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Evolving Perspectives of Human Information Behavior: Contexts, Situations, Social Networks and Information Horizons



This paper presents an evolving framework of human information behavior. The framework emerges from theories and empirical studies from a variety of research traditions, including information science, communication, sociology and psychology, that inform our understanding of human information behaviour. First, fundamental concepts, such as context, situation, and social networks, are discussed. Using these concepts, a series of propositions that strive to elucidate, that is, prove a framework for exploring, human information behaviour are proposed. Information exploration, seeking, filtering, use and dissemination, are included (to varying degrees) in the framework. The framework also incorporates cognitive, social and system perspectives. A key concept in the framework is the notion of an "information horizon" in which individuals can act. Information horizons, which may consist of a variety of information resources, are determined socially and individually, and may be conceptualized as densely populated solution spaces. In a densely populated solution space, many solutions are assumed, and the information retrieval problem expands from determining the most efficient path to the best solution, to determining how to make possible solutions visible--to an individual(s) and to other information resources.
Evolving Perspectives of Human Information Behavior:
Contexts, Situations, Social Networks and Information Horizons
Diane H. Sonnenwald
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC USA
This paper presents an evolving framework of human information behavior. The framework
emerges from theories and empirical studies from a variety of research traditions, including
information science, communication, sociology and psychology, that inform our understanding of
human information behavior. First, fundamental concepts, such as context, situation, and social
networks, are discussed. Using these concepts, a series of propositions that strive to elucidate,
that is, provide a framework for exploring, human information behavior are proposed.
Information human information behavior, including information exploration, seeking, filtering,
use, and communication, are included (to varying degrees) in the framework. The framework
also incorporates cognitive, social, and system perspectives. A key concept in the framework is
the notion of an “information horizon.” Within any context and situation is an “information
horizon” in which individuals can act. Information horizons, which may consist of a variety of
information resources, are determined socially and individually, and may be conceptualized as
densely populated solution spaces. In a densely populated solution space, many solutions are
assumed, and the information retrieval problem expands from determining the most efficient
path to the best solution, to determining how to make possible solutions visible -- to an
individual(s) and to other information resources.
1. Introduction
This paper presents an evolving theoretical framework for human information behavior,
including information exploration, seeking, filtering, use, and communication. It is based on
empirical studies of human information behavior in a variety of settings (Iivonen & Sonnenwald,
1998; Sonnenwald, 1993, 1995, 1996) and theories from a variety of research traditions,
including information science, communication, sociology and psychology that inform our
understanding of human information behavior. I begin formulating the framework by discussing
fundamental concepts, such as context, situation and social networks. Building on these
concepts, I propose a series of propositions that strive to elucidate the framework. Key ideas in
the framework include the introduction of the role of social networks in information behavior, and
the concept of an “information horizon” in which we can act.
1.1 Related Research in Human Information Behavior
In her seminal work, Kuhlthau (1993) proposed a model of the information search process.
In her model, the information search process is divided into seven stages: task initiation, topic
selection, prefocus exploration, focus formulation, information collection, search closure and
starting writing. Kuhlthau identified feelings, thoughts, actions, strategies and moods for each
stage. She also proposed the “uncertainty principle” in information behavior, i.e., “uncertainty
due to a lack of understanding, a gap in meaning, a limited construct initiates the process of
information seeking.” (Kuhlthau, 1993, p. xxiii) The principle further asserts that uncertainty is a
cognitive state which causes anxiety and stress and that can be expected in the early stages of
Published in:
Wilson, T. & Allen, D. (Eds.) (1999). Exploring the Contexts of Information Behaviour
(pp. 176-190.) London: Taylor Graham.
the information search process. Thus, Kuhlthau’s information search process model and
uncertainty principle highlight the importance of viewing human information behavior as a
process, and understanding that cognitive and affective components influence human
information behavior.
Wilson (1996) proposed an inter-disciplinary, general model of human information behavior.
In particular, Wilson draws on research in health information, advertising, economics,
communication and organizational behavior. His model includes the following elements:
character, or context, of an information need; activating mechanism, including stress/coping
theory, that links needs and action; intervening variables (or barriers to seeking information),
including psychological, demographic, role-related or interpersonal, environmental, and source
characteristics; activating mechanism (or the decision to engage in information seeking
behavior), including risk/reward theory and social learning theory. He proposes that these
elements combine in a linear sequence to yield information seeking behavior, including passive
attention, passive search, active search and ongoing search behavior. From his work, we see
the importance of drawing on research outside our field; it adds richness and details to our
Belkin (1993) focuses on information seeking behavior in the context of information retrieval
(IR) systems. While not proposing a general information seeking model per se, his work informs
general models. In particular, he proposes a set of information seeking strategies that
incorporate the goal of the interaction (learn/select), method of interaction (scan/search), mode
of retrieval (recognize/specify), and type of resource (information/meta-information). He further
suggests that users should share control and responsibilities with systems, and that during the
IR process, users interact with texts (including humans who provide information.) Thus, Belkin
contributes to information seeking behavior models by suggesting behaviors and aspects of
processes that occur when individuals search for information in IR systems.
Ingwersen (1996) also focuses on information retrieval aspects of human information
behavior. Stressing the cognitive perspective, Ingwersen proposes a polyrepresentation
approach. That is, the individual user’s cognitive space, including work task or interest, current
cognitive state, problem or goal, uncertainty, information need and information behavior, and the
social or organizational environment, including domains, strategies or goals, and tasks and
preferences, should be represented in IR systems. This approach highlights the importance of
cognitive and situational components in human information behavior.
These works combine to suggest the importance of investigating human information
behavior as a process, taking into account cognitive, affective and contextual factors, and using
research from multiple disciplines to increase our understanding of human information behavior.
The framework presented in this paper builds on these ideas.
2. Fundamental Concepts
It is always difficult to conclusively define concepts; we use them throughout our work and
yet often our definitions remain inadequate and ambiguous. For example, the concept “set” is a
fundamental concept in the branch of mathematics referred to as “Set Theory.” Yet, what is a
‘set”? It has been defined as “any collection of definite, distinguishable objects of our intuition or
of our intellect to be conceived as a whole” (Stoll, 1963, p.2). This definition begs the question:
what is a collection? One could suggest a collection is a group; yet, what is a group? The
circularity of this argument continues. However, it can be useful to discuss fundamental
concepts so we may begin to develop a shared understanding and usage, and establish
relationships with other concepts.
2.1 Context
One fundamental concept emerging in the field of information studies is “context” because
context is seen as provided a source of meaning for human information behavior (Dervin, 1997).
The dictionary defines “context” as “the circumstances in which a particular event or situation
occurs” and “the essence of a group of events” (American Heritage Dictionary, 1985, pp. 316).
Expanding on these definitions, the definition of “context” used in this paper is “the quintessence
of a set (or group) of past, present and future situations.” There is usually some shared
understanding of a context by its participants; this shared understanding need not be identical or
complete (Schutz & Luckman, 1973).
Examples of contexts, then, include academia, family life, citizenship, clubs. Each of these
contexts has boundaries, constraints and privileges as perceived by participants and outsiders.
The perceived boundaries may not be identical across all participants and non-participants, yet
many could agree on some of the boundaries. That is, there is some shared understanding
about the context. For example, many researchers in academia would agree that writing journal
and conference papers is more typically done within the context of academia than the context of
family life. That is, writing papers is within the boundaries of the academic context and outside
the boundaries of family life. We frequently speak of context in our everyday worlds; we speak
of “the larger context;” “in the smaller context;” “in the broader context, “ “in a narrower context,”
“in a more well-defined context.” These phrases help illustrate that the boundaries of contexts
are malleable, that is, flexible and subject to change. We can negotiate the boundaries.
Contexts are multi-dimensional in that they can be described by a variety of attributes
(Dervin, 1997). The identification of attributes and their importance to information behavior is an
active research issue. Examples of attributes that have been used to describe contexts include
place, time, goals, tasks, systems, situations, processes, organizations and types of participants
(e.g., see Taylor, 1991). Difficulties arise when attempting to exhaustively characterize a
context. For example, as Simon (1981) points out, a bird’s eye view of an ant walking between
two points along a sandy beach shows a seemingly erratic path. It is only when we view the
ant’s path from a 3-dimensional perspective and notice the hills and valleys caused by the
grains of sand that we begin to realize that the ant’s path is ingenious, not erratic. “Digger
deeper” when conducting research on human information behavior, as suggested by Dervin
(1997), helps researchers to understand the relationships among factors and human information
Characterizing contexts is further complicated because contexts are not discrete entities;
two or more contexts may share common attributes. For example, a faculty member may be a
teacher, researcher and administrator. From an outsider’s perspective, it may be difficult to
determine when the faculty’s behavior is attributable to the context of teaching, research or
administration. An individual may concurrently try to satisfy constraints of different contexts,
e.g., as happens when a parent bringing children to the office when no other child-care options
exist for them. We often learn more about contexts when conflicts among contexts emerge.
2.2 Situations
A second fundamental concept is situations. Within each context, a flow of situations arise.
For example, within the context of academia, teaching a course and attending a committee
meeting are two different types of situations. The phrase, “the context of a situation,” helps
illustrate the relationship between contexts and situations. A context is somehow larger than a
situation and may consist of a variety of situations; different contexts may have different possible
types of situations. A situation may be characterized as a set of related activities, or a set of
related stories, that occur over time. That is, we can characterize or describe situations by
actions or behavior that occur over time, and which are perceived as being connected by
participants and/or outsiders. For example, when explaining actions that occur among people
working together on a project or in an organization, phrases such as “The situation is…”; “The
situation in a nutshell is…”; “In this situation…”; and “That’s the situation” are commonly used in
introducing and concluding the explanation.
Individuals might describe the same situation somewhat differently. That is, individuals
might see different connections among actions based on their previous experiences and
knowledge of similar situations or because they have privileged access to information about
actions. For example, employees at higher levels in an organization often have information
about upper management actions that other employees do not have access to. Thus, their
description of a situation involving upper management might differ from another person’s
description. However, when descriptions of the same situation share nothing in common, we
tend to think the person offering a unique description is insane, or if time proves the individual
correct, a genius.
Situations within any given context are not necessarily linearly-ordered discrete events. For
example, while creating a syllabus for a graduate course (a situation that occurs within the
context of academia), a faculty member may receive a call from a spouse and discuss personal,
family issues (a situation that occurs within the context of family life). In this sense, situations
can be rapidly inter-leaved.
Social network
Figure 1. Simple case of a social network
within a given situation and context
2.3 Social Networks
A third concept fundamental to this paper is “social networks.” This concept has been used
in communication and social science, and it refers to communication among individuals, in
particular, patterns of connection and resonance interaction (Wellman & Berkowitz, 1997).
Different social network structures may exist, including a star configuration, chain or isolates (a
social network of one.) These structures can be important (e.g., Sonnenwald, 1995) but they
are not the focus of this paper. For a review of social network theory, see Chatman (1992.)
Social networks help construct situations and contexts, and are constructed by situations
and contexts. For example, one explanation with respect to why some learners dislike one-way
broadcast distance learning courses is that the courses do not provide a social network for the
learner; sustaining a learner’s interest over time can be difficult without social interaction.
To explore the relationship among social networks, situations and contexts, consider the
simplest case, illustrated in Figure 1. Within a particular context, a given situation occurs. In the
context and situation, there is a social network. Individuals are members of the social network.
Many members of the social network are participants in the situation but not all. An example of
this case is an academic faculty meeting in which most, but not all, faculty members participate.
Another example is a class session when not all members of the class attend, and a
organizational meeting in which not all organization members attend.
We can build on the concepts of context, situations and social networks to explore human
information behavior.
3. Propositions
Following are propositions that strive to describe human information behavior. The
propositions aim to provide insights into human behavior. These insights suggest future
research topics and information services and systems, including digital library services. The
propositions build on previous research in the field of information studies, communication and
Proposition 1: Human information behavior is woven around, i.e., is shaped by and shapes,
individuals, social networks, situations and contexts.
Human information behavior is shaped by individuals, social networks, situations and
contexts. Researchers including Belkin (1980), Kuhlthau (1993), Dervin (1997), Ingwersen
(1996) and others have proposed that context and situation play a role in information behavior.
Other researchers, such as Berger and Luckman (1966), have proposed that individuals and
social networks construct reality. Chatman (1993, 1996), Taylor (1991) and others point out
that social networks play an important role in providing information as well as hindering
information seeking behavior. Combining these ideas leads to this proposition. That is, an
individual, within a particular situation and context, may encounter an information need; the
situation and context help determine the information need.
This proposition suggests that social networks play a role in this process as well. Social
networks provide a lens that facilitates the identification and exploration of information needs.
Furthermore, the individual, social network, situation and context may help determine the
information resources available to satisfy the need. For example, a major task for Ph.D.
students is to identify a “good” research question and the resources required to explore, or
address, the question. The individual student, their social network (e.g., their committee), the
situation (doctoral dissertation task), and context (department, discipline, state of the art, etc.)
help shape the question and available resources. In turn, the question and its answer may help
shape the individual, social network, situation and context.
Perception of movement/change
Lack of knowledge
of info need
Decision to seek info
Selection of info
resource and access strategy
Figure 2. Possible reactions to change in a situation
Decision to
postpone or
to jump ahead
Relevant info
Proposition 2: Individuals or systems within a particular situation and context, may perceive,
reflect and/or evaluate change in others, self, and/or their environment. Information behavior is
constructed amidst a flow of such reflections and/or evaluations, in particular, amidst reflections
and/or evaluations concerning a lack of knowledge
In situations, there is always change, or movement. This perception of change is embedded
within the ASK model (Belkin, 1980) and sense-making theory (Dervin, 1983). It is made explicit
here to include the phenomena of information provisioning without an expressed information
need or query. This may occur when members of a social network perceive a change and
conclude that another member needs, or may need, information that they have and are willing to
share. For example, at a project team meeting when someone new enters the room, a team
member may immediately introduce the person when the team member knows that others do
not know, or was not expecting, the person to join the meeting. This type of behavior has also
been mimicked in systems that scan information resources for articles that may interest users
based on previous knowledge of the user.
We perceive change, and may reflect and evaluate it (Gibson, 1979). Results of the
reflection and evaluation may include: recognition (remembrance) or interpretation of the
change; a decision to postpone further reflection on the change; a decision to ignore the
change; recognition of a lack of knowledge about the change; a reflex response (such as
blinking when an object comes near your eye or an automatic response of “what?” when
interrupted or startled); a decision to jump ahead in the reflexive process, for example the
implementation of a rule, script or action schema that provides prescription guidelines for
human information behavior in stereotypical situations and contexts (such as asking “How are
you?” after saying hello to a person); or relevant information about the change could be provided
from other sources (see Figure 2).
As mentioned above, the reflection/evaluation of change may give rise to a lack of
knowledge condition. That is, the individual may perceive they do not have the knowledge
necessary to understand or interpret the change. At this point, the individual may reflect on
and/or evaluate their lack of knowledge. Results of this reflection/evaluation may be similar to
the reflection/evaluation when the individual perceived the change. For example, the individual
may decide to postpone further reflection/evaluation or ignore their lack of knowledge (e.g.,
when a person assumes it is not worth their trouble), etc. However, the individual may also
decide they have an information need that emerges from their lack of knowledge. As illustrated
in Figure 2, a perceived lack of knowledge is explicitly differentiated from an information need.
An individual may perceive they lack knowledge yet not believe they have an information need
as a result. For example, a reader may not recognize the name of an actor in a newspaper
article, and believe they do not need to know anything about the actor. Reflection and/or
evaluation of an information need may yield a decision to seek information, and ultimately,
selection of an information resource(s) and access strategy(ies) and use of information.1
These reflections and evaluations appear to be motivated by accommodation with self,
others and the environment, often with some form of dominance. For example, accommodation
with self may include accommodating personal feelings such as uncertainty and confusion, as
discovered by Kuhlthau (1993). Accommodation with others may include considering how
others could affect your career, and accommodation with the environment may include
considering the impact your actions may have on the environment. Accommodation with self,
others and the environment concurrently may not always be possible. In these instances,
reflections and/or evaluations may be motivated by accommodation to the most dominant.
In Figure 2, this process is illustrated as a linear process. However, it need not be linear; it
is simply easier to illustrate and discuss it as a linear process. In fact, the flow of these
reflections and evaluations could be dynamic in the sense they could be interrupted at any time,
or interwoven with other processes. The complexity of these reflections and evaluations and
complexity of the process of these reflections and evaluations is, perhaps, unique to conscious
human beings. Many animals exhibit a “stimulus-response” reaction to changes, and scientists
are beginning to gain insights into how other animals, such as dolphins, may reflect before
responding. However, human information behavior appears to be unique in its complexity and
richness of reflection and evaluation, and subsequent behavior. The nature and process of
these reflections and evaluations are complex research questions. Issues include: how
individual preferences, social networks, situations and contexts combine to influence the
process; what evaluation criteria are used; what intervention measures can be effective when
the process fails to reach a satisfactory conclusion for the individual.
1 Of course, the selection of information resources and access strategies, and use of information
could be multiple steps, however, a detailed discussion of these steps is outside the scope of this
Figure 3. A graphical representation of a typical information horizon
for an engineer
Experimentation &
Environmental scanner
Trade magazines,
journals & newspapers
Subject matter
& vendor
Proposition 3: Within a context and situation is an “information horizon” in which we can act.
When an individual has decided to seek information, there is an information horizon in which
they can seek information. An information horizon may consist of a variety of information
resources such as: social networks, including colleagues, subject matter experts, reference
librarians, information brokers, etc.; documents, including broadcast media, web pages, books,
etc.; information retrieval tools, including computer-based information retrieval systems,
bibliographies, etc.; and experimentation and observation in the world. Figure 3 illustrates a
typical information horizon for an engineering (based on Sonnenwald, 1993; 1996). The
information horizon consists of the individual engineer, experimentation and observation in the
world, subject matter experts (including clients and users), and team members. Typically
resources that are in the information horizon but used less frequently include project and vendor
documents, trade magazines, journals, and newspapers. Often an environmental scanner will
scan books, electronic lists, subject matter experts, project and vendor documents, and trade
magazines, etc. for information that the individual and team members may need based on the
environmental scanner’s knowledge of their work or explicit requests
Information horizons, and subsequently information resources, are determined socially and
individually for situations and contexts. For example, reviewers of academic papers help
determine the references, i.e., information resources, that should be used in a paper.
Reviewers may also discount an academic paper if “non-academic” resources, such as trade
magazines, are cited as reliable, theoretical resources in a paper. In other situations and
contexts, trade magazines are considered excellent sources of information. In some situations
and contexts, an information horizon may be bounded by social economics and politics. For
example, faculty and students at universities with limited resources do not have access to on-
line bibliographic services or other information resources available in larger, research
universities. Of course, individuals also shape their information horizons. For example,
individual knowledge of possible resources and preferences may help determine an individual’s
information horizon. Thus, information horizons are determined socially and individually.
Furthermore, information resources in an information horizon may have knowledge of each
other and the individual, and may recommend resources to satisfy an information need or lack of
knowledge. For example, a colleague may recommend a book or another colleague as a
resource, and television news programs recommend web sites to their viewers as sources of
information. In this way, an information resource may expand an individual’s information
Information resources may also proactively provide information based on their
understanding of an individual’s lack of knowledge or information need. Examples of such
services include listservs, newspapers, and colleagues who offer information.
This proposition suggests the importance and possibilities for digital library resources (as
well as traditional library resources) to have knowledge of other resources to recommend those
resources when appropriate to meet users’ needs. It also suggests digital libraries (and
traditional libraries) should include communication or collaboration tools to facilitate information
seeking and dissemination among individuals, social networks, human intermediaries, and
subject matter experts, etc.
Proposition 4: Human information behavior may, ideally, be viewed as collaboration among an
individual and information resources.
The goals of collaboration, in this sense, are the sharing of meaning and resolution of a lack
of knowledge condition. Collaboration with (and among) information resources ideally includes
reflexive interaction, and/or reflexive provisioning of information. For example, many authors,
artists and publishers reflect on their potential readers and write, illustrate and design books with
the intention of provisioning information and sharing meaning with their future readers. This
suggests a reflexive provisioning of information. A reference interview in which an intermediary
asks an patron about the intended use of the search results, details about the search request
topic(s), their evaluation of preliminary search results, etc. is an example of reflexive interaction,
and thus collaboration during the search process.
Furthermore, collaboration often presupposes continuing relations. For example, many
individuals will only invest time learning a computer-based system, such as an Internet search
engine, when they believe they will use the search engine again in the future. Information filter
programs presuppose that users will continue to need information from their associated
Collaboration among the individual and information resources will, of course, be bounded by
the individual’s information horizon for the given situation and context. A challenge is to
understand how an individual’s information horizon can be expanded to include appropriate
information resources, especially in digital libraries. An additional challenge is to understand
how information retrieval systems and services, e.g., in digital libraries, can collaborate with
individuals to facilitate an effective resolution of the individual’s lack of knowledge condition. It
suggests that collaboration technology, such as synchronous audio and video and shared
applications, may have a role in information retrieval systems and digital libraries, e.g., to
provide shared interactive access to information retrieval tools among users and professional
intermediaries, etc.
Proposition 5: Information horizons may be conceptualized as densely-populated solution
Because information horizons consist of a variety of information resources, including social
networks, documents, information retrieval tools and experimentation and observation in the
world, many of which have some knowledge of each other, perhaps, information horizons may
be conceptualized as densely populated space. In a densely-populated solution space, many
solutions are assumed, and the information retrieval problem expands from determining the
most efficient path to the best solution, to determining how to make possible solutions visible --
to an individual(s) and to other information resources.
The shift from a sparsely populated solution space to a densely populated solution space is
a foundation of combinatorial chemistry. In combinatorial chemistry, many experiments are
performed simultaneously. The earlier paradigm in chemistry allowed for one experiment to be
conducted, results evaluated, and based on the results, a subsequent experiment was
conducted. Thus the solution path was comprised of a linear sequence of steps, similar to many
information retrieval systems today where queries are sequentially input until results are
obtained. However, when I go to a colleague or an experienced reference librarian for
assistance, they typically suggest multiple possible resources and/or ways to locate possible
resources, and proactively seek feedback on my relevance assessment of these resources.
Data fusion algorithms that send multiple queries simultaneously to databases and systems that
incorporate user relevance feedback judgments are examples of this paradigm shift. However
challenges remain. How can systems provide integrated access to the variety of information
resources typically found in an information horizon? What do resources need to know about
each other? What do resources need to know about the individual, social network, situation and
context? How can solutions be made visible or accessible to individuals?
Individuals may not conceptualize their information horizon as densely populated (e.g., see
Chatman, 1996), and, perhaps we can never develop algorithms and interfaces sufficient to
support the information behavior of every individual, social network, situation and context due to
the inherent complexity and variability in this challenge. However, perhaps a digital information
horizon could take into account an individual’s social network by also providing access to the
social network and expanding it to include additional human experts who could either satisfy the
need directly or provide pointers to appropriate resources. Thus the problem further shifts from
the traditional focus of eliminating human intermediaries to providing access to many human
4. Conclusion
In summary, this evolving framework incorporates cognitive, social, and system
perspectives and builds on theories in information and library science, communication,
sociology, and psychology. Human information behavior, including information exploration,
seeking, filtering, use, and communication, are included (to varying degrees) in the framework.
It suggests social networks play an important role in human information behavior through
helping to define an individual’s information horizon and through actively participating in the
human information process. Future work includes elucidating the framework and exploring how
the framework may guide the design of systems to support human information behavior.
Acknowledgements. I wish to thank Bob Losee, Barbara Wildemuth, Mirja Iivonen, and Paul
Solomon for their helpful comments.
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... Grâce à des études exploratoires, elles sont mises en perspective par le truchement des modèles informationnels élaborés dans le champ des sciences de l'information. Ces modèles ont été proposés par différents auteurs et autrices faisant désormais référence tels que (Leckie et al., 1996), le modèle d'Ellis (Ellis, 1989;Ellis & Haugan, 1997), le modèle de construction de sens (sense-making methodology) de Dervin (Dervin, 2003(Dervin, , 2010(Dervin, , 1983, Wilson (Wilson, 1981(Wilson, , 1999, Sonnenwald (Sonnenwald, 1999) ou encore de Savolainen (Savolainen, 1995(Savolainen, , 2008. ...
... Pour notre travail de recherche, nous nous inscrivons dans le cadre théorique élaboré par Diane Sonnenwald en 1999 dans son ouvrage "Evolving perspectives of human information behavior: contexts, situations, social networks and information horizons". Elle y formule l'hypothèse selon laquelle, étant donné un contexte et une situation, il y a un « horizon informationnel » au sein duquel nous pouvons agir (Sonnenwald, 1999 ;Savolainen, 2007). Reijo Savolainen, en s'appuyant sur les travaux antérieurs de Sonnenwald, a conçu le modèle éponyme, « horizon informationnel ». ...
... Pour tenter d'y répondre, nous nous sommes appuyés sur l'approche à la fois théorique et méthodologique dite de « l'horizon informationnel » (information horizon). Cette approche a été développée par Diane Sonnenwald (Sonnenwald, 1999) et reprise par Reijo Savolainen (Savolainen, 2007(Savolainen, , 2008 comme nous avons pu l'expliquer dans le chapitre 2. ...
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Our thesis takes place in a global video game (VG) company. In this world where there are many restrictions on information accessibility, where projects usually managed locally are now developed interstudio, its actors are faced with multiple knowledge silos and KM becomes a challenge even more strategic. What are the sources used by VG employees, the criteria applied and the barriers they encounter? How are web 2.0 tools positioned within this digital workplace? What should be the mandatory pillars to deploy a corporate folksonomy? Using Savolainen’s information horizon methodology, we conducted an exploratory study based on interviews organized at the Ubisoft Montreal studio. Our 29 participants had to place their sources of information on mind maps. Theses maps and interviews transcripts are supplemented by some data related to the deployment of the company's tags. We propose a new categorization of sources and confirm the typology of Savolainen criteria. We shed light on the impact of a variable temporality between production and support teams on their information practices. We attest that the conditions of the folksonomy deployment did not allow the initial associated vision to be applied. The results of our survey on the informational practices of video game employees could find application in strategic knowledge management. We affirm that folksonomies can still play a major role if they fully benefit from the technological support necessary for their deployment. They could thus help to facilitate the information paths of the employee for whom the primary sources of information remain the other employees and tools which allow them to communicate together. Notre thèse se déroule dans une entreprise mondiale vidéo ludique. Dans cet univers où les restrictions d’accès à l’information sont nombreuses, où les projets habituellement gérés par lieux sont désormais développés inter studios, les acteurs y sont confrontés à de nombreux silos et le KM devient un enjeu d’autant plus stratégique. Quelles sont les sources d’information que les acteurs du jeu vidéo utilisent, les critères qu’ils appliquent et les barrières qu’ils rencontrent ? Comment sont positionnés les outils web 2.0 dans ce paysage numérique ? Quels axes de déploiement pour une folksonomie d’entreprise ? En suivant la méthodologie horizon informationnel de Savolainen, notre étude exploratoire repose sur des entretiens menés au studio Ubisoft de Montréal où nos 29 participants plaçaient leurs sources d’information sur des cartes mentales. Ces données sont complétées par celles relatives au déploiement des tags dans l’organisation. Nous proposons une nouvelle catégorisation de sources et confirmons la typologie de critères de Savolainen. Nous éclairons l’impact d’une temporalité variable entre les équipes de production et support sur leurs pratiques informationnelles. Nous constatons que le déploiement de la folksonomie n’a pas permis d’appliquer la vision initiale associée. Nous affirmons que les folksonomies peuvent encore jouer un rôle majeur dans ces applications si elles bénéficient du support technologique nécessaire à leur déploiement. Elles contribueraient ainsi à la facilitation du parcours informationnels des acteurs de l’organisation, pour qui les premières sources d’information restent les collaborateurs et les outils pour échanger ensemble.
... The concept of Information Horizon was initially introduced by Sonnenwald (1997) as a spatial metaphor representing an environment of information sources and people's engagement with these sources (Savolainen & Kari, 2004;Sonnenwald, 1997). Sonnenwald (1997) proposed that when an individual has decided to seek information, they will seek within an information horizon. ...
... The concept of Information Horizon was initially introduced by Sonnenwald (1997) as a spatial metaphor representing an environment of information sources and people's engagement with these sources (Savolainen & Kari, 2004;Sonnenwald, 1997). Sonnenwald (1997) proposed that when an individual has decided to seek information, they will seek within an information horizon. The horizon may consist of a variety of information sources relevant to different situations and contexts ( Figure 3.1). ...
... The horizon may consist of a variety of information sources relevant to different situations and contexts ( Figure 3.1). Figure 3.1 A graphical representation of an information horizon for an engineer (Sonnenwald, 1997) Furthermore, information sources within the horizon may interact with one another and enable the individual to access other relevant resources to satisfy their need for information or lack of knowledge (Sonnenwald, 1997). Other similar concepts using spatial metaphors to describe how information sources are available to potential users (Chatman, 1992;Shenton & Dixon, 2003;Taylor, 1991). ...
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Effective communication is a critical component of disaster mitigation, aiding in preparation, response, and recovery. Identifying the most and least trusted information sources helps emergency services develop better strategies for emergency information dispersal. Currently, there is limited research that focusses comprehensively on information channels the public views as trustworthy and uses for emergency information across different hazards and threats. This research offers insights into individual citizen's reliance on, and incorporation of, various types of information sources under time pressures and uncertainty associated with natural disaster events. Empirical data were obtained from 217 randomly selected adults across the Southeast Queensland region using a web-based survey. Respondents were asked to rate different information sources they trusted for emergency information hierarchically and to indicate information sources they would use to help decision-making in three hypothetical disaster scenarios. Data analysis involved the use of the Friedman Test for ranked data, followed by pairwise comparisons with a Bonferonni correction applied to reveal relative levels of trust in different information sources. Ranked data were also clustered to delineate information pathways through which citizens interact with various sources. Then, analysis of variance was performed to investigate potential factors that may influence an individual's level of trust and reaction to emergency information. These findings highlight the importance of emergency authorities maintaining presence a diverse range of media, particularly mass and social media. Analysis of information pathways from the hypothetical disaster scenarios suggests that people interact with multiple sources of information during everyday situations and when they are under time pressure and faced with uncertainty. The findings of the research also seem to suggest that demographic characteristics alone cannot explain information behaviour.
... Las redes complejas de información en el comportamiento informativo de periodistas de investigación rodrigo castaneyra Hernández Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México INTRODUCCIÓN A l tomar en cuenta el comportamiento informativo bajo la ecuación fundamental de Brookes (1980a) y el horizonte informativo de Sonnenwald (1999), se realiza un análisis de red que explica la interacción y comportamiento entre varios elementos (Caldarelli y Catanzaro 2014). En este caso el proceso en el que la información actúa cognitivamente en el ser humano dentro de un contexto, situación y red social. ...
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This research builds a new approach to the study of information behavior based on complex information networks, understanding this process as a cognitive process. This approach has a qualitative point of view based on the analysis of networks using in-depth interviews and mind maps. It is concluded that it is possible to map the cognitive process of people through the visualization of their information horizons interpreted as complex information networks that help to find areas of opportunity in the use and obtaining of information for librarians.
As the use of arts-involved and data visualization methods increases in information science, it is essential to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of various methods. An international lineup of information researchers shares their experiences using the participatory, visual elicitation technique Information World Mapping (IWM) in their work. The authors begin with an overview of IWM, detailing its origins and emerging directions. They summarize their application of IWM to describe information behaviors/practices across various locations, cultures, disciplines, and technology access environments. The authors conclude by discussing key questions and areas of exploration for IWM in information research, including cultural influences, changes in media and methods for data collection, power dynamics, and researcher positionality and reflexivity. Insights offer new possibilities for the next phase of IWM in information research, including challenges and areas for innovation.
Information creation can be a varied and changing process. In information science, an increasing amount of research is conducted to explore the maker product as information creation. However, what is left relatively unknown is how space may associate with information creation in a private everyday space. Therefore, this qualitative research applied diary studies and semi-structured individual interviews with 25 arts and crafts hobbyists to investigate the potential relationship between space and information creation in the context of making at home. The findings reveal that making can occur across the house and be facilitated and hampered by space. Also, this research shows that space is malleable in an information-creating episode where people can display cunning to reconfigure the environment. This study demonstrates a novel perspective to analyzing information creation, highlighting that information creation is a complex landscape shaped by the spatial property, bodily experience, and often the presence of others.
Famous video bloggers (vloggers) on YouTube can develop large audiences, which can be related to the gaining of audience engagement (AE), manifested by the viewers’ participation and consumption on YouTube. Studies have unveiled vloggers’ behaviors for engaging audiences, or audience engagement behaviors (AEBs), in their videos, including interacting with viewers via comments, disclosing self-information, giving rewards, and offering other information. Meanwhile, video blogs (vlogs) are produced under “vlogging context” - situational elements involved in vlog production. Studies have shown the effect of context on the content of online media. However, while it can be argued that context can affect vlog content produced, the contextual factors that may shape vloggers’ AEBs within the content have not been explicitly explored. This research aims to propose contextual factors that can condition vloggers’ AEBs on YouTube. A qualitative case study on three popular vloggers was implemented. A thematic analysis was performed on sampled vloggers’ videos to identify contextual factors that can condition the three vloggers’ AEBs. The results propose that personal, environmental, and medium context are three main contextual factors that condition the three vloggers’ AEBs. This research argues that how vloggers’ AEBs are presented to the audience depends on their vlogging context. It expands the understanding of YouTube vloggers or similar streaming media creators’ practices for AE by considering the role of context.
The present case study aimed at developing a micro-model of the factors effective in developing online information literacy skills in an educational context. A sequential mixed-methods approach (qualitative-quantitative) was used as the research design. Initially, a conceptual model was developed using both the contextual participatory method and in-depth interviews. Interviews with 59 participants were coded using software MAXQDA on three levels, namely open, axial, and selective. In the quantitative step, a valid questionnaire derived from the conceptual model was distributed more extensively. The data were then analyzed using SmartPLS. The conceptual model was comprised of six dimensions including prior knowledge, using websites’ features, research and instructional experiences, trial and error, online media and tools, and advisors. Path analysis demonstrated that online media and tools had the highest and research and instructional experiences had the lowest priorities.
In todays’ complicated and changing market environment where brand crisis is happening ever more frequently, Weibo as an important place for information seeking and sharing as well as interactive exchanges has an undeniable impact on the dissemination of crisis information.
Through literature combing and theoretical exploration, this chapter lays the theoretical foundation and provides theoretical support for the following research.