Information seeking

Information seeking

Information seeking is the process or activity of attempting to obtain information in both human and technological contexts. Information seeking is related to, but yet different from, information retrieval (IR).

Traditionally, IR tools have been designed for IR-professional to effectively and efficiently retrieve information from a source. It is assumed that the information exists in the source and that a well-formed query will be retrieve it (and nothing else). IR can be said to be technology-oriented, focusing on algorithms and issues such as precision and recall. Information seeking, in contrast, is a more human-oriented and open-ended process. In information seeking, you do not know whether there exists an answer to your query. The very process of seeking may provide the learning required to satisfy the information need the user may have.

It has been argued that laypersons' information seeking on the web is very different from information retrieval as performed within the IR discourse. Yet, web search engines are build on IR principles. Since the late 1990s a body of research on how casual users interact with web search engines is beginning to form but the topic is far from fully understood.

Information seeking has been found to be linked to a variety of interpersonal communication behaviors beyond question-asking, to include strategies such as candidate answers. From a technological perspective, researchers have identified a variety of principles, such as the Principle of Least Effort (Zipf) which are thought to govern information seeking behavior in different contexts.


*Miller, Vernon D. and Jablin, Fredric M.; "Information Seeking during Organizational Entry: Influences, Tactics, and a Model of the Process." "The Academy of Management Review", Vol. 16, No. 1 (Jan., 1991), pp. 92-120
*Pomerantz, Anita; "Offering a Candidate Answer: An Information Seeking Strategy." "Communication Monographs", v55 n4 p360-73 Dec 1988.

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