Academic Studies into Information More Important Than Ever Now

By Hughes, Lorna | The Scotsman, September 7, 2017 | Go to article overview

Academic Studies into Information More Important Than Ever Now


Hughes, Lorna, The Scotsman


I n an age of fake news and uncertainty about what media can be trusted, academic research into information studies is more important than ever. The University of Glasgow has been at the forefront of this research for over 30 years and is holding a major international symposium to celebrate its international reputation in this field.

Information Studies in the University of Glasgow is the only academic unit in the UK which offers Masters' level and accredited professional qualifications in museum, archive and library, and digital humanities fields, and it has led the development of professional training in all areas. At the heart of this activity lies digital methods, and Information Studies has fully embraced and driven forward the sector's engagement with the opportunities associated with this key area.

The University of Glasgow's achievements in this field are based on its close collaboration with archives, libraries and museums. These institutions hold the evidence of the past, and they collect and make available the record of what it is to be human. Individual items in collections are important to shaping our knowledge of the past and our contemporary society, but understanding how these collections are developed, managed, and made accessible is equally important in assessing the value of these materials as evidence.

Increasingly, cultural heritage is accessible in digital form. While this is valuable for increasing access to collections previously only available to those able to visit the organisations that host them, and for analysis and reanalysis of sources (doing data analysis of text in historic newspapers, or visual recognition of images, for example), this material can also be used in support of false or misleading agendas: fake news.

Understanding how information is created, used and managed is more important than ever in a 'post-truth' world: where has it come from? How was it selected? How is it preserved and accessed? Who owns the past, and who is collecting our records for the future? Amateur data managers are currently archiving US datasets relating to climate data and web-archives of the pre-2017 White House; social media platforms are used for organising and campaigning. How do we verify, audit and preserve historic data and protect it from political interference? There is more need than ever for open data and systems for sharing data and futureproofing data, protecting trusted data, and providing frameworks for data rescue. And for understanding co-creation and com-and incorporating external, activist voices into the creation, management and use of information. These are the underpinning research questions that drive scholarship in Information Studies. …

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