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Developing user orientated Information Services

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Developing user orientated Information Services The 21st century has been described as the "information age". This information can is stored and can be retrieved from various sources such as books, journals, databases, CD-ROMs and the internet. However due to the large amounts of information available, users seeking information are faced with the problems of poor knowledge of hardware, user-unfriendly interfaces, difficulties in formulating queries, little knowledge of requests and practices, etc. As a result, various models have been created that attempt to identify how to create information retrieval products and services and what factors need to be taken into account in relation to the user when constructing such products and services. However these models vary a great deal and whilst some of these models concentrate on studying a group/community in general and their information seeking needs, other models are less broad and concentrate on the actual moment of interaction. This report will be attempting to evaluate, compare and contrast and assess the strengths and weaknesses of three these models. The report will also be attempting to assess the usefulness of these models in helping one to study a community. To conduct my evaluation, I will be using the two models of Wilson (1996) and Spink's model of Information seeking. Wilson's 1996 model of information behaviour Model Description Wilson's model of information behaviour is designed to study group/community and user studies/information behaviour in general. The model is therefore designed so that it can be applied to any such community. ...read more.


Spink's model of Information seeking Model Description Spink develops a model that is designed to be most compatible with internet searching and includes feedback as a key element in the information seeking process. Feedback is an interactive process for query modification. Relevance feedback is one of the examples, in which a user selects a small set of items relevant to a query, and the system then uses features from the selected items to adjust the query. Spink suggests that a search process consists of user judgements, search tactics or moves, interactive feedback loops, and cycles. As a result, unlike the Wilson model, Spink's model is concerned with the moment of interaction i.e. when people are interacting with information retrieval systems. Spink illustrates the model as follows: (Source from: Spink,A. (1997) Study of Interactive Feedback during Mediated Information Retrieval) > One or more search strategies constitute an interactive search process > Each strategy may comprise one or more cycles > Each cycle may include one or more interactive feedback loops: user input, system outcomes, user explanation and judgement and user input > An input may be considered as a move (change) in search strategy or a search tactic of the advanced search > A user input or query indicates a move Strengths of Model > The model is designed to be very narrow and concentrated as it is concerned with the moment of interaction i.e. when people are interacting with information retrieval systems. ...read more.


Attention and memory constraints suffered by users are another factor that the models do not directly take into account. Metaphors, icons, graphic and colour coding are all factors that can determine how easily the user relates to the product and therefore how quickly they learn. In conclusion, whilst the Wilson and Spink model both have their own respective strengths and weaknesses, I feel that it would depend upon the particular community itself and its needs that would eventually determine the success of the model. In many communities such as journalism, a combination of the broad Wilson model and a more specific model such as Spink's model would be very useful as incorporating the two together would help serve the varying needs of the smaller communities within the general community of journalists. I also feel that the models need to incorporate other factors as well such as identifying that different users have varying level of knowledge and expertise, comfort levels, differences in seeking behaviour, tasks goals etc and therefore a single model can not apply to every one in every community. Finally, I feel that the models need to incorporate a research aspect and attempt to identify how each model can be promoted and taught to the user, taking into account that each user has different information literacy rates and is suited to varying methods of learning. This can also be combined with an assessment aspect of the model which can allow the community to evaluate the product/service that has been based on the model and measure its effectiveness, benefits and performance. ...read more.

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