Thursday, September 8, 2011

In an age thriving on technology, Patricia Katopol knows it is up to people to understand, collect, and distribute that knowledge effectively.

Katopol, associate professor in the School of Library and Information Science, researches how people manage, process, and display information using Cognitive Work Analysis – a formative, constraint-based framework for analyzing complex sociotechnical systems.

“I pay attention to the social aspects of knowledge management while including technology when appropriate,” Katopol said.

As an attorney, Katopol managed exhibits and information at a time when databases of information were being created on computers.

Though the growth of technology has allowed a lot of information to be compiled more efficiently and stored in greater settings, Katopol said technology doesn’t have a greater impact on her research “As I continue with my research, I move away from finding this perfect technology that will be most effective in delivering information, and instead help people with the process of managing and organizing information,” Katopol said.

The human component is most important. Everyone has something to offer in the sharing of information, she said. Katopol stressed the importance of sharing information, but in some environments, such as educational atmospheres with researchers vying for the same information, it is harder to do. “People are hesitant to share too much information,” she said.

A lot of organizations fail, at some level, at using and distributing information. Organizations choose to get too caught up in daily planning and communicating and often fail to think about the future and how information should be retained for further use.

Katopol is currently looking into the use of information as “baby boomers” begin to retire from the workplace, and how the knowledge and experience they gained can be retained in the organization.