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Conceptualizing self-documentation

Tim Gorichanaz (Department of Information Science, College of Computer and Informatics, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 4 September 2019

Issue publication date: 22 November 2019




Self-documentation is an increasingly common phenomenon, but it is not yet well understood. The purpose of this paper is to provide a philosophical framework for analyzing examples of self-documentation on the dimensions of ontology, epistemology and ethics.


The framework addresses these three major areas of philosophic thought by operationalizing insights from philosophy, chiefly the work of Martin Heidegger. Heidegger’s concepts of authenticity and fallenness inform the poles of each dimension of the framework.


Ontologically, self-documentation may manifest as document (authentic) or data (fallen); epistemologically, as understanding (authentic) or idle curiosity (fallen); and ethically, as self-care (authentic) or diversion (fallen). These dimensions are presented separately but are understood to be intermingled.


This unified framework offers a lens for examining and comparing cases of self-documentation and self-documents. No such framework has previously been articulated, but given the ubiquity and growing importance of self-documentation, it is needed.



Gorichanaz, T. (2019), "Conceptualizing self-documentation", Online Information Review, Vol. 43 No. 7, pp. 1352-1361.



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