Voyage across a Constellation of Information

Information Literacy in Interest-Driven Learning Communities

by Crystle Martin (Author)
©2014 Monographs X, 143 Pages


What do orcs, elves, and information literacy have to do with each others? Find out in Voyage across a Constellation of Information as we take an in-depth look at information literacy practices (how people find, evaluate, and use information) in the massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft and its online community. This book teases out real-world information literacy practices by following players as they solve their information needs through collective activity, relying on and building a set of individual and collective practices within the online community. Voyage across a Constellation of Information offers educators, information professionals, and researchers an opportunity to get an inside look at the new practices of digital spaces, and lays the groundwork for inclusion of these practices into 21st-century education.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Advance Praise for Voyage across a Constellation of Information
  • Dedication
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter One: The Affinity Space as an Information Source: The Constellation of Information
  • Chapter Two: Information Literacy: A Mechanism for Charting the Constellation
  • Information Literacy
  • Issues in Information Literacy Research
  • Information Seeking
  • Online Reading Comprehension
  • Discussion of Information Literacy
  • Online Communities as Affinity Spaces
  • Discourse and Online Communities
  • Affinity Spaces and Communities of Practice
  • New Literacies
  • Fan Communities
  • MMOs and Affinity Spaces
  • Collective Intelligence in Online Communities
  • Online Communities Discussion
  • Developing the Navigation Device
  • Chapter Three: Tools and Methods for Creating the Compass and Navigating the Constellations
  • First an Introduction to WoW
  • Tools and Methods for Creating the Compass and Navigating the Constellation
  • Information Horizon Maps
  • Qualitative Coding
  • Chapter Four: An Individual’s Map to Navigating the Constellation
  • Information and Identity
  • Chapter Five: Synchronous and Asynchronous Information as a Part of the Constellation
  • Finding a Way through the Jungle Canopy
  • A Clearing in the Canopy
  • Coding
  • Through the Clearing
  • Synchronous Information Literacy
  • Asynchronous Information Literacy
  • A New Compass to Navigate the Constellation of Information
  • Chapter Six: Collective Intelligence: Navigating the Constellation
  • What Is Collective Intelligence?
  • Participatory Culture and Collective Intelligence, a New Hybrid
  • Collective Intelligence Operationalized: Applying Collective Intelligence to the Constellation of Information
  • How Is the Constellation Navigated by Collective Intelligence?
  • Collective Intelligence on the Rise
  • What Does Collective Intelligence Look Like in the Constellation?
  • The New Collective Intelligence: Collective Information Literacy
  • Chapter Seven: From a Constellation to a Galaxy
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index


I would like to thank the many people who have supported me through this process. To Arnold Martin, whose love, support, intellectual contributions, and unending willingness to discuss intricate details of my research kept me progressing and focused. I am so lucky to have such an amazing partner. Arnold, you make life endlessly full of joy and adventure. Amanda Ochsner, you read so many drafts of this work in its very early stages, this book would not be what it is today without that early support. Thanks to Michele Knobel and Colin Lankshear for seeing promise in the early draft of this book, as well as Sophie Appel and Chris Myers at Peter Lang for guiding me through the publishing process. I would like to thank Constance Steinkuehler, Mimi Ito, Cathy Compton-Lilly, Rebekah Willett, Kurt Squire, James Paul Gee, Ryan Martinez, Caro Williams, Beth King, Jordan Thevenow-Harrison, and Gabriella Anton for all of their support. I would also like to thank my parents, Sara and Chris Price, for their continuous encouragement to pursue my passion. As well as Barbara and Walter Richards, the most loving grandparents anyone could ever have, and my sister, Martha, for support. Finally, to Debbie Martin, who used her expertise as a novice to make this book an infinitely better read.


The Affinity Space as an Information Source: The Constellation of Information

By training, I am a librarian and an educational researcher specializing in digital media. At heart, I am a gamer. For some this might seem an incongruous combination with the sometimes espoused and incorrect view that games are an intellectual wasteland and a waste of time; but I find the two identities have fit together and informed each other, as well as my research, quite well. This can be seen in the plethora of games and learning literature, which covers many aspects of learning and education research (Gee, 2004; Ito, et al., 2009; Ito, et al., 2013; Martin, 2012; Squire, 2011; Steinkuehler, 2011).

I did not become a gamer or even become interested in games until I was in college. Some of my first experiences with gaming came from living in a dorm at my undergraduate university in the form of communal play of games like Mario Kart, Dance Dance Revolution, Street Fighter, and Soul Caliber, played as social activities among fellow students. Many of my friends and dormmates played these multiplayer games and a variety of sports games, like Madden, as a way to hang out while sharing a joint activity. These groups were a mix of casual and competitive players, as well as mixed gender. These early experiences with games became an entry into a world that only a few years later would become a consuming passion both for pleasure and for research. ← 1 | 2 →

As I finished my undergraduate education and began thinking about pursuing a Master’s in Library and Information Science, I started spending time with a longtime friend who was an avid gamer and played a wide range of games. Being exposed to a variety of game genres (like adventure games, action games, first-person shooters, puzzle and role-playing games—commonly known as RPGs, and more) strengthened my enjoyment of playing and watching game play. As a beginner, or n00b, in the parlance of gaming, I faced a steep learning curve and often became stuck during play, sometimes frustratingly so. Fortunately, I had social support from my friend, who later became my partner, and because he had been a gamer for much longer, he was regularly able to help and mentor me through difficult challenges and situations. For instance, I distinctly remember being extremely frustrated while trying to fly a hippogriff through a course of rings during my first play through of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (KnowWonder, 2004). Ultimately, I required the help of a more experienced player to explain that I was over-controlling my hippogriff and, therefore, causing it to go wildly off course, which in turn made the race course even more frustrating for me. With a great deal of practice I finally mastered flying the hippogriff through the rings and learned how important it was to not only stay relaxed while flying a hippogriff, but also how important the information provided by other gamers is to learning. Since my introduction to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, my partner and I have spent and still spend a lot of time playing cooperative games or co-playing single player games (that is, one of us controls while the other offers suggestions, looks up information from game faqs or wikis, or points out items and pickups that the person with the controller may have missed). Through this process I was apprenticed into game play, but I also discovered the importance of the culture and sociality in gaming. But possibly the most important part of my apprenticeship, because it has subsequently fueled my research, was being introduced to the world of game communities outside the games: their forums, websites, wikis, YouTube videos, and boundless other resources (many of which are open and freely available through the Internet) where gamers communicate and share information about the games they play.

These communities create a vast array of resources that others can access to help them complete or master almost every video game imaginable. An early example of this type of resource available to game players through the Internet is a walkthrough. Websites like ← 2 | 3 → GameFAQs (GameFAQs, n.d.), which has been around since 1995, offer walkthroughs created by individuals in the game community in the form of text documents for a majority games on a variety of platforms (consoles, handheld devices, PCs). Traditionally, walkthroughs have been written in ASCII text, a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols that is a machine readable code easily readable in any text editor, often complete with ASCII-art embellishments like elaborate headers identifying the author. The authors of these sophisticated documents take great time and care to create resources explaining various aspects of a game also using letters, numbers, and symbols to create graphics for their walkthroughs. Creating the walkthrough, like creating any other game resource, and embellishing it with art goes beyond what is necessary to play the game; this instead shows the deep level of the interest and engagement of the participants which form the basis of their community. These individual pursuits became multi-authored with the rise of game wikis and forums, but the rise in number of authors did not affect the intensity of interest and engagement.


X, 143
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2013 (November)
orcs elves game online community collective activity
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 143 pp.

Biographical notes

Crystle Martin (Author)

Crystle Martin is a postdoctoral research associate for the Connected Learning Research Network at the Digital Media and Learning Hub at the University of California, Irvine. She holds a PhD in education specializing in digital media from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Title: Voyage across a Constellation of Information
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158 pages