The SIM spring convocation ceremony is taking place on Thursday, June 2nd. Six of our Master of Information (MI) graduates completed a thesis. The breadth and variety of topics illustrate the interdisciplinary nature of the MI degree, and of the information science field in general. Read more about three of the theses below.
Jordan Audas: “The price of glass slippers: Folklore, intellectual property, and neoliberalism” (full details)
This research presents a theoretical framework to illustrate the way that individualism facilitates the exploitation of communal goods, particularly in connection with the commodification of folklore present in neoliberal society. Although contemporary folklorists understand folklore as the product of mutually sharing traditions – a peer-to-peer and collaborative process which continuously evolves through community participation – the insertion and prioritization of the individual by historical folklore collectors, copyright law, and neoliberal ideology functions to transform the creation and dissemination of folklore into an individual’s intellectual property. Historical folktale collectors made it possible to copyright folklore, to fix these tales and songs to a singular author figure; what started with a desire to protect national heritage by “saving” the last remaining products of the folk was quickly transformed by the copyright industry into an income generation tool. The positioning of the individual above the community in the folklore process serves the purpose of copyright, a system designed to reward the author figure, the solitary and individual genius, and coincides with the ideology of neoliberalism, which places further emphasis on the individual, validating the increase of protection of physical and intellectual property through privatization and commodification. The prioritization of the individual makes it possible for folklore to be bought, sold, or traded – just as any other commodity. This research was made possible through a generous grant of $17,500 by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), based on a successful application to the 2021 Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s competition (CGS M).
Poppy Riddle: “Visualizing Keyword Co-occurrence from Two Queries to Aid Exploratory Search” (full details)
Click here to read a full profile about Poppy
I have been researching the intersection of bibliometrics and information visualization as I am interested in how searching for information can be improved and if visualization provides a better way to search through and find what you are looking for. My thesis investigated a method of information visualization comparing keyword co-occurrence between two database queries to address the challenges of current discovery systems in academic settings. Its purpose was to illustrate how search terms have keyword exclusions that are unique to each and may inform the user of work might be missed or what might refine future searches. Results suggest that while some keywords are co-occurring and linked, there are exclusive keywords that may impact an information seeker’s desired topic and may provide valuable information to support decision making in their exploratory search process. Interpretation of results using heuristic analysis suggests this visualization would present more benefits to the information seeker as an interactive visualization than a static one. The outcomes of my thesis may be implemented by an academic librarian with beginner level Python programming experience. Future work will include advancing this concept to an interactive visualization for evaluation, and exploring other ways to visually map information, including using 3D and VR. My goal is to continue researching and developing ways in which we interact with large amounts of diverse information, which is easy to us, and might even be fun. This research received funding from Coalition Publica ($5500) for support of this work.
Lisa Olson: “Plague Discourse: Political, Religious, and Medical Publications in England, 1603–1666” (full details)
The plague pandemic known as the Black Death reached the shores of England in 1348 and went on to kill around 30–40 percent of England’s citizens. Following the Black Death, the disease became endemic in England, and continued to bedevil the country for another three hundred years. While the seventeenth century saw England’s last plague epidemic, it also saw some of its worst, experiencing major outbreaks in 1603, 1625, 1636, and 1665. During this time, citizens looked to the political, religious, and medical realms for answers to their questions and various authoritative figures answered through print. The century also saw an increase in the quantity, popularity, and accessibility of printed texts in England and society became increasingly equipped to process the influx of texts concerning the illness. These texts, therefore, likely shaped many citizens understanding of the plague. Using qualitative discourse analysis and historical research, as well as quantitative content analysis, this thesis examines a sample of texts from the political, religious, and medical spheres to gain insight into the information being conveyed to the public about the plague at this time and discover how the discourse of these three spheres coexisted. The findings of this study offer insight into the relationships between the political, religious, and medical spheres and how they were affected by plague between 1603 and 1666. They also provide timely insight into responses to widespread health emergencies, such as the current (2019–2022) coronavirus pandemic.