"It Isn't All about You": The Management of ICT and Non-ICT Information Resources via Human Information Behaviour
"Applications that gather dust... Technologies no one understands... Information that's ignored... [thus, there is still very much a need to] pay attention to Information behaviour" (Davenport, 1997, p.2). Human Information Behaviour is as important a concept today as it has ever been, as there are still millions of dollars going into improving information technology. While information seeking behaviour has been rigorously studied over the years, information use has not received the same attention. Neither has the IT artefact or choice of such technologies at the hands of users of information. This research paper aims to produce a taxonomy of the information use behaviours and ICT and non-ICT resource use of IT academics through a qualitative study involving both observation (incorporating thinking aloud) and structured face-to-face interview techniques. The research question asks "How do IT Academics manage the integration between various Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and non-ICT sources to support their information behaviours (IB) and, therefore, achieve their desired outcome? We observed and interviewed six IT academics carrying out their normal working activities, looking into actual information events as they occurred, information outcomes, information behaviours, and the technologies used by academics in their daily interactions with information. We developed a systems model, informed by activity theory, to frame the discussion. What was uncovered by the study was a tendency for academics to converge on a single technology - that of the laptop. This together with email was what academics tended to prefer to use, both at the office and in their homes; a surprising find as it was assumed that there would be a plethora of different ICTs in use. We found that technologies contributed to a blurring of the work/life equilibrium for many academics. Academics did exhibit a wide range of behaviours in their laptop and email use. Many of them were relatively unproductive, and involved moving information from one place, or one form to another, and finally ending in deletion rather than active use. Many of our interviewees reflected a need to use their time wisely through time management, and the impact of email on time management. These results also yielded the justification of Activity Theory which was used in the study, and of the systems framework which was constructed for the study. The study also confirmed the importance of environmental influences on academic's working lives, which tended to create a somewhat cyclic nature to their information events. Overall, it was not clear that patterns of use of ICTs contributed to effective information use behaviour by IT academics.