Controlling the urge to search: Studying the informational texture of practices by exploring the missing element

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This paper examines situations in which people restrict themselves in order to control their online searching and how this is negotiated. It is framed in a sociomaterial perspective taking account of the entanglement of information technology with its users and the conditions of its use. It contributes to a conceptual discussion of the sociomaterial shaping of the informational texture of issues and practices and of how online search is entangled across practices and situations.
The paper draws on empirical material from 21 focus groups with 127 participants carried out in Sweden 2014 and 2015.
The focus group conversations were transcribed and analysed using qualitative content analysis to establish returning themes. The present analysis cuts across these themes by tracing anecdotes of failed or restricted searches.
The following issues are discussed: notions of self-control to avoid surveillance, search as a 'conversation killer', as posing a risk for learning something unwelcome, of how not to be able to form the question, and of how to relate to being offline.
The paper closes with a question joining methodological and theoretical concerns: How can we study identifiable information activities and objects as enmeshed across practices, while still considering their specific character as information activities?
Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventThe Nineth International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science (CoLIS) - Uppsala Univerity, Uppsala, Sweden
Duration: 2016 Jun 272016 Jun 29

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Information Studies


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