DS-2018-02: Supporting the Complex Dynamics of the Information Seeking Process

DS-2018-02: Huurdeman, Hugo (2018) Supporting the Complex Dynamics of the Information Seeking Process. Doctoral thesis, University of Amsterdam.

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The World Wide Web, just 25 years after its inception, has become ingrained in nearly every aspect of our daily lives. The traces of our increasingly ‘digital’ lives and society captured in the web are an highly valuable resource for current and future researchers. However, the content on the web is at risk: at every tick of the clock, websites emerge, change and vanish. The highly ephemeral nature of the web has led to numerous initiatives to perform web archiving. Despite their potential value, web archives have been scarcely used for research thus far. This lack of scholarly use of web archives was this thesis’ starting point.
In the first part of this work, we look specifically at search access to web archives in a media and communication research context. Web archives increasingly provide search functionality to access their contents, extending the range of research options for scholars. However, despite the clear value of search-based access, we find that this type of access also obscures a myriad of underlying variables, resulting in a lack of transparency. This leads us to experiment with methods to reconstruct and reveal what is not contained in the archive. Furthermore, we uncover a lack of process support: search systems for web archives do not yet provide appropriate support for activities in different phases of a scholar’s research process.
The dynamic nature of information seeking in current system-mediated research processes leads us to further investigate the complex information seeking process in part two of this thesis. Inspired by models which document an intricate set of stages, documenting evolving feelings, thoughts and actions of a searcher, we reveal a lack of understanding in two directions. On the one hand, the implications of macro-level stages for micro-level search system design are fuzzy, and on the other hand, the exact support various existing micro-level search system features offer for macro-level stages is unclear. Our studies observe evidence for macro-level stages by studying the flow of user interaction with search systems. This may involve both active interaction (queries and clicks) and passive interaction (eye and mouse pointer movements). Using these measures, we distinguish stage-insensitive and stage-sensitive search user interface features, which could be adapted to a user’s information seeking stage. This way, more dynamic support for the information search process may be achieved.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Report Nr: DS-2018-02
Series Name: ILLC Dissertation (DS) Series
Year: 2018
Depositing User: Dr Marco Vervoort
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2022 15:17
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2022 15:17
URI: https://eprints.illc.uva.nl/id/eprint/2151

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