Professor Olof Sundin


Olof Sundin is professor in Information Studies at the Department for Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Sweden.

Sundin’s research interest lies in the intersection of information practices, media and information literacies and digital culture. He takes on his research from a socio-material position that privileges a focus on the ensemble of people, technologies and practices. He has a particular interest in new orders of knowledge that follow with digitisation of information and how these new orders re-configure various social practices in which information seeking, trust and credibility play an important role.

Empirically, Sundin has an interest in how established knowledge actors – such as schools, libraries, encyclopaedias, and publishers – handle the challenges of search engines and digital media and people’s changing expectations that come with it. This interest has led him to communicate his research also outside the academic setting and he frequently presents for teachers, librarians and the general public. Sundin is a member of the Advisory Editorial Board of Journal of Documentation. At Lund University, Sundin leads the research group “Information Practices: Communication, Culture and Society”. His current research is primarily carried out in the framework project “Knowledge in a Digital World (KDW): Trust, Credibility and Relevance on the Web”, funded by the Swedish Research Council.

Outsourcing trust to the information infrastructure: a socio-material perspective

Educational research has called our attention to the difficulties students have with critical evaluation of information. However, the practice of searching, typically equated with the use of search engines, is nowadays often taken for granted – by students, teachers and even by researchers. In this presentation, I will argue that today’s culture of search demands an understanding of the co-dependence of searching and evaluating information. A socio-material perspective on media and information literacy (MIL) provides tools for analysing how trust is outsourced to the information infrastructure. This infrastructure enables not just access to information, but it co-produces what there is to know in the first place. The presentation takes its cue from on-going research on the role and function of information searching, primarily in the context of education. In recent years, media and information literacy has evolved as a concept bringing together two distinct, yet overlapping research traditions. In this presentation, I will discuss how these two research traditions can supplement each other for understandings and conceptualisations of literacies for contemporary media and information landscape.