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

University of Sheffield
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Information Research, 2010, 15 (4), pp. 1 - 16
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This paper examines implications of research suggesting fast access to information may be at the expense of the time needed for creative thinking and reflection. It suggests that to support human thought through the provision of information, we need to provide people with more opportunities to experience and work with imperfect information and to engage with ambiguities. The paper presents four linked arguments supporting the premise that making more space for uncertainty and ambiguity in our information and research practices is an important precondition for creativity and innovation in any human endeavour: (i) working through uncertainty and ambiguity is conducive to creativity; (ii) the time and effort associated with managing large quantities of information can have a detrimental impact on creative thought; (iii) in scholarly research practice there is increasingly less time to think; (iv) revisiting the concept of uncertainty in information seeking offers a creativity stimulation pathway. In presenting these arguments and the implications for information science, the paper draws on ethnographic data about scholarly research practice and judgments about information in that context to illustrate some of the claims made. It concludes that developing an awareness of and being in uncertainty is a critical condition in any creative endeavour. Article is available at
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