Kickstarting creativity: Supporting the productive faces of uncertainty in information practice

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Information Research, 2010, 15 (4)
Issue Date:
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Introduction. Examines implications of research suggesting fast access to information may reduce the time needed for creative thinking and reflection. To support human thought through information provision, more opportunities to experience and work with imperfect information and to engage with ambiguities are needed. Method. Four linked arguments are presented: (i) working through uncertainty and ambiguity is conducive to creativity; (ii) the time and effort associated with managing information can be detrimental to creative thought; (iii) in scholarly research there is increasingly less time to think; (iv) revisiting the concept of uncertainty in information seeking offers a creativity stimulation pathway. Analysis. Ethnographic data about scholarly research practice and judgments about information in that context are used to illustrate some of the claims made. Results. Respondents were as likely to find information on the Internet as from doctors, although several reported that they had no access to these resources. Many used the information they found to look after themselves or someone else, to decide whether to seek assistance from a professional and/or to make treatment decisions. A significant proportion of women reported that they did not discuss with a doctor the information they found. Conclusions. Developing an awareness of and being in uncertainty is a critical condition in any creative endeavour.
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