Critical – Transformational – Intersubjective

Remember, these pages are deliberately brief and intended mainly as quick references. The Prezicasts give more detail.

Prezicast: Follow this link for the online version of the Prezicast on Intersubjective Values.Remember that the offline version is in the course Dropbox. If you want advice on how to use and view the Prezicasts, see the full listing.

Way of valuing information: Intersubjective, through collectively-determined criteria which may be negotiated on the spot but more often are embedded into laws, morals, strategic visions, etc. Note these do not have the status of scientific ‘truth’, even if their adherents will often claim for them this kind of objective value; particularly in the case of certain items of legislation, items of faith and items of ‘common sense’. Nevertheless, they remain social constructions, and are thus neither subjective nor objective. They exist in the spaces between people, where we communicate: in what has been called the ‘noösphere’ or ‘lifeworld’.

Road block, Conservative party conference, Manchester, 3/10/11
An image tells a thousand words. The reason it can do so is because of shared understandings about symbols, history, politics: whatever your political affiliation, the message is clear. It is because of these shared understandings that we can communicate in the first place. Thus, these are essential aspects of our relationship with information..

View of science (see Fay, 1975): Critical. Information is sought in order that things can be changed through debate, negotiation, collective enquiry, etc.

Practice: Transformational. Marx famously said: “Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point is to change it.” We may inform ourselves all we like about why, say, a particular work practice is not working very well, a technology is undesirable, a course of action is unwise: but unless we change things, the learning is limited. And change means communicating insights to others.

Level: The meso-level, the level of organisations and communities.

Structures of support: These kinds of values are embedded throughout our organisations, communities, cultures and (remember the social shaping thesis), technologies.

Form of literacy (Egan 1990): Emergent.

Keyword: Transforming.

Frames of information literacy (Bruce, Lupton and Edwards 2006): Social impact and relational frames. Remember, these frames are where the support structures and practices of each side of the triad are enacted and taught. Communicating insights and transforming practice requires publication (and literacy has always connoted both the ability to read and write – to consume, but also to produce). Thus, the information literate actor must be aware of publication and the subsequent social impact of information. In the relational frame, all the other frames of IL are brought together.

Pathology if omitted: Relativism. Read the extract from chapter 7 of Information Obesity on the triadic model introduction page, and see the passage about the poisoner on pp. 115-116. This sort of activity would not be seen as undesirable with reference only  to the subjective realm (because the poisoner has decided he is going to do it) and the objective realm (because there is plenty of useful (to him) scientific data on the effects of certain nerve gases, and how to make them). There must therefore be reference to laws and morals. A less drastic example: data that is gathered and used to decide on a course of action by an employee must inevitably be judged at least partly against known organisational values, strategies, budgets, chains of command… These become cognitive authorities. Not all of these may be consciously known, but that does not matter – the employee is not entirely free to make judgments based purely on their own preferences.

Return to the triadic model introduction

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Media and Information Literacy by Andrew Whitworth/University of Manchester is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

One comment

  1. Magnificent web site. A lot of helpful info here.
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