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Issue No.04 - Oct.-Dec. (2013 vol.35)
pp: 96
William Aspray , Univ. of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA
ABSTRACT
One way to view the literature on the history of computing is to consider the function of the computing device that comes under historical investigation. However, new uses of computers supplement rather than supplant old uses of computers. For example, we still have scientific calculators, business database machines, and personal computers in the modern era. This article focuses on the computer as a personal machine as a device to gather information through email and Web searches, and hence the focus is on the period starting in the early 1990s and carrying forward to the present. Historians of computing are typically focused on information technology (including its uses), while information science scholars often focus instead on information and its organization, even if information technology plays an important supporting role. The particular concern in this case study is everyday information-seeking behavior, or everyday information for short.
INDEX TERMS
History, Information retrieval, Information technology, Search engines, Search methods,everyday information, History, Information retrieval, Information technology, Search engines, Search methods, information search, history of computing, information seeking, information technology, information and communications technology
CITATION
William Aspray, "Computers, Information, and Everyday Life", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.35, no. 4, pp. 96, Oct.-Dec. 2013, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2013.46
REFERENCES
1. An example of this line of scholarship is H.Goldstine, The Computer from Pascal to VonNeumann, Princeton Univ. Press, 1980.
2. An example of this line of scholarship is M. Campbell-Kelly and W. Aspray, Computer: A History of the Information Machine, 1st ed. Basic Books, 1996. Later editions are a blend of this line of argument and arguments about the computer as a personal device.
3. For an overview of all the information science literature on information seeking behavior, not just everyday information seeking, see D.O. Case, Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior, 2nd ed., Emerald Group Publishing, 2006. For an overview of the literature on everyday information scholarship, see R. Savolainen, Everyday Information Practices: A Social Phenomenological Perspective, Scarecrow Press, 2008.
4. Scattered throughout Savolainen's book are various passages on the Internet, and Savolainen does a good job of citing the relevant literature in these sections.
5. B. Wellman and C. Haythornthwaite eds., The Internet in Everyday Life, Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.
6. M. Bakardjieva, Internet Society: The Internet in Everyday Life, Sage Publications, 2005; E. Lally,At Home with Computers, Berg Publishers, 2002.
7. , One gets a good start in understanding the literature on everyday information by looking at the references in the Bakardjieva, Case, and Savolainen books. However, also see C. Courtright, “Context in Information Behavior Research,” Ann. Rev. Information Science and Technology, vol. 41, 2007, pp. 273-306, and K.M. Spurgin, “Everyday Information Organization Practices in the Pursuit of Leisure: The information Organization, Management, and Keeping Activities of Amateur Art Photographers,” literature review, School of Library and Information Science, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 5 May 2008; www.infomuse.net/paperslitreview.pdf.
8. See Chapters 1 and 2 for an extensive discussion of the theory behind the Internet and everyday life.
9. Perhaps the best example of study of this genre is Savolainen's Everyday Information Practices. One can imagine the everyday information scholars drawing from the work of the social media scholars who have looked at online behavior, from Lambda Moo to Second Life, or from the work of scholars who look at online behavior in the context of computer-supported cooperative work. However, there seems to have been little drawing from these literatures to date.
10. W. Aspray and B. Hayes, eds., Everyday Information: The Evolution of Information Seeking in America, MIT Press, 2011.
11. In particular, see A. Abbott,The System of Professions: An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1988.
12. There are a number of Scandinavian scholars, notably the Finnish scholar Reijo Savolainen, and many of their studies are taken from their home countries. There are relatively few studies covering everyday information behavior in other parts of the world. The leading scholar on information seeking by disadvantaged populations in the United States is the late Alfreda Chatman. Her work is referenced in the books by Savolainen and Case. There is an unstated and largely unexplored belief that information search is different for disadvantaged groups because of their lack of access to technology or other sources of information or because of their lack of education to carry out sophisticated searches and do a thorough job of evaluating the credibility of the information they gather. Thus, there has been little motivation to look at information-seeking behavior of wealthy populations. But if there are class differences, not only access and educational differences at play, there may be value in studying the information-seeking behavior of wealthy populations.
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