethnographic observation was employed. Analysis was undertaken using an inductive, thematic approach. The findings demonstrate that participants' information environments are rich and complex. Participants' accounts emphasized the corporeal and embodied nature of the restoration process, and this may account for why they privileged the social networks they had developed, often over many decades, over online resources and communities. The findings indicate that participants are engaged in much more than applied problem solving. What is also evident is that engagement in the social world of car restoration, and the networks of social knowledge sharing it affords, is significant for the emotional support it provides for older men who often lose these networks later in life. In a sense, the participants are not only rebuilding their cars but also their own sense of self.
Lloyd, A & Olsson, MR 2019, 'Enacting and capturing embodied knowledge in the practices of enthusiast car restorers: Emerging themes', Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, vol. 51, no. 4, pp. 1033-1040.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This paper reports on emerging themes drawn from a larger ongoing qualitative study of car restorers which explores themes of embodiment, embodied knowledge and ways of knowing. The themes described in this current article indicate that car restoration is bounded within a discourse of loyalty to the particular type of practice and its projects (restoration), its material object (the car) and to narratives of expertise, maintenance and preservation. The study’s findings also demonstrate that enthusiast car restorers, along with other serious leisure communities, have become the unacknowledged custodians of a large body of hands-on knowledge which would otherwise be in danger of being lost in an increasingly post-industrial world.
Olsson, M, Huvila, I, Dalbello, M & Faniel, I 2019, 'Editorial: Archaeology and information research', Information Research: an international electronic journal, vol. 24, no. 2.
Huvila, I, Olsson, M, Faniel, IM, Dalbello, M & Dallas, C 2017, 'Archaeological perspectives in information science', Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 570-573.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Copyright © 2017 by Association for Information Science and Technology Archaeology is a domain that has intersections with information science and technology research both as an empirical domain of investigation and as a perspective to inquire into how people interact with information. The aim of this panel is to highlight this interdisciplinary nexus of diverse engagements and to explicate how archaeology has informed and could inform information science research and practice in the future, and how empirical information science research on archaeological practices has enhanced our understanding of both archaeological work and human information behavior and practices in general.
Olsson, MR 2017, 'Being in place: embodied information practices', Information Research: an international electronic journal, vol. 22, no. 1.
Introduction. The concept of embodied information practices and the implications for research and professional practice are examined drawing from the authors’ empirical studies of people engaged in professional and everyday practices. The authors suggest that information behaviour research’s focus on individual cognition has led our field to overlook the important role that embodied practices play in individual and collective sense-making.
Method. Conceptual paper that draws from a number of qualitatively framed research projects, which explore the role of information practices in knowledge construction.
Conclusions. Empirical studies which focus on non-linguistic and embodied practices may appear removed from the Library and Information Science agenda, however these should become increasingly routine, because they provide the research field with a source of information about how people engage with the non-normative aspects of everyday life and learn from others to inform their practices.
Olsson, MR & Lloyd, A 2017, 'Losing the art and craft of know-how: capturing vanishing embodied knowledge in the 21st century', Information Research: an international electronic journal, vol. 22, no. 4.
Introduction. The study examines the information practices of enthusiast car restorers in order to gain a greater understanding of embodied information practices.
Conceptual framework. The study is informed by a range of different theoretical approaches including practice theory, sense-making and Foucauldian, multimodal and critical discourse analysis.
Methodology. The study usesan ethnographic approach, using semi-structured interviews and in the garage ethnographic observation. Analysis was undertaken using an inductive, thematic approach.
Findings. Enthusiast car restorers see the lack of information resources relating to their hobby as a challenge as much as a barrier. Car clubs and informal social networks of fellow enthusiasts provide both mentoring and moral support. Learning by doing is central to developing embodied knowledge. Participants describe working on their cars as providing them with a sense of achievement that was otherwise missing in their lives.
Conclusion. The study’s findings show that enthusiast car restorers live in a complex in formation world, where social networks and learning by doing are central. The study’s findings in relation to alienation, achievement and identity suggest that research in to embodied practices may have a broader significance than has been hitherto recognised.
Olsson, M 2016, 'Making sense of the past: The embodied information practices of field archaeologists', Journal of Information Science, vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 410-419.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This paper reports the findings of a study of the information practices of archaeologists, students and volunteers undertaking an excavation
in the field. Conceptually, the study was guided by a social constructionist and practice-theoretical epistemological standpoint.
Methodologically, the study employed a multi-faceted approach incorporating both ethnographic observation of archaeologists working
in the field and in-depth interviews. The findings show that participants’ practices were both social and embodied in nature.
This article provides a critical analysis of some of the key theories and assumptions that underpin prevailing approaches to the concept of ‘information user’ in contemporary information research and professional practice, suggesting that they continue to reflect a tacitly systems-oriented focus. The author draws on the Sense-Making theories of Brenda Dervin and the discourse analytic work of Michel Foucault, as well as his own research, to outline a more holistic approach to understanding the complex relationship between people, information, and their social context. This recommendation includes a greater focus on context, on long-term relationships, and the complex role of emotion and embodiment in people’s sense-making. AARL March 2009 vol 40 no 1 pp 22–35
I welcome the opportunity to revisit the topic of my 2009 article, analysing the assumptions
that underpin prevailing approaches to the concept of ‘information user’ in contemporary
information research and professional practice, as I feel this is a topic which will always be
relevant to information researcher and professionals. The aim of my original article was to
challenge some prevailing ideas and assumptions associated with the user-centred paradigm
(Dervin & Nilan, 1986) by drawing on emerging social constructivist perspectives on the
relationship between people and information. I feel that the seven years since then have
made the question of how we understand this fundamental question even more important.
One of the most important things we can learn from these social constructivist approaches
is that, as information professionals and researchers, our view of the world, our ways of making
sense of our professional and research practices and of the clients we interact with are
always the products of social construction, influenced by theories and approaches prevalent
in our professional, academic and cultural environment. As a consequence, information
researchers and professionals will always need to revisit these approaches, and question
their appropriateness in a changing environment. Our thinking, as information professionals
and researchers, and in society as a whole, has inevitably moved on in the seven
years since my original article came out, so this provides an opportunity to briefly discuss
a few recent developments.
Heizmann, H & Olsson, MR 2015, 'Power matters: the importance of Foucault's power/knowledge as a conceptual lens in KM research and practice', JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 756-769.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Introduction. This paper advocates Foucault's notion of pouvoir/savoir (power/knowledge) as a conceptual lens that information researchers might fruitfully use to develop a richer understanding of the relationship between knowledge and power.
Methods. Three of the authors' earlier studies are employed to illustrate the use of this conceptual lens. Methodologically, the studies are closely related: they adopted a qualitative research design and made use of semi-structured and/or conversational, in-depth interviews as their primary method of data collection. The data were analysed using an inductive, discourse analytic approach.
Analysis. The paper provides a brief introduction to Foucault's concept before examining the information practices of academic, professional and artistic communities. Through concrete empirical examples, the authors aim to demonstrate how a Foucauldian lens will provide a more in-depth understanding of how particular information practices exert authority in a discourse community while other such practices may be construed as ineffectual.
Conclusion. The paper offers a radically different conceptual lens through which researchers can study information practices, not in individual or acultural terms but as a social construct, both a product and a generator of power/knowledge.
Olsson, M 2014, 'Information Practices in Contemporary Cosmopolitan Civil Society', Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 79-93.View/Download from: Publisher's site
What is the nature of information? What is its role in Contemporary Cosmopolitan Civil Society? What is the basis for the widespread current belief that we live in an ‘information society’? The present article will examine these questions through an examination of the historical origins of established ‘scientized’ views of information in the philosophy of the Enlightenment. It describes how postmodern and poststructuralist critique of such positivist approaches led to profound paradigmatic and methodological shifts in the social and information studies fields in recent decades. It consider how the emergence of social constructivist approaches to information research drawing on discourse analysis, practice theory and ethnographic theories and methodologies has led to a have led researchers to a radically different understanding of central concepts such as: the influence of emergent information and communication technologies on contemporary society; the relationship between knowledge and power, the nature of expertise and authoritative information; a re-thinking of community and consensus; a re-interpretation of notions of space and place in information dissemination, sharing and use and a reconsideration of the role of the researcher. The article illustrates this changing research landscape through reference to the work of scholars in the Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Research Centre at the University of Technology, Sydney, published in the Centre’s journal.
© 2014 Intellect Ltd Article. This article presents a case study of a compulsory first-year undergraduate communication degree subject (Language and Discourse) that combines critical discourse analysis, genre and multimodality studies with the teaching of radio production. Using audio/radio as its primary focus, the subject is delivered to over 700 students per semester and aims to produce communications professionals whose everyday practice is informed by an understanding of how theory and practice work together. Described here are the rationale, pedagogical approach and early outcomes of this subject through qualitative research methods including interviews with key course designers, tutors and students. In this subject students produce genre-diverse radio/audio pieces that reflect an understanding of complex theoretical concepts, such as Foucault's work on discourse analysis. The article concludes that radio has a distinctive part to play in the teaching of language and media studies to large cohorts of students using the skills and resources brought to the subject by a generation of digital natives.
Olsson, MR 2013, 'Making Sense of Shakespeare: a Cultural Icon for Contemporary Audiences', Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 14-31.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The works of William Shakespeare are more popular in the 21st century than ever before. Why are theatre and audiences around the globe still drawn to his work? How do they make sense of these texts in ways that resonate with their cosmopolitan, contemporary audiences? This article uses the findings of a study interviewing 35 theatre professionals in Canada, Finland and the United Kingdom to explore these issues. Theoretically and methodologically, it is a bricolage, drawing on a range of approaches including Foucaults discourse analysis, and Hobsbawms invented traditions to understand participants sense-making as a social practice. It argues that attempting to understand the significance of a major cultural icon such as Shakespeare in contemporary cosmopolitan civil society needs to recognise the many meanings, roles and significances that surround him and that this complexity makes it unlikely that any one theoretical lens will prove adequate on its own.
Kennan, M & Olsson, MR 2011, 'Writing It Up: Getting Your Lis Research Out There', Australian Academic and Research Libraries, vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 14-27.
This paper grew out of a presentation at the 'Research for US Practitioners Workshop' organised by the ALIA Research Committees and held at the State Library of New South Wales. The workshop was a satellite event of the Information Online Conference. The
This paper reports on the findings of a study examining how theatre professionals (actors, directors and others) make sense of the works of a culturally iconic author (William Shakespeare). The study aims to address critique of prevailing approaches' excessive focus on active information seeking and searching (Julien 1999; Wilson 2000) by developing a more holistic approach, one which acknowledges the complexity of sense-making as more than the problem-solving behaviour of individuals -- as an embodied, social process, involving emotion as well as rationality. In doing so it draws on theoretical approaches from a range of different disciplines and traditions, including Dervin's Sense-Making, Foucault's discourse analysis and Derrida's deconstructionism. The findings of the study are based on interviews with 35 theatre professionals in Canada, Finland and the UK.
This study examines how theater professionals (actors, directors and others) make sense of the works of a culturally iconic author (William Shakespeare). The research aims to address critique of the information studies/science field's excessive focus on active information seeking and searching by developing an alternative approach, and to understand sense-making as more than the problem-solving behavior of individuals: to see it as an embodied, social process, involving emotion as well as rationality. In doing so it draws on theoretical approaches from a range of different disciplines and traditions, including Dervin's sense-making, Foucault's discourse analysis and Derrida's deconstructionism
This article provides a critical analysis of some of the key theories and assumptions that underpin prevailing approaches to the concept of 'information user' in contemporary information research and professional practice, suggesting that they continue to reflect a tacitly systems-oriented focus. The author draws on the Sense-Making theories of Brenda Dervin and the discourse analytic work of Michel Foucault, as well as his own research, to outline a more holistic approach to understanding the complex relationship between people, information, and their social context. This recommendation includes a greater focus on context, on long-term relationships, and the complex role of emotion and embodiment in people's sense-making.
This article reports the findings of a study examining the social/discursive construction of an author (Brenda Dervin) by an international community of researchers (information behavior researchers). A crucial conceptual starting point for the study was
Olsson, MR 2005, 'Making Sense of Sense Making: Information behaviour Researchers Construct an "Author"', The Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 315-334.
This paper reports the findings of a study of how members of a scholarly community (15 information behaviour researchers) constructed the meaning(s) and significance(s) of an author whose work is prominent in their field (Brenda Dervin). Its findings reveal the essentially social nature of participants' constructive processes. In shifting theoretical attention from individual cognition to social processes, the study seeks to address criticisms of prevailing approaches to information behaviour research voiced by critics such as Frohmann (1992), Talja (1997), and Julien (1999). In highlighting the social nature of participants' constructive processes, the paper both builds on and challenges prevailing conceptions of information behaviour.
Olsson, MR 2005, 'Meaning and authority: the social construction of an 'author' among information behaviour researchers', Information Research-An International Electronic Journal, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 1-18.
Introduction. The study explores the social processes that influence the construction by academic ( information behaviour) researchers of the meaning(s) and significance of an author and her work prominent in the literature of their field ( Brenda Dervin
Iivonen, M 2001, 'Information Research: An International Electronic Journal, vol. 1, April, 1995.', Library & Information Science Research, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 297-298.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Olsson, MR 1998, 'The Discourses of Contemporary Information Science Research: An Alternative Approach', Information Research, vol. 4, no. 2, October.
Olsson, MR 1997, 'Foucault: Approaches to Understanding the Text in Context', Keyword: Journal of the Australian Society of Technical Communicators, vol. 7, no. 3, November.
Olsson, MR 2012, ''Ciphers to this Great Accompt' - the Shakespearian Social Sense-Making of Theatre Professionals' in Widen, G & Holmberg, K (eds), Social information Research, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley UK, pp. 17-42.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Purpose To develop a broader understanding of sense-making as an embodied process of social construction. Methodology/approach Extended conversational interviews (Seidman, 1991) were undertaken with 35 prominent theatre professionals in Canada, Finland and the UK exploring the events and relationships that shaped their relationship with Shakespeare and his work. Inductive analysis was carried out inspired by a variety of theoretical lenses, including Dervins Sense-Making and Foucauldian discourse analysis. Findings Participants sense-making was quintessentially social in that it was not only linked to their social connections and relationships with other members of the company but also a process of social construction drawing on a variety of disparate, and sometimes contradictory, established discourses. In contrast to prevailing approaches in information behaviour, the findings emphasise the importance of understanding sense-making in a more holistic way: as a process involving emotions as well as rationality, bodies as well as minds. Research implications Information researchers need to adopt a more holistic approach to understanding the relationship between people and information: to recognise that atomistic approaches focussing on the purposive information seeking of individuals reflect an implicit systems-centrism rather than peoples lived experience. Practical implications Information researchers and practitioners need to consider the social affective and embodied nature of sense-making and consider, for example, the ways in which online social networking sites build on centuries-old communal knowledge sharing practices. Originality/value of paper The study extends our understanding of the importance of affect and embodiment for peoples sense-making, while at the same time demonstrating that they, like language are the products of social construction, both the object and generator of discourse.
Olsson, MR 2010, 'Michel Foucault: Discourse PowerKnowledge and the Battle for Truth' in Leckie, GJ, Given, LM & Buschman, JE (eds), Critical Theory for Library and Information Science: Exploring the Social from Across the Discipline, ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, California, pp. 63-74.
Halbwirth, S & Olsson, MR 2007, 'Working in parallel: Themes in Knowledge Management and Information Behaviour' in Hawamdeh, S (ed), CREATING COLLABORATIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH KNOWLEDGE AND INNOVATION, World Scientific, Singapore, pp. 69-89.
This paper brings together approaches, theories and research from two complementary fields: knowledge management and information behaviour research.
Olsson, MR 2007, 'Knowledge is Power: More than a bumper sticker Foucault's Discourse Analysis as a Conceptual Basis for Knowledge Management' in Starcy, C, Barachini, F & Hawamdeh, S (eds), Knowledge Management: Innovation, Technology and Cultures, World Scientific, Singapore, pp. 201-210.
The phrase 'Knowledge is Power' has become a cliche in contemporary management discourse: a catch-cry taken up by executives, the media, politicians, motivational speaker and knowledge management professionals. Yet despite this, as several critics have noted (Schultze, 199; Olsson and Halbwirth, 2006) there has been relatively little attempt made by knowledge management writers to develop a credible conceptual foundation to examine the relationship between knowledge and power and their implications for knowledge management practice
Olsson, MR & Lloyd, A 2015, 'Embodied Information Practices', Research Applications in Information & Library Studies, University of Technology Sydney.
The concept of embodied information practices and its implications for information research and professional practice are examined. The presentation draws on the researchers’ empirical research in a range of different contexts (firefighting, nursing, chronic illness, theatre production and archaeology) to provide insights into the experiential, affective and embodied elements of information practices.
, Research into the relationship between people and information has been dominated by an
‘information behaviour’ discourse (Savolainen, 2007), which constructs user behaviour as an essentially problem-focussed, individual, purposive and cognitive process. More recently “a more
sociologically and contextually oriented line of research” (Talja, 2005) has emerged which “shifts the focus away from the behavior, action, motives and skills of monological individuals…” (Savolainen
2007, 120) As an alternative perspective this ‘information practices’ discourse acknowledges how people engage with existing discourses and social practices. However, whilst studies drawing on this have played a valuable role in highlighting the importance of language for information practices, studies considering non-linguistic embodied practices remain relatively rare in our field. ( Lloyd 2010).
In this presentation, we extend the information practices viewpoint by connecting it to understandings drawn from a range of different approaches, including practice theory and SenseMaking. Drawing on the findings of our empirical studies into firefighters, renal nurses, patients with chronic illness, theatre professionals and archaeologists , we explore the dynamic, embodied and physical sense making processes involved in information practices. In so doing, we create necessary
connections between three key elements of embodied information practices: the social mediation involved in information practices; the iterative feedback loops involved in enactive sense making,
and practice theoretic perspective...
Narayan, B & Olsson, MR 2013, 'Sense-making Across Space and Time: Implications for the Organization and Findability of Information', Proceedings for Beyond the Cloud: Rethinking Information Boundaries: Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, Montreal, Canada, pp. 1-9.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This paper presents the results from a study of information behaviors, with specific focus on information organisation-related behaviours conducted as part of a larger daily diary study with 34 participants. The findings indicate that organization of information in everyday life is a problematic area due to various factors. The self-evident one is the inter-subjectivity between the person who may have organized the information and the person looking for that same information (Berlin et. al., 1993). Increasingly though, we are not just looking for information within collections that have been designed by someone else, but within our own personal collections of information, which frequently include books, electronic files, photos, records, documents, desktops, web bookmarks, and portable devices. The passage of time between when we categorized or classified the information, and the time when we look for the same information, poses several problems of intra-subjectivity, or the difference between our own past and present perceptions of the same information. Information searching, and hence the retrieval of information from one's own collection of information in everyday life involved a spatial and temporal coordination with one's own past selves in a sort of cognitive and affective time travel, just as organizing information is a form of anticipatory coordination with one's future information needs. This has implications for finding information and also on personal information management.
Olsson, MR, Heizmann, H & Yerbury, H 2013, 'Active Citizenship and Knowledge Management: A Practice-based Perspective', Active Citizenship by Knowledge, Management & Innovation. Proceedings of the Management, Knowledge, and Learning International Conference 2013, Management, Knowledge, and Learning International Conference, ToKnowPress, Zadar, Croatia, pp. 525-532.
Active Citizenship and Knowledge Management: A Practice-based Perspective
Olsson, MR 2011, 'Author-Constructs & Trojan horse-ing: Academic citation as a strategic discursive practice', Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Annual conference of American Society for Information Science and Technology, Wiley, New Orleans, USA, pp. 1-8.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This paper draws on the findings of a study of 15 international information researchers' relationship with an author work prominent in the literature of their field (Brenda Dervin) to examine academic citation practices in a new light. Drawing on social constructivist theories, derived in part from Foucault's approach to discourse analysis, and a methodology drawing on aspects of Dervin's (1999) Sense-Making and Glaser & Strauss' (1967) inductive analytic techniques, it seeks to examine citation as a strategic discursive practice.
Olsson, MR 2010, 'All the World's a Stage: Making Sense of Shakespeare', Navigating Streams in an Information Ecosystem: Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh PA Oct 22-27, American Society for Infomration Science and Technology, American Society for Information Science and Technology, Pittsburgh, USA, pp. 1-10.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This paper reports on the findings of a study examining how theatre professionals (actors, directors and others) make sense of the works of a culturally iconic author (William Shakespeare). The findings of the study are based on interviews with 35 theatre professionals in Canada, Finland and the UK. The study aims a more holistic approach to the study of information behaviour, one which acknowledges the complexity of sense-making as more than the problem-solving behaviour of individuals as an embodied, social process, involving emotion as well as rationality. In doing so it draws on theoretical approaches from a range of different disciplines and traditions, including Dervin's Sense-Making, Foucault's discourse analysis and Derrida's deconstructionism.
Olsson, MR & Halbwirth, S 2006, 'Working in Parallel: Themes in Knowledge Management', The Third International Conference on Knowledge Management, University of Greenwich, University of Greenwich,, pp. 69-88.
Olsson, MR 2005, 'Beyond 'Needy' Individuals: Conceptualizing Information Behavior', Sparkling Synergies - Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Sparkling Synergies - Bringing Reserach and Practice Together, American Society for Information Science and Technology, Charlotte, NC USA, pp. 1-17.
Understanding information users and their behavior is a question of central importance for information research and practice. The paper challenges several aspects of existing approaches to understanding information behaviour, including: the focus on individual cognition at the expense of social and affective factors; the construction of information users as defined by their areas of ignorance and uncertainty, rather than their expertise; and the focus on purposive rather than non-purposive information behavior. It argues that only by addressing these weaknesses and developing new research strategies and theoretical frameworks which focus attention on the social processes and relationships which underpin users information behavior can we hope to develop a truly holistic understanding of the relationship between people and information. It also argues that social constructivist approaches provide a theoretical lens through which information researchers can gain a clearer picture of information users not as needy individuals to be helped, but as social beings, experts in their own life-worlds.
Olsson, MR 2005, 'Sense-making Methodology', 2005 ICA Sense-making Workshop, n/a, New York, USA.
Olsson, MR 2005, 'Social sense-making - Constructing Shakespear: A potential application of sense-making methodology', 2005 ICA Sense-making workshop, ICA Sense-making workshop, n/a, New York, USA.
Olsson, MR 2004, 'Understanding Users: Context Communication and Construction', Challenging Ideas, Australian Library and Information Association Conference, ALIA, Gold Coast, Australia, pp. 1-9.
Olsson, MR 1999, 'Discourse: A New Theoretical Framework for Examining Information Behaviour in its Social Context', Exploring the Contexts of Information Behaviour - Proceedings of the 2nd Information Seeking in Context Conference, Taylor Graham, London.
Olsson, MR 1998, 'Discourse: Understanding Groups', Pathways to Knowledge: Australian Library and Information Association 5th Biennial Conference and Exhibition: conference proceedings, Australian Library and Information Association, Adelaide Convention Centre.