What are Information Grounds?

Do you go to a place for a particular reason but wind up sharing information just because other people are there and you start talking? If so, then you may be participating in an information ground.

An Information Ground is an environment temporarily created when people come together for a singular purpose but from whose behavior emerges a social atmosphere that fosters the spontaneous and serendipitous sharing of information.

This idea arose from Karen Fisher's (writing as "Pettigrew") study Role of Community Health Nurses in Linking the Elderly with Human Services of how information about human services is shared among nurses, seniors, and other people at foot clinics. Although people were at the makeshift clinics to provide or receive footcare, their incidental socializing prompted them to share information through chitchat or through talking about their personal lives.

The study of information flow in informal social settings, both offline and online, from hair salons and airports to coffee shops and dog parks, is an ongoing research program that began in the late 1990s and now has systematic studies underway worldwide.

In addition to our formal research studies, we have collected numerous anecdotal accounts of information grounds.

Spotlights

Fisher, K. E., Landry, C. F., & Naumer, C. M. (2007).  Social spaces, casual interactions, meaningful exchanges: An information ground typology based on the college student experience. Information Seeking in Context VI (ISIC). Sydney, Australia, July 2006. (Information Research: http://informationr.net/ir/12-2/paper291.html)

Read about others' information grounds and submit your own here!