This is the current introduction to the literature review I have written in preparation for my comprehensive exams and as a step toward the dissertation proposal. It includes the questions my dissertation will address and an overview of the relationships between topics covered in the review and my questions.
(This monster is currently 138 single-spaced, 11pt type pages. That doesn’t include the bibliography, which shows that I have cited 568 separate sources. I feel somewhat proud of that number, even as I find it horrifying. I am about to begin slashing and burning through this paper, cutting out all the far-too-detailed and only-loosely relevant things I included in the sections as I wrote them separately. That should make it much more reasonable.)
In this review, I discuss some of the literature relevant to my proposed study of how amateur art photographers make decisions about managing the information and artifacts gathered and created in their serious leisure pursuit. This includes examination of the information systems and structures amateur art photographers have developed to support the management of said information and artifacts, how they make sense of the task of managing these, how their current strategies have developed, and whether they have strategies for the long term keeping of their photography-related “stuff.”
In the first section, I situate the proposed study in library and information science (LIS) by relating it to other work on information behavior in everyday contexts. Approaching information behavior in the everyday foregrounds some special aspects of information behavior that I will identify and attend to in the proposed research. Finally I use the framework of the Serious Leisure Perspective to define my population of interest based upon their approach to photography as a leisure activity.
Managing the information and artifacts related to the activity of photography is a form of information organization, so the middle sections of the review are concerned with different aspects of the organization of information. I assume that the main type of information/artifact created and organized in the activity of photography is the photograph, so I begin by looking at the organization of images. This includes discussion of the attributes used for image organization by institutions, how individual people organize their photos, and how these two approaches are colliding in new methods of online photo sharing. One’s collection of photographs and other photography-related information comprises a personal information collection, so I next cover the literature of personal information management (PIM) and show how my proposed work will extend our knowledge of PIM practice.
So far the scope of information organization discussed has mainly been at the individual level, but next I will move to examine two broader approaches to the topic. First I review theories of categorization and classification structures in cognition. These theories attempt to explain the cognitive organization of humans in general and do not attend to the individual. They are of interest here because how we think about our collections of information is likely to have affect how we manage those collections. Also, we use information structures, systems, and artifacts to extend our cognitive abilities. While not directly related to the questions asked in the proposed study, these topics are often referenced in the LIS literature on information organization, providing focus for analysis and ideas for new questions to explore.
Finishing off the review of information organization, I look at the general LIS literature on information organization. This section begins with how we define the processes of categorization and classification, and how our ideas on these activities have followed the same general trend as theories of cognitive categorization. The scope of the topic is then narrowed from the idea of universal classification, moving first to disciplines and domains and then to smaller groups who coalesce around work. Finally I come back to the topic of the individual, by looking at how some information organization systems and tools have been based upon or informed by the information organization behavior of individuals.
After this exploration of the topic of information organization from a variety of viewpoints, I return to my overall questions:
• From the amateur digital photographer’s point of view, what information and artifacts does s/he find, create, keep, and organize or manage?
• What structures or systems has s/he created to manage them?
• Has s/he made changes to these systems and structures over the course of an amateur digital photography career? If so, how did s/he decide it was time for a change and how did s/he navigate the decisions involved in implementing that change?
• Does s/he have strategies for the long-term keeping of photography related information and artifacts? If so, how has s/he arrived at them? If not, why?
The last section of the review is about the Sense-Making Methodology. This approach is firmly dedicated to examining phenomena from the individual’s point of view, and understanding how s/he makes sense of stopped-situations in order to move through them. It has informed my questions and my ideas for designing a study to explore them. Finally, I will explain the parallels I see between the Sense-making model and the activities of PIM. This may provide a new way for thinking about PIM and suggest that Sense-Making may be useful in a more balanced approach to information behavior that does not solely focus on seeking and use.