Literature/2004/Foster

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Foster, Allen (2004). "A Nonlinear Model of Information-seeking Behavior," Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, vol. 55 no. 3 (1 February 2004) pp. 228–237.
  • First published online: 11 NOV 2003. DOI: 10.1002/asi.10359 [1]

Authors[edit | edit source]

  • Department of Information Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3AS, Wales, United Kingdom
    Email: Allen Foster (aef@aber.ac.uk)
    Correspondence: Allen Foster, Department of Information Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3AS, Wales, United Kingdom

Abstract[edit | edit source]

This paper offers a new, nonlinear model of information-seeking behavior, which contrasts with earlier stage models of information behavior and represents a potential cornerstone for a shift toward a new perspective for understanding user information behavior. The model is based on the findings of a study on interdisciplinary information-seeking behavior. [...] This model illustrates three core processes and three levels of contextual interaction, each composed of several individual activities and attributes. These interact dynamically through time in a nonlinear manner. The behavioral patterns are analogous to an artist's palette, in which activities remain available throughout the course of information-seeking. In viewing the processes in this way, neither start nor finish points are fixed, and each process may be repeated or lead to any other until either the query or context determine that information-seeking can end. The interactivity and shifts described by the model show information-seeking to be nonlinear, dynamic, holistic, and flowing. [c 1] The paper offers four main implications of the model as it applies to existing theory and models, requirements for future research, and the development of information literacy curricula. Central to these implications is the creation of a new nonlinear perspective from which user information-seeking can be interpreted.

[...]

Excerpts[edit | edit source]

  • External Context
    Information behavior is not isolated from the context within which the information seeker works. Major external influences were categorized as Social and Organizational, Time, The Project, Navigation Issues, and Access to Sources. The social networking aspect of interdisciplinary experience was one of the most significant. [c 2]
  • Internal Context
    Internal influences are primarily the level of experience and prior knowledge held by the information seeker. Major influences were categorized as Feelings and Thoughts, Coherence, and Knowledge and Understanding. Each represents complex concepts within the analysis, including internal feelings of uncertainty, self-perception, self-efficacy, perception of topic, complexity, and distraction. Knowledge and Understanding covers experience, information need, and knowledge level. Internal influences are factors unique to each information seeker's own profile. [c 3]

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  1. This view of information-seeking is as novel as 3 decades old, while traveling along the cognitive revolution proper, cognitive science, human-computer interaction (HCI or CHI since 1979), and the like human-centric, pragmatic perspectives. Marcia Bates (1989) dubbed it "berry-picking" which was later parodied as "information foraging." But it is simply browsing or brainstorming in sharp contrast to AI formalism. Perhaps it is best done on the nonlinear hypertext that is similar to the mind map or mental model. Amid the 1973 oil crisis, all these bits and pieces began to take place altogether all of a sudden, in consilience, concert, context, hence the great, if not the greatest, cognitive revolution. But strangely few appear to wonder why on earth! Try to make the implicit explicit that 1975 appears to be a clear water shed as far as citation analyses go.
  2. The notion of "external context" owes to Ogden & Richards (1923).
  3. The notion of "internal context" that is "psychological context" owes to Ogden & Richards (1923).

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Gradient-optical-illusion.svg
The shade of the bar looks invariant in isolation but variant in context, in (favor of) sharp contrast with the color gradient background, hence an innate illusion we have to reasonably interpret and overcome as well as the mirage. Such variance appearing seasonably from context to context may not only be the case with our vision but worldview in general in practice indeed, whether a priori or a posteriori. Perhaps no worldview from nowhere, without any point of view or prejudice at all!

Ogden & Richards (1923) said, "All experience ... is either enjoyed or interpreted ... or both, and very little of it escapes some degree of interpretation."

H. G. Wells (1938) said, "The human individual is born now to live in a society for which his fundamental instincts are altogether inadequate."