HP Labs Technical Reports

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Orienteering in an Information Landscape: How Information Seekers Get From Here to There

O'Day, Vicki L.; Jeffries, Robin



Abstract: We studied the uses of information search results by regular clients of professional intermediaries. The clients in our study engaged in three different types of searches: 1. monitoring a well-known topic or set of variables over time, 2. following an information-gathering plan suggested by a typical approach to the task at hand, and 3. exploring a topic in an undirected fashion. In most cases, a single search evolved into a series of interconnected searches, usually beginning with a high-level overview. We identified a set of common triggers and stop conditions for further search steps. We also observed a set of common operation that clients used to analyze search results. In some settings, the number of search iterations was reduced by restructuring the work done by intermediaries. We discuss the implications of the interconnected search pattern, triggers and stop conditions, common analysis techniques, and intermediary roles for the design of information access systems.

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