HP Labs Technical Reports

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Understanding Information Needs in Technical Work Settings

Paepcke, Andreas; O'Day, Vicki L.



Abstract: We have interviewed information workers in widely differing areas of a large, diverse company. We describe some of the unsatisfied information needs we observed during this study. Two clusters of issues are described. The first covers how individuals use information, customizing it for particular tasks by assembling selected information from different sources into information compounds. The problems of identifying, selecting, and interacting with heterogeneous sources are discussed. The second set of issues centers around the characteristics of and barriers to sharing information among work groups. Effective sharing depends on factors such as trust, the ability to personalize, and the addition of meaningful structure to complex, interwoven information. We discuss the implications of these information needs for both technological and organizational change.

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