A double helix metaphor for use and usefulness in informing systems

Peter Bednar, Christine Welch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Following the theme of this monograph, this paper discusses a dialectic we perceive to subsist between meaningful use and reflection upon use. This dialectic between experiencing use and reflecting upon experiencing use (or thinking, and thinking about thinking) may be considered in the following way. Each of these elements is subject to change. As reflection triggers change in use, and such change triggers further reflection, a spiral comes about. Lived human experience, and reflection upon that experience, seems to shape a double helix. In this paper, the authors suggest a need for a hermeneutically-informed, phenomenological approach when considering the complexities of informing systems, viewed as human activity systems. It is suggested that human actors, as users of informing systems, must own and control any inquiry into use in relation to design for themselves, and that individual sensemaking processes are the key to successful interaction within the double helix metaphor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-295
Number of pages23
JournalInforming Science: The International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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