Last week I had the chance to attend a conference on the topic of ‘Information Ecology and Libraries’, held at the library of the Comenius University in Bratislava. Organised by Jela Steinerová, of the University’s department of library and information science, the meeting attracted participants from several countries.
The city of Bratislava has now entirely shaken off the gloom of its recent Soviet-bloc past, and is now certainly as attractive is its ‘big sister’, Prague, but on a smaller (and, for a first-time visitor) scale. Such a shame that getting there directly from London involves Ryanair at 06.30……
Information ecology involves the treatment of information infrastructures and environments as ecological systems; though often in a metaphorical way, rather than using the methods of ecology in a strict manner. Although the concept of information ecology was first widely publicised in the 1997 book of that name by Davenport and Prusak, the relevance of the ideas of information ecology to information science already had been established by Bonnie Nardi, Rafael Capurro and others. This conference gave a very good overview of the applicability of the idea in many contexts. Among the presentations which I found particularly interesting were those by: Barbara Moran (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA) on the search by libraries for a new ecological niche; Isto Huvila (University of Uppsala, Sweden) on social aspects of information work, and their relations to information infrastructures; and Jela Steinerová (Comenius University, Slovakia) on an analysis of the Slovakian academic information environment in ecological terms.
The abstracts of the papers can be found here, and the full proceedings are published by Comenius University (ISBN 978-80-223-3087-9).