While a teenager in the 1980s, I thoroughly enjoyed popular music and to this day think of that decade as a musical rennaisance, with exuberant songs such as Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Nowadays, as an information scientist centered on the research area of information behavior, I admire that very decade for its profusion of innovations, especially breakthrough models. So, I recently made a short video that brings these matters together, playfully and maybe outrageously.
The video Learn Information Behavior, 1980s-Style! opens to Lauper’s famous melody and goes on to feature four great information behavior luminaries from the 1980s and their contributions. Specifically, Brenda Dervin’s Sense-Making (1983), Carol Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (1988), Marcia Bates’ Berrypicking (1989), and Elfreda Chatman’s multiple social theories (1996) are the stars. Through a systematic comparative analysis, each is analyzed in terms of biography, metatheory, and their research methods, and then their big idea is encapsulated.
—The video moves (or like Cindy Lauper, bops) chronologically from one information behavior scholar to another, propelled by synthesizers, giving viewers a fun and expeditious intellectual history of the era.—
The video moves (or like Cindy Lauper, bops) chronologically from one information behavior scholar to another, propelled by synthesizers, giving viewers a fun and expeditious intellectual history of the era. A conclusion (which riffs on Robert Palmer’s hit, “Addicted to Love”) reprises each contribution and states its longer-term repercussions on the information behavior literature and field. For example, the turn towards the affective dimension of information behavior and newfound critical concerns with information equity, are stated as the lasting impacts of Kuhlthau and Chatman, respectively.
This is the second video I have made using JibJab, an online platform that allows users to create entertaining music videos that are personalized through photographs of one’s aquaintances. (My first JibJab production was the 2022 holiday message to information science, Information Science Macareindeer.) It is fair for information science stakeholders to ask, “Are comedic, singing and dancing versions of our luminaries the best way to disseminate ideas?” My answer is, unequivocally, “Yes.” Historically, information science has not built bridges between its intellectual capital and popular culture, leaving us potentially unknown and irrelevant outside our relatively small scholarly and professional communities of practice. And, I have found that students today feel even seminal papers to be inaccessible or dry; more lively framings are an urgent necessity to prevent their obsolescence. On a personal note, I trust my creative instincts and the joyful spark that brought these remote movements of the 1980s together.
Intended as an introduction and gateway, the video at hand, Learn Information Behavior, 1980s Style! only scratches the surface of its topic. Viewers wanting to know more are just one click away from detailed and serious treatments of the same material, in What Makes This Paper Great? episodes about Sense-Making and Neutral Questioning, The Information Search Process, and Berrypicking.
Bates, M. J. (1989). The design of browsing and berrypicking techniques for the online search interface. On-Line Review, 13(5), 407–424.
Chatman, Elfreda A. (1996). The impoverished life-world of outsiders. Journal of the American Society for Information Science., 47(3), 193–206.
Dervin, B. (1983). An overview of Sense-Making research; concepts, methods and results to date. A paper presented at the International Communication Association Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas, May 1983 (unpublished manuscript).
Kuhlthau, C.C. (1988). Developing a model of the library search process: cognitive and affective aspects. Reference Quarterly, 28(2), 232-242
Cite this article in APA as: Hartel, J. Learn information behavior (1980s style!) (2023, August 24). Information Matters, Vol. 3, Issue 8. https://informationmatters.org/2023/08/learn-information-behavior-1980s-style/