Visualizing information in the records and archives management (RAM) disciplines

Pauline Joseph (Department of Information Studies, Curtin University, Perth, Australia)
Jenna Hartel (Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)

Records Management Journal

ISSN: 0956-5698

Publication date: 20 November 2017



This paper aims to explore the concept of information in records and archives management (RAM) from a fresh, visual perspective by using arts-informed methodology and the draw-and-write technique.


Students and practitioners of RAM in Australia were asked to answer the question, “what is information?” in a drawing and then to describe the drawing in words. This produced a data set of 255 drawings of information or “iSquares”, for short. Compositional interpretation and a framework of graphic representations by Engelhardt were applied to determine how participants envision information and what the renderings imply for RAM.


The images reveal an overwhelming recognition in RAM of the diversity of media formats of information and the hyperconnectivity of information in networked information systems; and illustrate the central place of human beings within these systems. These findings offer striking, accessible illustrations of major concepts in RAM and enable new understandings through the construction of stories.

Practical implications

There are both pedagogical applications and practical implications of this work for students, practitioners and knowledge workers. The graphical representations of information in this research deepen the understanding of textual definitions of information. The data set of iSquares provides opportunities to create new storyboards to explain information definitions, practices and phenomena in RAM disciplines, and, to explain related concepts such as data, information, knowledge and wisdom hierarchy.


This is the first study in RAM disciplines to provide visual illustrations of information using graphical image representations.



Pauline Joseph and Jenna Hartel (2017) "Visualizing information in the records and archives management (RAM) disciplines", Records Management Journal, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 234-255

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