Information and experience, a dialogue

Published date08 May 2017
Date08 May 2017
AuthorTim Gorichanaz
Information and experience,
a dialogue
Tim Gorichanaz
College of Computing and Informatics, Drexel University, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, USA
Purpose Scholars in information science have recently become interested in information experience,
but it remains largely unclear why this research is important and how it fits within the broader disciplinary
structure of information science. The purpose of this paper is to clarify this issue.
Design/methodology/approach The discussion unfolds in the form of a philosophical dialogue between
the Epistemologist, who represents the traditional and majority epistemological viewpoint of information
science, and the Aestheticist, representing the emerging paradigm of experiential information inquiry.
Findings A framework emerges that recognizes dual conceptualizations of truth (veritas and aletheia) and
consequently information and knowledge (gnostic and pathic). The epistemic aim of understanding is
revealed as the common ground between epistemology and aesthetics.
Originality/value The value of studying human experiences of information is grounded in work spanning
philosophy, psychology and a number of social science methodologies, and it is contextualized within
information science generally. Moreover, the dialogic format of this paper presents an opportunity for
disciplinary self-reflection and offers a touch of heart to the field.
Keywords Cognition, Philosophy, Aesthetics, Literature, Experience, Epistemology, Phenomenology,
Philosophy of Information
Paper type Conceptual paper
On the heels of calls for further research into the outcomes of information seeking (Case and
OConnor, 2016; Kari, 2007), scholars within information science have, in recent years,
become interested in information experience (Bruce et al., 2014; Latham, 2014). However,
it remains unclear how research into information experience fits within the broader
disciplinary structure of information science and consequently how findings from
information experience can further the aims of information science.
This paper seeks to clarify what is meant by experienceby drawing on perspectives
from the philosophy of aesthetics, defined as the study of embodied meaning-making
( Johnson, 2007), as well as the human-scientific mode of inquiry known as phenomenology
of practice (Van Manen, 2014). Based on Heideggers (1998) bifurcation of the concept of
truth as veritas (factuality) on one hand and aletheia (uncovering) on the other, it is proposed
that the study of human experience searches for truth as aletheia and affords pathic
(emotional, inceptual) knowledge, whereas traditional modes of research in information
science search for truth as veritas and afford gnostic (cognitive, conceptual) knowledge.
From this framework springs a discussion of the value of researching human experience
within information science and specific methodological approaches for doing so.
This discussion is developed in the philosophical tradition of dialogue-based inquiry.
In this discussion, the Epistemologist represents the traditional and majority epistemological
viewpoint of information science, while the Aestheticist represents the emerging paradigm
of experiential information inquiry. In keeping with the themes under discussion,this format
allows the communicative meaning to inhere viscerally, giving space for the reader to reflect
Journal of Documentation
Vol. 73 No. 3, 2017
pp. 500-508
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/JD-09-2016-0114
Received 28 September 2016
Revised 12 December 2016
Accepted 15 December 2016
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
The author is grateful to Deborah Turner for pushing him, to Bhuva Narayan for encouraging him, and
to Jenna Hartel for inspiring him. The author is also grateful to David Bawden for his visionary
research and editorial work.

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