The fragmentation of facts and infrastructural meaning-making: New demands on information literacy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction. This paper presents a theory-driven discussion on the role of facts in society, couched between a brief historical overview and a discussion of the contemporary situation, exemplified in particular by openly available web-based fact services. Implications for the conceptualisation of information literacy – and in particular information literacy in relation to today’s dominant algorithmic information infrastructure – are considered throughout.
Method. This is a conceptual paper where theoretical reasoning is accompanied by examples from a small empirical material. This material consists of the use and observation of three web-based fact services as well as expert interviews with three producers and one user of one of the services. In particular Hannah Arendt’s essay “Truth and politics” is drawn on to contextualise and understand the role of facts in society.
Results. The web-based fact services investigated here facilitate and describe the creation of facts based on open data in a rather traditional way, i.e. by providing references and pointing to sources. However, the established facts are then inserted into today’s networked information landscape, which is an arena for competing knowledge claims working according to the market’s principles of popularity, and this leads to conflicting situations and poses new demands on information literacy.
Conclusions. This paper suggests the need for a view of information literacy that accounts for infrastructural meaning-making at the same time as it enables the political dimensions of the way in which facts and factual information are created and valued in contemporary society to be taken seriously.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbercolis1923
JournalInformation Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventConceptions of Library and Information Science. : 10th international conference - Department of Library and Information Science and Book Studies at Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana , Ljubljana, Slovenia
Duration: 2019 Jun 162019 Jun 19
Conference number: 10

Bibliographical note

Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science, Ljubljana, Slovenia, June 16-19, 2019

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Information Studies

Free keywords

  • information literacy
  • facts


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