Why bother to share information for little visible return? Publication in press with Information Research

Talking to imagined citizens? Information sharing practices and proxies for e-participation in hyperlocal democratic settings has recently been accepted for publication in Information Research.

This work is concerned with the extent to which existing models of information sharing based on the tenets of exchange are applicable across a full range of contexts. Specifically, in this paper, Peter Cruickshank and I deploy an information sharing practice-based approach to explore the means by which hyperlocal representatives in Scotland handle their information sharing roles, and how they address their relationships with online ‘lurker’ audiences.

Based on the analysis of data collected in interviews with 19 Scottish community councillors, we establish from our study that information sharing is regarded as an important duty of these hyperlocal representatives, and one that is practised largely as transmission or broadcast (rather than exchange) using a variety of channels. These efforts are, however, limited. This is due to restricted resources, a lack of familiarity with the information users (and non-users), and poor knowledge of tools for analysing online audiences. The attitudes of community councillors towards their lurker audiences vary from frustration to resignation.

While some of the findings from the study articulate with extant knowledge (and extend it further), others contradict the results of prior research, e.g. on online platforms as deliberative spaces. The practice-based approach adopted in the study has surfaced new contributions on proxies in information sharing. Amongst these, we add to prior work on information seeking by proxy, notably in the introduction of the concept of information sharing by proxy.

The full citation for this paper is Cruickshank, P. & Hall, H. (2020 in press). Talking to imagined citizens? Information sharing practices and proxies for e-participation in hyperlocal democratic settings. Information Research. It is accessible as a full text pdf file from the Edinburgh Napier repository.

Paper co-authors Hazel Hall and Peter Cruickshank

Paper co-authors Hazel Hall & Peter Cruickshank

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