Professor Naresh Agarwal

  • International keynote speaker: Naresh Agarwal is an Associate Professor at the School of Library & Information Science at Simmons University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Naresh’s research area is information behavior and knowledge management. His recent book ‘Exploring Context in Information Behavior: Seeker, situation, surroundings, and shared identities’ was published by Morgan & Claypool. Naresh looks at the way people look for information and the contextual factors that impact their choice of information sources. He seeks to understand and synthesize the apparent contradictions in this phenomenon and tries to reconcile multiple perspectives. Naresh also studies serendipitous information encountering and the causes and effects — both on the recipient and the sender — of information avoidance behaviors, especially by people who call and text using smartphones and social media. He has been a keynote/invited speaker at workshops and conferences in different countries, including in the U.S., Japan, France, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Naresh has held various leadership positions at the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T). He was a member of its Board of Directors, Co-Chaired its Annual Meeting in 2017, and was awarded the ASIS&T James M. Cretsos Leadership Award in 2012.
  • For more information, please refer to: http://web.simmons.edu/~agarwal
Keynote speech: Naresh Agarwal. The many meanings of Context: Can we arrive at a shared understanding?

Information seekers, service providers and system designers often lack the full context of a person’s information need. The context may vary based on several factors such as personal characteristics, the task at hand or the situation, source characteristics, etc. Yet researchers have yet to agree on what context really means. While there have been various research studies incorporating context, as well as the ISIC conferences over the years, there lacks a common definition of what context is, what its boundaries are, and what elements and variables comprise context. Does the context create the situation in which the actor engages in information behavior, or does the actor ‘produce’ the context at the point of interaction? Drawing from his book on Context, Dr. Agarwal will attempt to map the conceptual space of context in information behavior. He will discuss the differing conceptual understandings of context, the contextual elements identified in prior studies, and how the two can relate to each other. Can the Contextual Identity Framework provide some of the answers? The talk should help the audience appreciate how by working towards a shared understanding of context, we can better support information seekers, as well as new and established researchers.

Professor Gunilla Widén

  • International keynote speaker: Gunilla Widén is professor of Information Studies, Åbo Akademi University, Finland and docent in Information Management at the University of Tampere, Finland. Gunilla Widén is head of the library programme at Åbo Akademi University with the responsibility to educate librarians and information experts for future careers. The department has also a new international master’s programme focusing on the governance of digitalization. Gunilla does research in the area of information behaviour, information literacy, and knowledge management. Her current project is The Impact of Information Literacy in the Digital Workplace (DiWIL), funded by the Academy of Finland (2016-20). Other ongoing projects are focusing on youth information behaviour, e.g. two Erasmus+ KA strategic projects developing and promoting youth information services. Currently, she is also actively involved in developing research networks on refugees’ information practices on Nordic and European levels and is one of the initiators of the MaRIS network (Migrant and Refugee Information Studies). She has used both quantitative and qualitative methods in her studies and lately focused on the possibility to use big data analysis in library context and lead a project on Big Cities meet Big Data, as part of the City of Turku Research Programme. She has published widely in her areas of expertise and is a member of a number of editorial boards in the LIS and information management field. Gunilla has been active in the university field and been engaged in a number of commissions of trust, such as a member of the Åbo Akademi University board, the advisory board of the new Helsinki Central Library, the board of the Central Archives for Finnish Business Records, and the European Network for Workplace Information Research (ENWI). She is a honoured member of the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, Section of Social Sciences, since 2016. Gunilla is currently a member of the ISIC Steering Committee.
  • For more information, please refer to: https://research.abo.fi/converis/portal/Person/541187
Keynote speech: Infodemic – the challenges of making sense of information disorder and what is the cure?

“Infodemic” is a concept used to describe excessive amount of information concerning a problem so that it becomes even more difficult to find the solution. In February 2020, the term was used by the World Health Organization to refer to the spread of mostly false information about the COVID-19 outbreak, making a balanced communication about the epidemic really challenging. Mis- and disinformation is nothing new, and has always been part of our information environment, underlining the importance of critical thinking and information literacy. However, with the development of social technology and social media, the amount of information, mis- and disinformation included, has increased to the extent that we quickly lose track when navigating different information sources. The COVID-19 outbreak is a frightening example of that development. We need several actors and inter-disciplinary research to fight the “infodemic”. How can information behaviour research contribute to a better understanding of the ongoing information disorder? What kind of research do we need in this area? This keynote will present ongoing and current research about information practices in times of crisis, discuss the implications, and outline ways to address the key challenges in future research.

Professor Archie Dick

Prof Archie Dick, the Head of Department, from the Department of Information Science at the University of Pretoria
  • Local keynote speaker: Professor Archie L Dick is Head of the Department of Information Science, and Chairperson of the School of Information Technology at the University of Pretoria. He is an internationally acclaimed researcher, and was a visiting professor at Wayne State University, the George A. Miller Endowment Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Centre for the History of Print and Digital Culture. He was a Deputy Chairperson of the IFLA committee of Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression, and Chairperson of the National Council of Library and Information Services in South Africa. His articles have been translated into Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. Archie’s path-breaking book The Hidden History of South Africa’s Book and Reading Cultures was published by the University of Toronto Press and the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal Press, and placed on the long list for the Alan Paton literary award for non-fiction. The British Academy funds his most recent research, and a forthcoming book will be published by Cambridge University Press.
  • For more information, please refer to: https://www.up.ac.za/information-science/article/1913385/prof-a-l-dick
Keynote speech: Archie L Dick. South Africa’s Long Walk to Information Freedom

It was a librarian that informed the United States ambassador in South Africa about Nelson Mandela’s imminent release. This led to a telephone call from George Bush senior to congratulate him just before his first speech in Cape Town as a free man. Mandela was immediately included on an exclusive global information network of world leaders that Bush briefed regularly on important issues. Librarians and information activists in South Africa’s prisons and townships had learned how to distinguish between true and fake news during the liberation struggle. This paper provides a brief historical overview of the oppressive information regime that they resisted and undermined. Insights from their experiences and from Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom provide some information lessons for a post-truth era.