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Information Encountering: It's More Than Just Bumping into Information

  • Simmons University


There is, however, emerging interest among LIS researchers in information encountering. Williamson, Reneker and Zhang discuss accidental discovery of information in the context of a broader study of users' information behavior. Erdelez and Williamson focus specifically on information encountering and incidental information acquisition. (See Further Reading.) It is also important to note that accidental discovery of information has received more research in some other fields, such as "incidental learning" in education, serendipity of scientific discoveries in history of science and accidental discovery of managerial information in the management literature, than it has in LIS. Studying information encountering poses some interesting methodological problems for researchers. First, because information encountering is unexpected, it may be difficult to study it under time and space constraints of an experimental environment. The most practical solution may be to ask users to recall their information encountering experiences. But to what extent do users recognize information encountering as a unique phenomenon? Can they discuss it with a researcher? My research proves that these concerns are unfounded. A majority of participants in my information encountering study, when asked about their past experiences of "bumping into information," were familiar with the notion of accidental discovery of information and could recall these experiences clearly.
... Curiosity and alertness. Being alert to a potentially meaningful trigger-and making sense out of it-is at the core of experiencing serendipity (Busch and Barkema 2020;Cunha et al. 2010;Erdelez 1999;Kirzner 1979;Merton and Barber 2004). Research in psychology and management has shown that alertness and the desire to know or learn ("curiosity") are paramount to noticing unexpected moments and events (Diaz de Chumaceiro 2004;Napier and Vuong 2013). ...
... Much of the extant research tends to be qualitative or experimental in nature. First attempts to measure serendipity (e.g., Busch 2020a;Busch 2022;Erdelez 1999;Fultz and Hmieleski 2021;McCay-Peet and Toms 2012;Makri and Blandford 2012) have focused on particular aspects of the process. Interesting insights could borrow but also distinguish from related constructs and concepts such as originality (e.g., Grant 2017), novelty (e.g., Toms 2000), interestingness (e.g., Andre et al. 2009), absorptive capacity (e.g., Zahra and George 2002), or unexpectedness (e.g., Adamopoulos and Tuzhilin 2015). ...
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Serendipity is at the core of many innovations, inventions, and entrepreneurial opportunities. However, despite its importance for organisations and individuals alike, research on the dimensions and antecedents of serendipity is surprisingly scarce. In this chapter, Christian Busch and Matthew Grimes review and synthesize research on serendipity in the entrepreneurship, strategy, and innovation context, and suggest a novel conceptualisation of the process of (cultivating) serendipity. They thereby provide the reader with a thorough and wide-ranging view of how serendipity has come into the fore in the field of organization and management, but also what possibilities it opens up for understanding and creating the conditions for entrepreneurial success. They advance a process-oriented model of serendipity that serves as a basis to elaborate factors that increase the chances for serendipitous encounters and how to capitalize on them. Amongst those, Busch and Grimes distinguish between individual (including reframing, extrovertedness and perseverance) and organizational factors (including systematic evaluations, iteration and team-based collaboration). Their paper, thereby, advances the conceptual understanding of serendipity as much as a theory of how to transfer this understanding successfully into the entrepreneurial context.
... McKenzie (2003) found inspiration in Williamson's model for her own model of everyday-life information seeking. Ross (1999) and Erdelez (1999) In Williamson's ecological model, the individual is considered to be at the center of a series of concentric circles. These circles represent sources of information and the effect they have on the information acquisition of the individual. ...
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Doctoral Dissertation: This study examined the relationship that personal, economic, and social-relational factors have with the development of digital literacy skills among rural older adults who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on ecological theories proposed by Kim and Moen (wellbeing) and Williamson (information behavior) and using modified questions from existing, validated surveys of the target population (Health and Retirement Survey, Jones-Jang et al. study of digital literacy), this study surveyed older adults in rural, western Kansas. The findings of this study indicate strong interrelationships between personal, economic, and social-relational factors and the three digital literacy indicators (information literacy scores, trust in interpersonal information sources, and trust in mass media information sources) among rural, independently living older Kansans. As the rural, independent-living, older adult population is rarely studied in any discipline, let alone library and information science, this study also provides a unique contribution to the scholarly corpus of the field and may inform future research to examine the lives and information needs of rural older adults.
Purpose In this study, the distinctive functional features of linked data (LD) catalogues were investigated to contrast with existing online public access catalogues (OPACs) and discovery systems using a checklist approach. The checklist was derived from a literature review and is composed of 10 items as follows: self-descriptive and dynamic content for resource description, linkage to external LD sources and online services, aggregation of knowledge contexts into knowledge graphs (KGs), URI-based link discovery, representation and query of LD relationships, URI-based serendipitous discovery, keyword recommendation, faceted limitation and browsing, visualization and openness of data. Design/methodology/approach Ten functional features derived from the literature were checked against existing LD catalogues offered by libraries, archives and museums (LAMs). The LD catalogues were regarded as qualified subjects if they offered functional features that were distinct from current OPACs and discovery systems through URI-based enrichment and aggregation from various LD sources. In addition to individual organizations, LD union catalogues were also included. However, LD hubs, such as ISNI, OCLC WorldCat Entities, VIAF and Wikidata, were excluded. In total, six LD catalogues from LAMs were selected as subjects for examination. Findings First, LD catalogues provide similar KG information through URI combination, and KGs also facilitate information serendipity, including social-document, intellectual, conceptual, spatial and temporal contexts and networks of corporate bodies, persons and families (CPFs). Second, LD catalogues have transformed the “seek first and browse later” paradigm into a “seek or browse” paradigm by refreshing the browsing function of traditional card catalogues with preview and new options to facilitate LD identification and discovery. Third, LD catalogues have refined keyword recommendation with the addition of the following fields: person’s title, CPF relationships, entity type and LD source. Lastly, a virtual union LD catalogue is offered. Research limitations/implications The proposed checklist revealed the unique/improved functional features of LD catalogues, allowing further investigation and comparison. More cases from the fields of medicine, engineering science and so on will be required to make revisions to fine-tune the proposed checklist approach. Originality/value To the best of the author’s knowledge, this is the first study to propose a checklist of functional features for LD catalogues and examine what the results and features of LD catalogues have achieved and are supported by from ontologies across LAMs. The findings suggest that LD provides a viable alternative to catalogues. The proposed checklist and results pave the way for the future development of LD catalogues and next-generation catalogues and also provide a basis for the future study of LD catalogues from other fields to refine the proposed checklist.
Open Government Data (OGD) pose that public organisations should freely share data for anyone to reuse without restrictions. However, the rawness of this data proves to be a challenge for data or information seekers. OGD-based solutions, such as interactive maps and dashboards, could help seekers overcome this difficulty and use OGD to satisfy needs, helping them to work effectively, solve problems, or pursue hobbies. However, there are several challenges that need to be considered when designing solutions, such as seekers wanting to solve problems rather than consuming information and aiming for quick wins over quality. Previous research has classified OGD solutions, focusing on general concepts. The next step is to reveal helpful patterns in OGD solutions, helping seekers. This paper presents a taxonomy with 24 criteria to classify these patterns. It was tested on 40 OGD solutions, and the resulting classifications were grouped in a cluster analysis, identifying 16 key criteria and 6 clusters. The clusters are (1) simple-personalised, (2) proactive multi-visual, (3) lightly-facilitated exploration, (4) facilitated data-management, (5) facilitated information exploration, and (6) horizon solutions. One unexpected finding is that helpful patterns do not cluster following themes, types, or purposes of solutions. Another finding is that the importance of key criteria varies between the clusters.KeywordsOpen Government Datasolutiontaxonomyclassificationcluster analysisinformation behaviour
Purpose Websites, search engines, recommender systems, artificial intelligence and digital libraries have the potential to support serendipity for unexpected interaction with information and ideas which would lead to favored information discoveries. This paper aims to explore the current state of research into serendipity particularly related to information encountering. Design/methodology/approach This study provides bibliometric review of 166 studies on serendipity extracted from the Web of Science. Two bibliometric analysis tools HisCite and RStudio (Biblioshiny) are used on 30 years of data. Citation counts and bibliographic records of the papers are assessed using HisCite. Moreover, visualization of prominent sources, countries, keywords and the collaborative networks of authors and institutions are assessed using RStudio (Biblioshiny) software. A total of 166 papers on serendipity were found from the period 1989 to 2022, and the most influential authors, articles, journals, institutions and countries among these were determined. Findings The highest numbers of 11 papers were published in the year 2019. Makri and Erdelez are the most influential authors for contributing studies on serendipity. “ Journal of Documentation ” is the top-ranking journal. University College London is the prominent affiliation contributing highest number of studies on serendipity. The UK and the USA are the prominent nations contributing highest number of research. Authorship pattern for research on serendipity reveals involvement of single author in majority of the studies. OA Green model is the most preferred model for archiving of research articles by the authors who worked on serendipity. In addition, majority of the research outputs have received a citation ranging from 0 to 50. Originality/value To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper may be the first bibliometric analysis on serendipity research using bibliometric tools in library and information science studies. The paper would definitely open new avenues for other serendipity researchers.
Samantha Copeland takes this chapter to delve into the history of philosophy of science, paying particular attention to the discussions around scientific discovery and the assumptions made by philosophers along the way about what parts of the discovery process can and cannot be studied. Copeland suggests that serendipity research might shed light on what has been left outside of philosophical investigation. She focusses in particular on the seeming ‘leap’ that scientists must take when discoveries happen, between a state of not-knowing to a state of recognizing the scientific value of an observation or event. Most philosophical accounts tend towards internalism (that is, assuming the important steps in discovery occur only in the mind), or the focus remains on what happens after an accident or chance encounter rather than on the encounter itself. Copeland offers an alternative interpretation from the perspective of her serendipity research, on what the interaction between chance and reason can tell us about scientific discovery more generally. That is, she argues, the intersection of chance and wisdom provides philosophy with the opportunity to better understand how our minds interact with the world to produce knowledge.
We examine the relationship between geographic distance and corporate tax avoidance in China and find that the closer a firm is to the tax bureau, the less it is likely to avoid tax. This is in sharp contrast to the findings documented by Kubick et al. for U.S. public firms. We argue that this is the result of the local tax bureau collecting more information about the firm instead of the firm collecting more information about tax audits as suggested by Kubick et al. We attribute the different results to the tax system difference between China and the United States, as it is easier for the tax officials in China to collect information about the tax-paying firms. Cross-sectional analyses considering firm age or functional proximity provide further corroborating evidence.
This study used an ethnographic approach to explore the information practices of members of a religious organisation, the globalised Mahamevnawa Buddhist Temple. It was informed by an information practices theoretical perspective, complementing theoretical and practical work from Schatzki, Bourdieu, Lloyd and Olsson, and Gherardi, with work from a variety of disciplines, including Castells’ work on networked society, Sassen’s work on globalised organisations and Sack’s work on space and place. The study’s concern is with three aspects of this approach: what are the practices of monks and devotees of the Temple, what are the outcomes of these practices and how do monks and devotees understand the notion of the Temple. In this insider study, data was gathered from participant observation, interviews with both monks and devotees and email follow-ups, and analysis of the online presence of the temple through its website and other social media sites. The findings show that participants’ information practices lead to a range of outcomes, expressed in terms of the Bourdieusian notion of capital, with karmic capital emerging as a very important outcome of these practices. They also show how participants think the Temple exists not just in space but also in time, through temporary place. A key contribution of this study, situated in the context of the non-Western context of the Sri Lankan Buddhist diaspora, is its challenges to Western assumptions about information practices and their outcomes.
The role of information which is incidentally or accidentally acquired has been neglected in the study of information-seeking behavior. The study reported in this article focused on “incidental information acquisition” as a key concept and investigated the information-seeking behavior of 202 older adults, aged 60 and over, from both metropolitan Melbourne and rural areas in the Australian state of Victoria. The approach to the study was ecological in the sense that a picture was built up of information seeking in the context of the lives of the people in the sample, both individually and collectively. A particular and unusual focus of the study was the role of telecommunications, especially the telephone, in information seeking. The implications for society's systems of information provision are discussed, together with ramifications of the finding that older people will be slower than other groups to accept computer-based sources of information for everyday life.Everyone has some set of habits or routines for keeping his internal model of the world up to date…. We have friends, relatives, work associates, and acquaintances to whom we talk regularly and with whom we exchange news and views. We have habits of reading and watching and listening to public vehicles of communication—newspapers, television, radio, magazines and books. These are not random, but patterned activities…. [I]nformation is in part acquired because it is deliberately sought…. It is also found where it is not specifically sought, as an accidental concomitant of routine activities with other purposes or as pure accident.… [I]t is clear that we could describe individual patterns of information-gathering activity, both where the search for information was the primary motive and where it was incidental….(Wilson, 1977, pp. 36–37).
This study was conducted to provide an initial understanding of information encountering, a form of information behavior that involves accidental acquisition of information. The study addressed the two broad research questions: (1) What are the characteristics of information encountering? and 2) How does information encountering relate to users' information behavior?The study used exploratory research design and qualitative data collection and analysis methods. An open-ended survey was used to collect information encountering experiences from 132 respondents in an academic environment. The survey was followed by in-depth interviews with 12 respondents. Inductive data analysis involved the content analysis and faceted classification of study data to identify the characteristics of four dimensions of information encountering: user, environment, information, and problem.The study found that respondents encountered information while performing both information and non-information related activities. There was a change in the types of feelings and thoughts experienced by respondents before and after information encountering. The respondents most often encountered information when in environments that specifically provide information services, but also in environments where information service was not the primary function. Information encountered by respondents included both interest and problem types of information, including present, past, and future problems, and also both active and passive problems. It was also identified that respondents encountered information across various functional problem areas and personal roles.Regarding the relationship among information encountering and information behavior, the study suggested that information encountering was an integral element of browsing and information seeking activities performed by study respondents. Information encountering reinforced browsing by bringing satisfaction to respondents' browsing activities. In the context of information seeking, information encountering shifted respondents across time, parallel problems, and different subject areas.
Cover title. Thesis (Doctor of Library Science)--Columbia University, 1992. Includes bibliographical references (p. 216-224).
Thesis (Ph.D.) -- Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, 1996. Includes bibliographical references.
Information seeking in context. Proceedings of an international conference on research in information needs, seeking, and use in different contexts, Tampere, Finland 1996
  • S Erdelez
Older adults: Information, communication and telecommunications. Unpublished doctoral dissertation
  • K Williamson
Information-seeking patterns and behavior of selected undergraduate students in a Chinese university
  • X Zhang
Information encountering: A conceptual framework for accidental information discovery In Information seeking in context. Proceedings of an international conference on research in information needs, seeking, and use in different contexts
  • S Erdelez
  • P Savolainen
  • R Dervin
Information seeking among members of an academic community. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Columbia University
  • M Reneker