We have loads of theories about the production of misinformation that focus on those generating it (manipulators, liars, propagandists), but so little that centers the audience. Such an exploration would point us toward its voluntary rapid circulation and the collective behaviors of sharing. The closest thing we've got is storytelling in terms of how gossip and rumors blaze across communities, now and historically. But of course the spread of stories, true or false, is enabled by the internet and platforms for information sharing that amplify polarizing information. A key model for qualitative research in these areas is storytelling, but until recently storytelling has been more practice than theory in library and information science (LIS) and the information sciences (IS).
So I'm working on theorizing storytelling as information for multiple reasons, and the rapid spread of misinformation is one of them. Another is that indigenous knowledge is routinely shut out of (settler colonial, academic) knowledge production, and an epistemological bridge like defining storytelling as information might open doors to forms of knowledge that I myself do not know. I want this to be a bridge to future openness to and inclusion of epistemologies that challenge the positivist assumptions behind our field. Once we center stories, I hope we can center the people in "people, information, technology" in new ways across our fields, from practice to theory and everything in between.
Here's my latest research article on Storytelling Wisdom: Story, Information, and DIKW
And two brand new shorter articles on Storytelling as Information, just out this week:
Part 1: The S-DIKW Framework
Part 2: Future S-DIKW Research