Continuities and discontinuities: using historical information culture for insight into the sustainability of innovations

Fiorella Foscarini, Charles Jeurgens, Zhiying Lian, Gillian Oliver

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The analysis of information cultures of the past can provide insight into the likelihood of sustainability of innovative information practices, and can help design sustainable information strategies for the future. This article focuses on three instances of innovation in three different parts of the world – namely, Italy, China, and the Netherlands – in the 1930s, a time period that was characterized by political unrest and significant societal changes in all three locations. Genres, workarounds, and infrastructure are used as diagnostic indicators to demonstrate the utility of an information culture model which distinguishes cultural factors according to their susceptibility to change. The three case studies discussed in this article not only shed light on continuities and discontinuities in information practices over time; they also show the complexities of successfully changing specific existing information attitudes. The ultimate goal of this article is to illustrate the benefits of conducting comparative and longitudinal research on historical information cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainable Digital Communities
Subtitle of host publication15th International Conference, iConference 2020 Boras, Sweden, March 23–26, 2020 Proceedings
EditorsAnneli Sundqvist, Gerd Berget, Jan Nolin, Kjell Ivar Skjerdingstad
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9783030436872
ISBN (Print)9783030436865
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventiConference 2020 - Boras, Sweden
Duration: 23 Mar 202026 Mar 2020
Conference number: 15th (Website) (Proceedings)

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferenceiConference 2020
Abbreviated titleiConference 2020
Internet address


  • Information cultures
  • Genres
  • Workarounds
  • Infrastructure

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