Integrating information seeking and information structuring: spatial hypertext as an interface to the digital library.
Information seeking is the task of finding documents that satisfy the information needs of a person or organisation. Digital Libraries are one means of providing documents to meet the information needs of their users - i.e. as a resource to support information seeking. Therefore, research into the activity of information seeking is key to the development and understanding of digital libraries.\ud \ud Information structuring is the activity of organising documents found in the process of information seeking. Information structuring can be seen as either part of information seeking, or as a sepárate, complementary activity. It is a task performed by the seeker\ud themselves and targeted by them to support their understanding and the management of later seeking activity. Though information structuring is an important task, it receives sparse support in current digital library Systems.\ud \ud Spatial hypertexts are computer software Systems that have been specifically been developed to support information structuring. However, they seldom are connected to\ud Systems that support information seeking. Thus to day, the two inter-related activities of information seeking and information structuring have been supported by disjoint\ud computer Systems.\ud \ud However, a variety of research strongly indicates that in physical environments, information seeking and information structuring are closely inter-related activities. Given\ud this connection, this thesis explores whether a similar relationship can be found in electronic information seeking environments. However, given the absence of a software\ud system that supports both activities well, there is an immédiate practical problem.\ud \ud In this thesis, I introduce an integrated information seeking and structuring System, called Garnet, that provides a spatial hypertext interface that also supports information seeking in a digital library. The opportunity of supporting information seeking by the artefacts of\ud information structuring is explored in the Garnet system, drawing on the benefits previously found in supporting one information seeking activity with the artefacts of\ud another.\ud \ud Garnet and its use are studied in a qualitative user study that results in the comparison of user behaviour in a combined electronic environment with previous studies in physical environments. The response of participants to using Garnet is reported, particularly regarding their perceptions of the combined system and the quality of the interaction. Finally, the potential value of the artefacts of information structuring to support information seeking is also evaluated.
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