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iSquares: A New Approach to Information Research and Education Webinar

This webinar introduces an arts-informed, visual approach to engage the concept of information afresh: the draw-and-write technique. Human subjects are asked to answer the question "What is information?" in the form of a drawing, generating a compact piece of visual data coined an "iSquare" ( The webinar instructor, Dr. Jenna Hartel of the University of Toronto, has used the method to explore how people envision information (Hartel, in press, 2013a, 2013b). She also applies the approach in classrooms to help students, especially newcomers, theorize information (Hartel, 2014). Whether employed as a research method or pedagogical strategy, iSquares bring information science into the visual Information Age and create a richer multimedia genealogy for our central concept. The goal of the webinar is to help other information scholars and professionals experiment with arts-informed, visual methods and iSquares, specifically. First, the webcast outlines the theoretical framework, research design, and data-gathering specifications to produce iSquares for the purposes of information research. Then the session provides classroom activities and assignments to utilize iSquares for information education. The webinar also marks the launch of a website that displays the corpus of images gathered thus far (n=400 and growing). Click here for a webinar overview.


Jenna Hartel
Dr. Jenna Hartel is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. Her research explores the nature of information in the pleasures of life (Kari & Hartel, 2007) through concatenated research into serious leisure (Hartel, 2003, 2010). She is an ethnographer and advocate of arts-informed, visual methods (Hartel & Thomson, 2011; Hartel, et al., 2012) for the study of information. Her work has been reported in JASIS&T, Journal of Documentation, and Information Research, among other channels. Dr. Hartel says, "My work aims to be an imaginative, energetic, and committed form of intervention in the field of information science. To that end, my ideas are expressed and packaged in non-standard forms of presentation that are playful and accessible to all. I hope to be a catalyst, endeavoring to inspire the field of information science to explore new areas, import new methods, and break out of traditional boxes." One examplar intervention is the panel series, "Metatheoretical Snowmen"(Hartel, 2009, Hartel, et al., 2011, Hartel, 2012;) and another is the iSquare project at hand. Dr. Hartel has been a member of ASIS&T since beginning her doctoral studies in 2001; she is a frequent presenter at the ASIS&T Annual Meeting and a member of SIG-USE and SIG-FIS.