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Christina's LIS Rant
Monday, November 06, 2006
  ASIST2006: Designing for Uncertainty
Designing for Uncertainty
1:30 Monday

Theresa Dirndorfer Anderson
University of Technology Sydney

Nature of scholarly research
- expert informants
- Complex research tasks
- uncertainty and work – uncharted territory
- uncertainty and innovation – creativity (when the information system supports convergence it can confound innovators who are trying to diverge and come up with new things)

Risk and uncertainty

Strategic uncertainty
- can be an enabler for creativity
- working through uncertainty can be a mediating strategy

4 detectable levels of uncertainty
- engaging with information requirements
- Immediate search process
- IR activities associated with search
- Overall outcome of wider task

Relationship between uncertainty and understanding – give and take between them

Not necessarily end uncertainty but support discussion and communication of uncertainties, allow

Uncertainty in Work-based Settings
Jennifer Berryman
University of Technology Sydney

Government workplace. Environment can be uncertain because of political happenings. Tasks can be uncertain. Goals can be uncertain.
In information seeking never moved out of the uncertainty stage because the goal was uncertain but they had to finish the work on deadline.
They felt that this was typical.

Individual differences in the experience of uncertainty
Jannica Heinstrom
Rutgers

For some uncertainty might present a challenge and for others anxiety
Group: school children in diverse schools in New Jersey
Low motivation vs. high motivation students. High motivation students deal better with the temporary uncertainty as part of the ISP perhaps because in a more general sense, they have less uncertainty in other parts of their lives

Fast surfing – hasty and superficial information seeking, common among persons with low conscientiousness and high sensitivity

Broad scanning- explorative and spontaneous information seeking common among outgoing, competitive and open people

Designing for uncertainty can encourage creativity. People who enjoy information seeking and who are open and curious will be most receptive to these changes.

Uncertainty and Information Literacy Activities
Sanda Erdelez
University of Missouri-Columbia

Information encountering

Information behavior > information acquisition (a more generic term for seeking etc) > Opportunistic acquisition of information (vice purposeful) > information encountering

Super encounterers who feel guilty about coming across information in perhaps a more natural way but who aren’t using the programmatic, step-wise information seeking process “required” or taught.

Stripling and Pitts’ Research Process (ew, looks like information literacy….)

More research required on how we can teach students to manage and make use of information encountering, does maturity of the student make a difference, can this be used in the classroom environment where there are specific learning outcomes.

Ah-ha! These models all discuss solving one particular problem, but real life may be working multiple problems.

Supporting uncertainty in Information Seeking and Retrieval
Marcia Bates
(reaction to the previous speakers)

So information encountering is a very valuable and perhaps the only task if you’re in a very rich information environment – such as at a conference

Information systems and search interfaces still have a way to go to legitimate uncertainty and support uncertainty. Follow tangents and come back, not know where they’re going as they go along – if you can state precisely what you want to know, you already know it.

Q&A

T.D.A. - Uncertainty with the scholars more about the content not about the IR system or the documents themselves

S.A. – Scaffolding in learning, by design, is to eliminate uncertainty, perhaps we should teach instead that uncertainty will always be there.

Kuhlthau – of all of the models like Stripling and Pitts – were the reason she did her research that lead to her ISP. The other models aren’t research-based and they’re teaching the children something that we don’t do ourselves. When you leave out the exploration stage – you’re not realistic so you’re forcing children to pretend that they’re following some artificial model – teaching them to fib. She did studies on this in 1981 yet they’re still teaching these other ways of going about things. (my paraphrase, forgive if inexact, but worth trying to capture).

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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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