Professional Digital Encyclopaedias as Socio-Technical Systems

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This paper presents on-going research on the production of knowledge in contemporary professional digital encyclopaedias. By adopting a theoretical perspective that considers the interplay of humans, non-humans and practices at the same level, it develops further a socio-technical perspective on knowledge production. Methodologically, the project involves an ethnographic study staring from two editorial sites – the Swedish Nationalencyklopedin and the Norwegian Store Norske Leksikon. The empirical material consists of participatory observations, semi-structured interviews, informal conversations, internal documents, as well as the two encyclopaedias appearance on the web, in social and legacy media. The preliminary results point to a co-existence of old and new orders of knowledge. Traditional taxonomies and formal expertise blend with social media, Google Analytics and new orders of work. The way encyclopaedias adjust to Google exemplifies, albeit in different ways, the fundamental role of ‘management by Google’ in contemporary networked society. It is concluded that digital encyclopaedias, Wikipedia as well as Nationalencyklopedin and Norwegian Store Norske Leksikon, constitute interesting arenas for investigating changing demands on the production of public knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventInternational Conference on Conceptions of Library and information Science, 2013 - Royal School of Library and Information Science, Copenhagen University, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 2013 Aug 192013 Aug 22
Conference number: 8


ConferenceInternational Conference on Conceptions of Library and information Science, 2013

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Information Studies


  • knowledge production
  • trust
  • digital encyclopaedias
  • ethnography
  • socio-technical theory
  • information studies


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