08 Jun

on needing to know and information experience

I have this obsessive need to understand the things I fear. When I’m worried about or scared of something, I go looking for information. I find as much as I can and I take it all in and I digest it and I see the thing from all the angles. Then it’s not a mystery. There isn’t any chance I’m going to stumble on something unexpected and terrible because I’ve seen under and around and over the thing. If there’s something terrible there, it won’t sneak up on me because I will have found it before it’s had a chance to find me.

As an information experience researcher, I’m interested in understanding how people experience information in their everyday lives. It’s kind of interesting to inspect my own practices in the way I would inspect those of a participant in a research study. If I was naming this thing that I do, I would probably call it something like ‘coping by knowing’.

It’s a control thing really. Knowing what the possibilities are gives me some sense of control in situations in which I really have none. Knowing is almost as good as controlling.

I know other people whose modus operandi is to put blinkers on, but blinkers seem to me to be the worst possible way to deal with my fear or worry. What makes some people choose blinkers? What drives others, like me, to visit Dr Google and trawl Wikipedia?

I wonder whether I do it because I’m a librarian and an information researcher, or whether my grandfather started it by encouraging me to research *everything*, or whether I Google everything simply because I have the web in my hand all the time. Or whether ‘needing to know’ is just how I am.

Blog every day in June 6/30

2 thoughts on “on needing to know and information experience

  1. You are not alone in this. I love the term coping by knowing. I do this all the time and not just for things I fear. E.g. tomorrow we are taking Miss A to Lollipops indoor play centre with her cousins. I have never been there before but I have been to a different one, I have seen photos and Mr A had already told me it would be open on the public holiday but I had to look up their website myself. To make sure, to see what it looked like. Just so I know what to expect. Anytime I am going somewhere new or experiencing something different I have to look up a website or something about it. Now you have me thinking, how did I cope before the Internet?

  2. I don’t know what we did pre-Internet. But I Google *everything* – like you, I check places out before I go there, especially while traveling… In some ways I think there is extra stress now because I’m so used to being connected that it’s a real problem when I’m not. It’s like my coping mechanism disappears.

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