IS246 Week 5 Class Notes

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One's role is constraining as to what can and cannot be said
trying to figure out when these episodes of bias might occur

MT: Scripts as imposed etiquette and the hindrance to information seeking activity; makes me think about my experience with LinkedIn


Case Ch 11: people still turn to others for info bottom line
Abstract: Alongside the trend toward more context-centered HIB research, is inquiry into people’s HIB by job or role. The two major players in this line of inquiry are those seeking health information and students.  Nonetheless, occupational research still pays attention to the system-centered side of research, as well, maintaining a healthy curiosity about sources and channels. Interestingly, there is a very human distinction made between interpersonal and non-personal types of channels. These studies frequently find that people often turn to other people (their friends and neighbors) for information first.
Review: This chapter prompts us to remember the human dimension in online answer-seeking, with its implications for social networks and peer-provided question and answer sites. I suspect that the insights of anthropology and social psychology would be particularly apropos to designing the structures of these types of sites.

Artists as a category; creative workers of all kinds
The other category: collecting as an information strategy

Leah says she's struck with how many of the categories are trained-->already in a place; categories of ppl who are trained in very specific competencies and have been certified by institutions, which teach them how to seek information
in business: valued information is that which others don't have; competition is the subtext

shift from accessibility to information value-->managers to respond quickly and appear knowledgeable and bc of the time pressure, etc., Malone and others say there's a certain prop element to the information; at the end of the day , ppl make experience-based gut decisions and the info is there as a backup (MT: what does this mean in the context of big data-->Dan Ariely's big data as teenage sex)

If it's in the air, meme-like, you have to pay attn and get to grips with it, even if it's not important, still need to be conversant (MT: this is an interesting thought for a topic)

Decision making still has a very personal kind of quality to it at the end of the day. (MT: what does this mean for behavioral science findings?)

Next time we'll start off the same way: think about the notion of seeker characteristics, and talk abt abstracts related to that and why you chose your topic. Very related to occupation, Borgman's work on individual differences-->people's college majors and their apritutdes (MT: relevance to CPT scores) class, language, income, etc.

There is a lot implied in the model analysis about context
tends to eb focused on individuals seekers and their actions
what is being modeled is practiced sometimes acknowledged in a context but very raraely do they specify what the relationship to the context
none specify systems-->you have to say what it is you're engaging with!
leaving out distractions/incidentals/contingency is leavin gout context (Johnson)
groups-->you can't think abt collaboration, group process, etc. without thinking abt that as part of the context
sequential/contingent/linear-->predictable, step-wise model
a lot about the individual sense of self, the internal, the condition of the individual
people's own sense of need, skill, awareness, purpose, uncertainty
a lot of focus on the state of the seeker, most often front loaded, but several of the theories do talk bout these states and ppl's awareness of their states at different points; maybe internal, maybe intrinsic
perceptions of users/seekers
Phil Agre's critical technical practice: one of the ways to look at technical systems is to look at what they leave out; start with a generative metaphor-->cloud computing (big fat metaphor); when you adopt a metaphor like that, it will lead you to go in certain directions and will leave some things out

when we talk abt what paradigm these ppl are using for their models, start by identifying what the metaphor is
Agre didn't have the knowledge to collaborate with humanists, etc. human as machine
next, you look at what it excludes or pulls you away from thinking about-->what is overemphasized at the expense of other ideas
invert the metaphor, turn it inside out and bring these marginal things to the center-->what if we were to design around this instead? won't look determined, planned for, if you look at the machine ,etaphor there is a certain amt of stuff that a machine metaphor excludes. look at those and bring them to the center of a model-->emotion, humanness,
can find the missing elements by looking at what's assumed
MT: and what's assumed has to do with the social, emotional, political, psychological, etc. contexts

Design for the excluded things
thinking abt the info skkg process recast it in terms of what these things that are taken for granted
these models tend to so emphasize certain things that there needs to be some attention to the neglected things, like the high-hanging fruit

these models tackle the low-hanging fruit
harder is what ppl value, their confidence, what they can and cannot say, their cultural assumptions and

once we do that, then these models can be readdressed with the elements that are excluded

Kuhlthau brought emotion into the model

MT: this relates the the human turn
heavily culturally loaded --> looks like scholarship, looks like the Western workplace

it's all work oriented, particular tasks, particular roles

MT: what is it to be a person? if identity is not work-based, is it hobby-based, family-based, morality-based?

one thing going on with the models is whether the process is self-generated or imposed (the imposed query)

What is context?
taking into account the personal and social world of the seeker
MT: maybe it's everything about which the process should be informed

salience-->how we decide what to pay attention to

situational variables
context affect strategy, resources, awareness, needs (need becomes part of the context)


is time separable from experience, space, relationships, memory
more integrative viewpoint (that's what Johnson is trying to get at from his viewpoint)

Sonnenwald's information horizons

pare down to specific context is a way to focus on how a specific process works
can make your case much more valid by saying in what contexts this occurs; the whole idea of context as serving as a limitation

you have to give the limits/bounds of your research, just like you have to define the context of your model

MT: so why do we have to look at what's missing from models if you know that they are only applicable in their set contexts? i know why, but it seems like an obvious thing

the context is the validity bc it describes the situation

moving away from the commonsense notion of context as a container for action
there is a long tradition of thinking abt (Johnson critiques this) context as sthg impinging on action; action can also shift context, but they are separate phenomenon; we need to get away from that binary idea of context as a container within which events/processes/actions occur

MT: it's as if experience shifts through different contexts-->omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience

constructs of realism, positivism; this contained duality reflects this type of duality; constructs are "cooked up inside the self"
the more subjectivist, phenomenological thinkers say we gave names to things depending on language, culture, etc. so in one sense, even that observation is inseparable from this building of constructs
what the designers idea is versus what the users idea is



where is the information inquiry in the process?
concerns with privacy, opportunities for acknowledgement of emotion, affective and cognitive reactions, how people cope with anxiety in a semi-public place; family dynamics; OR
indirect info:board, gurneys-->sound connotes information
trivial conversations
medical personnel communications-->digital, sound, page/announcement systems
signs -- directional (not necessarily sensitive to the fact that many people only visit there once and under uncertainty and anxiety
purposeful delivery of info--obligational
good news delivery versus bad news
tacit information or how others react to information acquisition/delivery of others
info desk refers you to the brochures/maps

the extent to which institutions are flagging private areas instead of etiquette
could this be bc so many different cultures?

signs abt no cellphones

staff: one of the job skills is being able to manage and help
MT; like smelling
heochschield: the managed heart
relationship bt certain kinds of labot and how certain categories are expected to manage themselves and behave in certain ways for their jobs
MT: call centers
she argued that it's exploitation of emotion-workers bc they get burned out and lose track of their own authentic feelings
has implication for who can get hired: makes me think abt disney
cultural and class bkgrnds can't participate

the people at the intersection of the professional/medical and the family
and when the doc came to talk to me and he was so happy to not have to translate to layperson language
Leah says it's a power dynamic thing-->sometimes ppl clam up/are put off and other times they are relieved

this is a very interesting topic to me bc i've always been the translator between the technical and the layperson
maybe this is a good topic for my dissertation!

mediating emotion through digital devices-->a way of avoiding social interaction or limiting overwhelming situations; ideas of safety

Leah: urbanists-->consider the privatization of public spaces and what that means for restrictions on behavior
makes me think about monitoring of public places by private companies (like BBG, CapGroup, even the bar in Santa Monica)

Information-seeking behavior models from Case

ISB models
Our group thinks these models don't take into account "encountering"/serendipitous information nor organizational and social intelligence scenarios.

categories of information use
purposeful seeking
"needy" user

no distraction, incidental
non-linear, groups, change in process
everyday, tacit knowledge


all include need
emphasis on context
assume end point
recognize self-awareness, conscious

deferred need, maintenance
some everyday
locating need in process

"not as sequential as it looks"
passive, incidental, too goal directed, contingency

like others
uncertainty reduction
active behavioral process
purposeful, iterative
"funneling"--narrowing path
assume minimum engagement (Zipf)
don't account for unskilled, poor literacy
some expertise assumed

leave out
none specify systems, tools
focus on intrinsic, not extrinsic motives

Leah on medical field: the container metaphor is a natural one in this case; the container is a certain kind of health care practice; within that container there is a repoire of choices of what to look for/ask for; I can restrict my repertoire for identity




Marchionini, G. (1989). Information-seeking strategies of novices using a full-text electronic encyclopedia. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 40, 54-66.

Abstract 2

Writing this article in the late 1980s, Gary Marchionini of the University of Maryland observes that more and more “end users” are beginning to use electronic tools and databases when looking for information. By studying the search strategies of young information seekers as they interact with “electronic information systems (EIS),” Marchionini is able to present several interesting analyses of novice search behavior.
In this “exploratory study,” Marchionini studies and analyzes the searching strategies of 52 elementary school children who were using an electronic encyclopedia CD-Rom for the first time. The study is centered around four research questions, which try to ascertain the level of training novice users need to successfully search an EIS and what search patterns the majority of novices follow.
Marchionini wanted to get an idea of not only how information tools were used, but also of how novice users modeled their queries mentally.
In this study, the participating children were given two assigned searches -- one “open” search, and one “closed” search. The “closed” question was defined as such because it only had one correct answer; the “open” question was defined as such because it had a variety of possible answers. The children were given a limited amount of time to complete the tasks, and their success was recorded along with the time and number of research “moves” it took to get them there. From these data, Marchionini was able to see several trends, including that the children performed “closed” searches significantly more quickly and that older students performed searches more accurately and more quickly overall than younger students. Marchionini ultimately concludes that “novice users could successfully use a full-text, electronic encyclopedia with minimal introductory training.”

Pinelli, Thomas E. (1991). The information-seeking habits and practices of engineers. Science & Technology Libraries 11(3), 5-25. doi: 10.1300/J122v11n03_02.


This overview summarizes the differences between the fields of science and technology, and between the occupations of engineers and scientists, and how this impacts information-seeking habits. Technology focuses on finding solutions to specific problems, embodied in the form of end-items. Science focuses on understanding phenomena and producing knowledge from this understanding. Scientists operate in a social system of open discourse and information exchange, their goal is the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, and their reward is recognition within their field. Engineers operate in a social system of organizations and restricted information access, their goal is the creation of products, and their rewards are materialistic.
This affects information-seeking habits, as Pinelli illustrates through a selection of studies. Scientists rely on formal information systems, formal literature, and interpersonal communication with others outside their institution, and often seek information to maintain their knowledge state. Engineers utilize information sources to find answers to specific questions, and accessibility is the primary criterion for selecting a source of information. They rely on “personal” sources (their own knowledge, experimentation, their collection of resources) and other informal sources, especially contact with colleagues within the same organization. If literature is consulted, it is almost always technical literature. Libraries are rarely utilized. Considering the correlation of information access to innovation, Pinelli calls upon researchers to recognize the importance of these habits, and how they are distinct from that of scientists’.

Baker, L.M. (2004). The information needs of female Police Officers involved in undercover prostitution work. Information Research, 10(1), 10-1.


Police work has been under-studied in the information behavior literature and vice work even more so, since it is concerned with “victimless” crime and considered low priority police work. Baker uses the Information Seeking of Professionals (Leckie, Pettigrew & Sylvain, 1996) model as a framework for understanding the information needs and information seeking behavior of female vice officers who work as undercover decoys to catch prostitution solicitors.
Their situations are highly unique due to the specific training received, reliance on fellow officers and the critical need to constantly analyze their surroundings because they “never know what will happen because they deal predominantly with people who are engaging in illegal behavior.” The decoys’ specialized training involves role-playing and learning to ignore some previous police trainings to be more believable on the street. They also work in teams with extremely limited oral communication available so sending and receiving information through other signals is critical. Finally, they must know “the slang of the streets” and modify their language as needed for different neighborhoods and johns while also assessing any potential safety concerns.
Baker concludes that the Information Seeking for Professionals model is not appropriate for this scenario. The roles of decoys involve too much informal information, the context is too immediate and unpredictable, and the task of making a case is not the only potential outcome of this information seeking process.

Frank, P. (1999). Student artists in the library: An investigation of how they use general academic libraries for their creative needs. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 25(6), 445-55.


Frank’s study of student artist’s information seeking and searching behavior attempts to bridge the gap for this population in field research so that general academic librarians can better understand and accommodate these students. The study used a total of 181 undergraduate students from 12 colleges and universities in Minnesota. To be selected, students were required to have spent time in general libraries in relation to their studio work. Part of these criteria was also that all students must have a major in the visual arts. Moderators with experience in studio art and librarianship led 19 focus groups, each containing 4-12 students. Their experience is pertinent to the discussion because they are able to not only introduce exploratory topics into the conversation but can quickly concoct probe questions for clarified details.
Through these qualitative methods, moderators were able to extract and discuss actions, feelings, and thoughts about art student’s needs and library experiences with obtaining information in general libraries. Broad topics included; motivations for starting search, what kind of information is needed, preferred mediums for specific needs, library resources used and how they operate them, preferred browsing/ searching methods, level of success, areas of failure, and suggestions to libraries for enhancing their experience. Frank found that students used browsing methods predominately to find resources that inspire their projects, instruct on art techniques, or for assignments from professors.

Kari, Jarkko & Hartel, Jenna (2007). Information and higher things in life: Addressing the pleasurable and the profound in Information Science. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 58(8), 1131-1147.


Kari and Hartel discuss lower and higher contexts for information phenomena and argue that there is a distinct need for a more concerted research effort in the higher contexts. The authors define the lower things context as regarding the everyday life routines and problems that individuals encounter while the higher things context is defined by things other than coping, suffering, working, solving problems and performing tasks that fulfill our basic needs. Two basic categories of higher things are the pleasurable (enjoyable and satisfying) and the profound (deep and sublime). Information science has focused on the lower contexts that are often neutral or even negative by nature. In contrast, the neglected higher things in life are experiences that transcend the daily grind. The two contexts complement each other in the individual’s life, therefore Kari and Hartel argue that both sides should be studied in Information Science to provide a balanced view of information seeking processes.
The authors provide a literature review of the information research related to a higher things context and find that much has been overlooked in this area of study. The article discusses a contextual research area in information studies to address higher things from the perspective of information. Finally, Kari and Hartel conclude that in order to promote a holistic view of information, researchers should consider both the lower and higher things contexts in relation to one another.

higher versus lower needs
intersting metaphor
trying to invoke an old trope about the higher things in life
aesthetics is becoming so important in information seeking
it's really hard to pin it down; something appeals to you
all kinds of things tht we have aestethics/tasts about


Davenport, E. (2000). Social intelligence in the age of networks. Journal of Information Science, 26(3), 145-52.

Abstract 2

Elisabeth Davenport discusses the concept of “social intelligence”—information, communication, and knowledge that exists at the group level, not the level of atomic individuals or individual dyads traditionally studied by information scientists. Focusing on the business environment, she offers three examples of social intelligence: “social browsing,” “social formatting,” and “social filtering.” She explains how the new reality of digital online information and communication illuminates longstanding social intelligence practices by giving what was formerly mostly ephemeral a more visible, persistent footprint that may be traced, studied, and measured—sort of like old-fashioned water-cooler chat now being preserved as e-mail.
Social browsing concerns identifying trustworthy coworkers and project teammates in a fast-moving digital world where people may not interact face to face and trust must be built rapidly by other means. To build trust relationships, people rely on reputation as well as congeniality factors and shared interests to increase the probability of cognitive and emotional fit with previously unknown partners—like on a dating website. Social formatting relates to learning the tacit, often unenunciated special culture, language, practices, and beliefs of a new institution or workplace, which may be expressed visibly in “document genres” that reveal the standard tropes of institutional practice, the unwritten rules to follow. Social filtering essentially involves trusting and valuing online information based on evidence that others trust it—effectively a popularity contest along the lines of citation analysis. Davenport’s article, summarizing various earlier research, is descriptive rather than normative or critical, and tends to accept the new digital proxies for traditional trust-building at face value as legitimate and inevitable.

Sonnenwald, D.H. (1999). Evolving perspectives of human information behavior: Contexts, situations, social networks and information horizons. In T.D. Wilson and D. Allen (Eds.), Exploring the contexts of information behaviour, pp. 176-190. London: Taylor Graham.


Diane Sonnenwald’s framework for understanding information-seeking behavior suggests a shift from designing systems and structures to eliminate human intermediaries to creating densely populated information horizons to serve as rich sources of information. Sonnenwald notes the importance of thinking of human information behavior as a process involving cognitive, affective, and contextual factors. From this basis, Sonnenwald introduces five concepts to create a framework for understanding information seeking behavior.

The interconnectedness of individuals, social networks, situations, and contexts, as well as their roles in identifying, exploring, and providing resources for information needs is the first of these concepts. Further, Sonnenwald notes that information behavior is constructed in the midst of reflections on and evaluations of change. Unlike prior models, her framework includes the notable provision of information in contexts where no information need has been expressed, allowing for information sharing in anticipation of a yet-to-be-identified lack of knowledge. Information needs and the resources to sate them are determined socially and individually within what Sonnenwald calls an information horizon. Within information horizons, communication and collaboration tools are needed to share meaning and resolve knowledge gaps.

The challenge, she posits, is to understand how information horizons can be expanded to include appropriate resources. By thinking of information horizons as densely populated solution spaces with many possible solutions, Sonnenwald proposes a shift from the traditional path- based understanding of information retrieval to a model that expands the social network to include additional human experts and provide a richer, interconnected information source.

MT: it's as if experience shifts through different contexts-->omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience
think about the metaphor of information horizon
horizon is entirely dependent on your position in space
horizon is everything in the world
the entirety of what is out there to be known
Sonnenwald wants to put context located somewhere within this information landscape

study to parse out context using a couple of more scientific measurements: linguistic articulation in order to better assess meaning in an interpersonal interaction
Kuhlthau's inter-redundancy theory
conversation is the metaphor (topic and comment)
very rigid conception of the conversation
but it's moving toward a
come away form an interaction having
inter-reduncdancy defines the context, it's a signpost of the norms, agreements, disagreements, gives a sense of meaning at that moment, in that place, with that person

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library anxiety and relationship to context
one way Constance Mellon is bringing that technique over into the work with freshman writing students, but secondly , journaling itself is a way for individuals to articulate context for themselves; rather than saying "here's the box" the journal helps you define the box for yourself; distinction between formal document and journal
MT: journaling as an information process

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Reading for this week
Case Ch 11 Notes

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