Thursday, 28 November 2013

Am I bovered, though?

There have been a few rumours flying around that Thomson Reuters, who own the well-known database 'Web of Knowledge,' were going to withdraw the contents of their database from Primo Central - known to you and I as the 'Articles & more' quick search in Library Search - and other aggregator services such as Summon and Ebsco.

Without trying to denigrate Web of Knowledge at all, my response to this was "Do I look bovered?"  The fact is that most (if not all) the content would still be included from other sources (Elsevier, JSTOR, etc), so it would make little difference. 

In any case, for most of the subjects I support, the existing 'Articles & more' (with or without Web of Knowledge) is of dubious benefit, and I prefer to direct students either to an alternative aggregator (namely Google Scholar) or (and this is my preference) to good quality specialist databases - namely Proquest Art databases, JSTOR, or Art Full Text, or FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals.

The reason for Thomson Reuter's apparent hesitancy with regard to aggregated search was said to be that they wanted users to use their interface as their primary search environment for authoritative search.  And I can see why.  Web of Knowledge is unique amongst multidisciplinary databases in that their principal feature is how few, rather than how many journals it indexes.  They pride themselves on quality, and exclusivity.  In the sciences in particular, this is a great advantage, making this a leading databases in science - and in particular for systematic reviews.

Within the arts and humanities, Web of Knowledge, is used much less frequently, despite there being a specific index for arts & humanities (the Arts & Humanities Citation Index).  This currently indexes only 82 art journals (I think only three of these are specific to photography) and only 33 journals in the areas of film, radio and TV.  So, quite limited;  however, as these are reckoned to be  the most influential journals in the relevant field (by the panel appointed by Web of Science to decide these things) it is worth looking to see which are the chosen journals.

Subsequent to the rumours, Web of Science has issued a statement confirming that they are in fact not withdrawing their records from Primo Central.  They have also announced that they will be collaborating with Google Scholar to provide seamless movement to and from Web of Knowledge, which will be interesting (and might help revitalise both).  This is a neat collaboration given that an early article setting out the principles of Google’s algorithm back in 1998, cited Eugene Garfield - founder of ISI, who originally developed Web of Knowledge.

Web of Knowledge will also be launching a new interface early next year, which should make searching their current - rather difficult - interface easier.  I look forward to it.

Web of Knowledge
Search Web of ScienceSM
Copyright 2010 Thomson Reuters   

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Pictorial works - subject headings

This is a little tip for you.  The standard subject heading used by libraries for books of pictures is "pictorial works."  This seems logical enough; however, few people would use this as a search term when looking for photography, and would therefore miss out on some books.

If you are looking for books with photographs of Britain, try searching for "pictorial works" AND Britain (as well as the more intuitive photography AND Britain).  It is important to do this, as the catalogue record for books of photographs sometimes do not refer to 'photographs' or 'photography' at all but do use the term "pictorial works"!

As an example, compare the results for these two searches (I have used the subject field in advanced search for these examples):

petroleum AND photography

petroleum AND pictorial works

The first 'obvious' query retrieves two results; but the second less obvious query retrieves two additional results.

You could argue that this is just poor cataloguing; and you might be right.  Certainly, Edward Burtynsky's monumental book, Oil, ought to include additional subject headings, including ones related to photography.  (You can see a fuller record on COPAC here). However, the broader point is that in order to search catalogues effectively, it helps to understand the language that they use to describe resources - particularly in the subject fields.  

After all, it is not only 'pictorial works' which is a non-intuitive term, but also 'petroleum.'  Search for oil AND photography or oil AND pictorial works and your results are even more unsatisfactory.

Enjoyment is our duty

I've recently watched Slavoj Zizek's new film, The Pevert's Guide to Ideology, which has just come into the library.  Like it's predecessor, The Pervert's Guide to Cinema, this is a cinematic thesis which draws from Zizek's writing, and uses films as points of illustration and analysis. Although I sometimes felt his argument jumped around a bit, and I was left wondering how some of the points he was making linked together, it was a hugely entertaining and thought-provoking film.

There were some great clips used as illustration, drawn from an eclectic mix of films, which I have listed below.  Where they are available on our TV archive, Box of Broadcasts, I have also provided links, so that, if we want, we can revisit the whole film.

A press release for the film is available in the contact section of the film's website:

They Live (1988) / John Carpenter

A Clockwork Orange (1971) / Stanley Kubrick

West Side Story (1961) / Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins [ON DVD]

Taxi Driver (1976) / Martin Scorsese

The Searchers (1956) / John Ford

Jaws (1975) / Steven Spielberg

Triumph of the Will (1935) / Leni Riefenstahl [ON DVD]

The Eternal Jew (1940) / Fritz Hippler

Cabaret (1972) / Bob Fosse

I Am Legend (2007) / Francis Lawrence

Titanic (1997) / James Cameron

The Fall of Berlin (1950) / Mikhail Chiareli

Full Metal Jacket (1987) / Stanley Kubrick

Mash (1970) / Robert Altman

If (1968) / Lindsay Anderson

The Dark Knight (2008) / Christopher Nolan [ON DVD]

The Loves of a Blonde (1965) / Milos Forman

The Fireman’s Ball (1967) / Milos Forman [ON DVD]

Brief Encounter (1945) / David Lean

Brazil (1985) / Terry Gilliam

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) / Martin Scorsese [ON DVD]

Seconds (1966) / John Frankenheimer

Zabriskie Point (1970) / Michelangelo Antonioni [VIDEOTAPE]

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Screen Resources

London Screen Archive
A significant upgrade to the LSA online catalogue is underway.  You will be able to access this from their website:

BFI Player Launched
The BFI Player provides a mix of free and pay-per-view content.  UK audiences can watch contemporary and archive films in the comfort of their own home.  Watch now at:

Other On Demand services
One of the films you can watch on the BFI player is 'The Selfish Giant' by Arbor director/writer Clio Barnard.   If you go to The Selfish Giant website, you will see a number of other On Demand sites to choose from: Curzon Home Cinema; BT; Virgin Media; EE; Film Four; Blinkbox [from Tesco]; Sky Store; Google Play; and Volta.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

What should replace Daylight?

The magazine ‘Daylight’ looks like it has ceased publication, and so there is an opportunity for us to put our subscription money (£46.57) into another publication.

What to buy?

The possible choices, as I see it, are Blind Spot ($65), or Blow (Euros 45) (both nominated for a Lucie Award this year), and Kilamanjaro (£30) or Colors ($75).  The latter two have been requested by academic in the staff in the past and I think I am veering towards Kilamanjaro.

Eyemazing is also a possibility.   However, having published for a decade, it now seems unclear whether this magazine is going to continue.  I can find no subscription information online, and the old website now links to the Thames and Hudson page for the new retrospective book.  The cost is also likely to be about double what Daylight cost, as the figure I have seen quoted is £85.

If you would like to express a preference, please email me asap.

Brief descriptions of the contenders, as I see it, are below:

Blind Spot
Blind Spot is a semi-annual art journal that publishes unseen work by living photographers. In Blind Spot, images are given primacy and published collaboratively rather than curatorially, unaccompanied by introductory, biographical or explanatory text. Blind Spot is not about photography, our content is photography.  Nominated this year for a Lucie award

Currently blocked by the University servers. This is an A3 magazine, published quarterly in Ireland. Nominated this year for a Lucie award.

Kilimanjaro Magazine is a vibrant printed space, dedicated to visual culture and editorial experimentation.  Reviewed postively in Vogue, Esquire, Creative Review, etc

COLORS was originally conceived as a nomadic magazine that would wander the world. After being founded in New York, it moved to Rome, then Paris, before moving to Fabrica, Benetton's Communication Research Center in Treviso, northern Italy in 1997.

Winner of the Lucie award in 2008, and runner up in 2011, Eyemazing is, "a unique moving gallery dedicated to international contemporary photography."

A comprehensive list of photography magazines that I know
(the highlighted ones are the ones we subscribe to)

8 Magazine - ceased
Ag -ceased?
Blow - 45 euros
CPhoto - $86, 2 vols. per year  
European Photography* [available online via Library Search]
Exit - 100 euros, 4 issues
FLIP [London Independent Photography]
Portfolio - ceased

Changes to magazines in the last few years
Portfolio Magazine ceased publication in 2010 (after twenty two years)
8 Magazine ceased publication in 2011 (after ten years)
British Journal of Photography became monthly in 2010
FOAM Magazine added to the collection in 2012
Photoworks moved from bi-annual publication to annual in 2012

Thursday, 8 August 2013


Mendeley is a relatively new reference manager and research tool, which has done much to introduce a social network element to reference management.  It was in the educational/tech press earlier in the year when Elsevier (the publishing giant) bought the company for a reported £45-£60 million (see the report in Wired for example).

A colleague has been offering introductions to this, and you can see his slides below.

Or here is another set of slides from a librarian in Singapore:

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Film theory - the most borrowed books

Back in April, I did some research to determine which were the most borrowed books in the area of Photography theory.  You can see the results here.

I thought it was about time to redo the exercise - this time focussing on film.  So, here is the list - the ten most borrowed books in film... (in the past three years).

The list starts with the most borrowed item first this time.  You can also take a look at the books on Library Search in A-Z order.

Bordwell, D. Film art; an introduction [various editions]. McGraw-Hill.

Braudy, L. and Cohen, M. (eds.). Film theory and criticism; introductory readings [various editions]. Oxford University Press.

Cook, P. The cinema Book [various editions].  BFI.

Bordwell, D. (1986). Narration in fiction film. Routledge.

Andrejevic, M. (2004).  Reality TV: the work of being of being watched.  Rowman & Littlefield.

Metz, C. (1982). Psychoanalysis and cinema; the imaginary signifier.  Macmillan.

Chion, M. (1994). Audio-vision: sound on screen. Columbia University Press.

Mill, B. (2005). Television sitcom. BFI.

Mcabe, J. and Akass, K. (2007). Quality TV; contemporary American television and beyond. I. B. Tauris.

Rees, A. L. A history of experimental film and video; from the canonical avant-garde to contemporary British practice [two editions].  BFI.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Learn to use Refworks in 20 minutes

RefWorks is a bibliographic management tool.  In other words, you can use it  to gather, store and manage your references, and to automatically generate a list of references/bibliography.

Many online catalogues and databases allow you to push records straight into Refworks.  You can do this in Library Search from within the e-shelf.  You can then create a list of references in a range of different referencing formats with a few clicks...

The lists generated are not perfect - they will contain errors that you need to correct - but they provide a good starting point.

If you are interested in finding out more, check out the 'Learn to use Refworks in 20 minutes' video playlist on the Refworks YouTube Channel.

If Refworks seems like too much trouble, have a look at EasyBib.  As well as the website, EasyBib have produced apps for IPhone, Android and Google mobiles, which will generate a reference when you scan in the barcode of a book.



Learn to use Refworks in 20 minutes [video playlist]

Refworks and Endnote [University of Westminster page]

Refworks - Help

Refworks YouTube Channel

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Skills training in relation to conceptions of knowledge and learning

"Metacognitive awareness and control,"  versus "quantitative accretion of discrete rightness."

Graham Gibbs writes interestingly about the usefulness or otherwise of study skills training in an short article in the last week's issue of THES: see here.

Students, "rarely use the methods they read about in how-to-study books or are taught on study skills courses" he asserts.  This is for a number of reasons he suggests (without expanding on this), but most importantly because:
"the skills may be too rigid to span the range of demands that students actually face."  
In any case, he argues, there is little evidence that the acquisition of study skills improves performance - with one exception: time management.

He suggests two things mark out effective students, in contrast to those who are "bewildered" or "unsophisticated".  These, he says,  are:
 "not about “skills” at all but about understanding.” 

Firstly, effective students are reflective and adapt their behaviours to different demands:
"Effective students can tell you all about how they go about their task, have a sensible rationale for doing so and change what they do when they notice that the context or task demands are different." 
In the educational literature, he tells us, this is known as "metacognitive awareness and control."

Secondly, effective students:
"understand the nature of knowledge and what they are supposed to do with it." 
This is in contrast to less effective students who try to spot the right answers in lectures, and memorise them - a method, described in the literature as, "quantitative accretion of discrete rightness."

Food for thought.

Further reading

Teaching intelligence - It is possible to avoid the negative mass effects

Teaching intelligence: Contact hours and student engagement

Raising awareness of best-practice pedagogy

Thursday, 23 May 2013

How to decide what to read?

A lot of what librarians teach about information skills are the techniques of searching, rather than the sort of thinking that needs to happen.

I've been thinking a lot about this because so often the techniques of searching, while useful, are not enough to answer many of the questions that students pose: what is needed is thinking.

I was reminded of this recently when reading a book in the Palgrave Study Skills series, How to use your reading in your essays, for preparation for a teaching session.  This is a short book which tells you all about how to write with sources.

Early on in the book, there is a section entitled, 'How to decide what to read?' which gives the following five steps:

Step 1. Think: what question do you want to answer?
Step 2. Think: what ideas of your own do you already have?
Step 3. Think: what types of source will you need?
Step 4. Do a first search
Step 5. Think: sort and select your sources for detailed reading
That is a lot of thinking!

Could it be that searching is the part of the iceberg above the water line that should be supported by the thinking going on beneath?

In our search-engine oriented world, searching is often done without thinking.   It is not something that is just affliciting the young, but is pervasive.  As soon as a question is forming in our minds it is already being expressed in our fingers, and before it is fully expressed in our fingers, Google is giving us answers - of a sort. This is fine if our question is, 'Where can I get a pizza in Harrow?', but for more complex questions, this approach can often lead us into trouble.  It is easy to get lost in a sea of information, with little idea of what it was we were trying to find out in the first place.

A few quotations illustrate the point:

Any idiot can type a search term into an internet search engine, and many idiots do.  The typical internet query is about 2.4 words long and has about a 14 per cent chance of failing because it contains a mis-spelling.
Rugg and Petre (2007: 48)
It is easy to produce dreadful assignments by using a search engine to do a quick, undiscriminating trawl. Searching for a few words from your assignment task, copying from websites you come across and then pasting together disconnected bits and pieces to present as your assignment will get you a very low grade.

Northedge and Chambers (2008: 271) 
There was a time when the word “research” meant “critical and exhaustive research or experimentation having as its aim the discovery of new facts or interpretations" (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 1976). Research today often means little more than locating random snippets using a search engine.
Gorman (2012: 114)
Research is at least 80% about forming questions, reflecting on what you know already, understanding the sources that might extend your knowledge, and thinking about and selecting the material you find.  Less than 20% is about doing the search.  That is the easy bit!  Or at least it is easy when you have a good idea of what you are looking for.

Further reading

Godfrey, J. (2009).  How to use your reading in your essays.  Palgrave Macmillan.

Gorman, M. (2012). The prince’s dream: a future for academic libraries, The New Review of Academic Librarianship, 18(2), 114

Northedge, A. and Chambers, E. (2008). The arts good study guide, 2nd ed. The Open University Press.

Rugg, G. and Petre, M. (2007).  A gentle guide to research methods.  Open University Press.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Content Map - new website

A new website has been produced to help UK consumers identify sources of legal downloads, and streaming services.  Developed by the Alliance for Intellectual Property (note the URL), The Content Map acts as a good survey of key sites such as Amazon, Apple, BBC, ITV, etc.  It also includes some you may not have come across such as Curzon On Demand and

Once the money available for the website had been spent, I don't think much was left for promotion, so please share!

On a related note I was reminded recently of the BUFVC's Moving Image Gateway, which is an excellent compendium of websites related to moving image and sound material.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Photography theory - which are the most borrowed texts?

I recently ran a report to see which of the photography theory books are most frequently borrowed from the library.  The following list shows the top twenty for the previous two years.  Camera lucida came top.

See all the books (in A-Z order) on Library Search here.

Family snaps : the meaning of domestic photography
Jo Spence; Patricia Holland
London : Virago 1991

Photography theory
James Elkins
London : Routledge 2007

The art of interruption : realism, photography, and the everyday
John Roberts (John Charles)
Manchester; New York : Manchester Universtiy Press 1998

Light matters : writings on photography
Vicki Goldberg
New York : Aperture 2005

The photograph as contemporary art
Charlotte Cotton
London : Thames & Hudson c2004

Why photography matters as art as never before
Michael Fried
New Haven : Yale University Press 2008

Spectral evidence : the photography of trauma
Ulrich Baer
Cambridge, Mass. ; London : MIT 2002

The spoken image : photography and language
Clive Scott
London : Reaktion 1999

Over exposed : essays on contemporary photography
Carol Squiers
New York : New Press 1999

Photography and cinema
David Campany
London : Reaktion 2008

Stillness and time : photography and the moving image
David Green; Joanna Lowry
Brighton : Photoworks / Photoforum 2006

Photography : the key concepts
David Bate
Oxford : Berg 2009

The cinematic
David Campany
London : Whitechapel ; Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press 2007

On photography
Susan Sontag 1933-2004
London : Penguin 2002

Art and photography
David Campany
London : Phaidon 2003

Photography : a critical introduction
Liz Wells 1948-
4th ed. London : Routledge 2009

The burden of representation : essays on photographies and histories
John Tagg
Minneapolis, Minn. : University of Minnesota Press 1993

The photography reader
Liz Wells
London : Routledge 2003

Thinking photography
Victor Burgin
London : Macmillan 1982

Camera lucida : reflections on photography
Roland Barthes
London : Vintage 1993, 1981

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

OER (Open Educational Resources)

This is a quick post for academic staff rather than students.  If you've heard of 'OER's, and want to know more, have a look at a very natty guide from Jisc.  Available here: A guide to open educational resources.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The film that changed my life

If I had a spare million, I'd snap up one of the super flats at the Barbican.  Not purely for the wonderful cinemas at the complex, but it would definitely be one of the reasons.  Their new film series presents fourteen life-changing films selected and introduced by well-known critics. 'The Films that changed my life' starts in April.

Films and the critics who chose them...
The Battle of Algiers introduced by David Gritten
Hamlet introduced by Nicholas Kenyon
The 400 Blows introduced by Sukhdev Sandhu
Raging Bull introduced by Peter Bradshaw
Celine and Julie Go Boating introduced by Jonathan Romney
The Garden introduced by Larushka Ivan-Zadeh
First Men in the Moon + East of Sudan introduced by Kim Newman
I Know Where I'm Going! introduced by Kate Muir
A Night to Remember introduced by Jenny McCartney
Ship of Theseus introduced by Derek Malcolm
The Lady Eve introduced by Wendy Ide
Bad Day at Black Rock introduced by Philip French
If... introduced by Dave Calhoun
Annie Hall introduced by Jason Solomons

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Effective Research Skills - workshop

Do you know how to research effectively?  Is there room for improvement?

I will be running an Effective Research Skills workshop, as part of the Learning and Academic Skills Support programme next Monday (the full list of sessions is available here).

This workshop has been created to help you:

•    Know what research is and what skills contribute to successful research
•    Know how to identify authentic, reliable and accurate sources of information that are relevant to your area of study
•    Analyse the process of research and the strategies involved in that process

All students are welcome (all subjects; all levels) and there is no need to book.  The full details are:

Effective Research Skills Workshop
Monday 18th February 2013
A-Block, Harrow (A1.6)
12pm- 2pm

If you are interested in attending, but can't make this time and date, please drop me a line and I will let you know when the session is running again.

Further reading

Chambers, E. and Northedge, A. (1997).  The arts good study guide, 2nd ed.  Open University Press. 

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Pretentious, Moi?

'A User's guide to Artspeak' in The Guardian on Monday discussed an essay written by an artist and a critic, on what they describe as 'International Art English.'  In brief, this is the sort of wordy, imitative and pretentious language that you too often come across in writing on art (although you might also add cultural studies and philosophy too).  To paraphrase a sentence from the essay, it is language that asks for more than to be understood - it demands to be recognised.

The original essay is very interesting on the possible genealogy of this language, its peculiar lexicon, syntax and use.  And for anyone who has ever struggled with this stuff (and haven't we all?) it's pretty funny too.

By coincidence, this Monday's Start the Week programme on Radio 4 was a special on Political Writing, which took George Orwell's essay 'Politics and the English Language' as its starting point.  Orwell famously offered the following six rules:
  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous. 
However, it is two sentences from his conclusion that I'm most impressed by:
If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself.
As Alix Rule and David Levine suggest in the essay referred to above, a certain kind of academic writing can be more about showing that you belong to particular tribe, than it is about communicating something original about a topic.  It is this sort of posing that one should try to avoid.

Consider, for example, Mathew Reisz writing last year about scholarly work on his father - Karel Reisz:

Some of the analysis seems overly elaborate or to miss the point. Even stranger is the stuff I simply can't understand. While there are vast amounts of academic writing in technical or specialist areas I obviously can't follow, it seems peculiar not to be able to decipher what someone is saying about my own father and his films.
It is possible to write lucid and incisive academic work, which gives proper weight to the complexity of any given topic.  There is lots of good writing out there (as well as bad), so why would anyone bother with the boringly pretentious?

Helen Sword, whose book Stylish academic writing was published last year, identified a number of myths which seemed to be preventing academics writing better.  These include: 'Academic writing has to be difficult,' and 'Academic writing has to be dense' (there is more on this here).  So, it's no wonder that some academic writing is both dense and difficult.

Since writing this post, I have been sent a link to the publisher's page for Helen Sword's book.  It includes links to some of the interviews etc which she did last year, and also to the interesting video about 'nominalizations' below.  I have to confess I have never heard of nominalizations before, but I will be on the look out for them now.  I can think of one particularly irritating example already.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

There is power in the union

Wouldn't it be great if you could search loads of great libraries simultaneously...?

Well, you can.

Take a look at the presentation below introducing Search25 and Copac - two great union catalogues.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Information seeking behaviour in The Big Lebowski

What can you learn about ‘information skills’ from watching the Coen brothers’ 1998 film, The Big Lebowski?  This is the question addressed in an article submitted to The Journal of Popular Culture (Dill and Janke, 2011).

The authors discuss the information seeking behaviour of four of its central characters - Donny, Walter, 'The Dude', and Maude - relating them to some interesting research into information seeking behaviour.

I summarise below how each of the characters shape up, and there are some illustrative clips from the film drawn from Box of Broadcasts.

NB: Box of Broadcasts requires Adobe Flash Player, and is therefore not viewable on an iPad.  You may also need to login first, and then refresh this page.  For University of Westminster students, go to the BoB National Site, and enter 'University of Westminster' into the 'Where are you from?' box; then refresh this page.


Donny has low-level information seeking skills.  He uses inappropriate information sources (i.e. Walter and The Dude), who are not authoritative nor courteous or inclusive.  They do nothing to help establish the self-confidence he needs to develop a more active information seeking strategy.  He therefore is in a cycle of not knowing.

'So you have no frame of reference here, Donny'

This recording is to be used only for non-commercial educational purposes under the terms of an ERA Licence. For terms of use and to find and record more programmes please visit BoB National.


Walter seems to formulate a goal-oriented plan.  However, he makes a number of false assumptions and mistakes.  In the terms of 'personal construct theory' he has an 'indicative' attitude - he depends too heavily on the construct he currently holds, and rejects new information that conflicts with that view.  As Dill and Janke suggest, "If one of Donny's failures is poor self-esteem, then one of Walter's is hubris."

His overconfidence is an indicator of incompetence - "he repeatedly dooms his searches to failure with quick assumptions and a lack of self-assessment." The clip below is just one of many instances of this (he happens to be right here, but more often he gets it wrong).

'Forget about the toe!'

This recording is to be used only for non-commercial educational purposes under the terms of an ERA Licence. For terms of use and to find and record more programmes please visit BoB National.

And here's Walter getting it wrong...

'This guy's a fake'

This recording is to be used only for non-commercial educational purposes under the terms of an ERA Licence. For terms of use and to find and record more programmes please visit BoB National.

The Dude

The Dude's information seeking behaviours are ultimately successful.  Although, he is not a proactive information seeker, he has a 'invitational' attitude, which contrasts to Walter's 'indicative' attitude - he is receptive to "new shit."  He also assimilates information from a variety of sources.

The Dude also exemplifies how a positive attitude can benefit an information search, enabling him to incorporate dissonant (conflicting) information. 

'New shit has come to light'

This recording is to be used only for non-commercial educational purposes under the terms of an ERA Licence. For terms of use and to find and record more programmes please visit BoB National.


Maude exhibits the most successful information seeking behaviours.  She has good self-esteem, clear goals, an 'invitational' attitude, and uses a variety of information sources.  She also  proactively seeks information to close her knowledge gaps - for example by obtaining the Logjammin' tape as shown in the clip below.

'Take a look at this, sir'

This recording is to be used only for non-commercial educational purposes under the terms of an ERA Licence. For terms of use and to find and record more programmes please visit BoB National.

So, what do we learn?

So, what do we learn?  What are some of the aspects of more successful information behaviours?  Having read the article a few times, and having watched the movie again to compile this post, here is what I think will improve your information behaviour:
Good self-esteem and a positive attitude
Choosing appropriately accessible and authoritative sources
Using a range of sources
Not being overconfident (not having a ‘indicative’ attitude - looking for information that supports your thesis, and dismissing information that doesn’t)
Being open to 'new shit' (i.e. having an 'invitational attitude')
Having clear goals
Being proactive
Being in a good mood
From my perspective, what is most interesting is that effective information behaviours seem not just to be about cognitive ability or knowledge, they are also attitudnal.  Dill and Janke comment on this, suggesting that poor mood leads to poor information behaviour.  They also suggest that it is the mood-enriching experience of coitus that helps 'The Dude' finally understand what is going on.  Now, there's a suggestion for your essay schedule!

'Oh man, my thinking about this case has become so uptight'

This recording is to be used only for non-commercial educational purposes under the terms of an ERA Licence. For terms of use and to find and record more programmes please visit BoB National.


Dill, E. and Janke, K. (2011). “New Shit Has Come to Light": Information Seeking Behaviour in The Big Lebowski. The Journal of Popular Culture. Preprint, submitted September 21, 2011. [online] Available from: 10.1111/j.1540-5931.2011.00874.x [Accessed 17/01/2013].

The full movie is available here:

This recording is to be used only for non-commercial educational purposes under the terms of an ERA Licence. For terms of use and to find and record more programmes please visit BoB National.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Some suggestions for guided independent study week...

If you are new to the university and looking for inspiration as to how to spend the next week, here are a few suggestions drawn from Safari Books Online - accessible via Library Search.

Don't be be fooled by the name of this resource, it also includes videos!

Get to grip with a Mac - video

Need to get to grips with the Mac OS fast?  Try this thorough video.

Learn Your Mac: Mac Video Training

Adobe Creative Suite - videos

New to Adobe Creative Suite?  Learn by video with these great videos.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Learn by Video

Adobe Photoshop CS6 Learn by Video Core Training in Visual Communication

Camera guides

Have you spent a small fortune on your DSLR?  Or are you borrowing some superior kit?  Get the best out of it with these guides.  Search Safari Books for other models.

Nikon® D700 Digital Field Guide

Mastering the Nikon D700

David Busch’s Nikon® D700 Guide to Digital SLR Photography

Browse the library

Take Steve Simon's advice in The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great - also available on Safari Books Online.
Whenever I’m looking for ideas and inspiration, I love going to my library, grabbing a book, and finding inspiration between the covers. Nothing to plug in or charge, the sweet aroma of ink on paper, it’s an intimate experience that lets me get inside the head of the photographer who created it.