USERS LOST:Reflections on the past, future, and limits of information science A presentation by Meg Eastwood on the 1997 paper by Dr. TefkoSaracevic INF384H September 12, 2011
Part One:What is Information Science, and why does it matter for Information Retrieval?
What is IR? “the undisputed objective of IR is to provide potentially relevant answers to users’ questions” (pg. 17)
Is IR a branch of Computer Science or Information Science? Computer science: “systematic study of algorithmic processes that describe and transfer information” (Denning et al., 1989) Information science: “trying to organize and make accessible the universe of knowledge records, literature, in a way that ‘texts’ most likely to be relevant or of value to users are made most accessible intellectually and physically” (pg. 23)
Three “Senses” of Information “signals or messages for decisions involving little or no cognitive processing” (pg. 17) 0 1
Three “Senses” of Information 2. “Information involving cognitive processing and understanding” 3. Information that involves cognitively-processed messages and a context (pg. 17-18) Photo courtesy of Lowell Observatory Archives
Part Two:History and Motivations of Information Science
The Beginnings of Information Science Vannevar Bush’s 1945 paper: Defined “the massive problem of making more accessible a bewildering store of knowledge” (Bush 1945) Proposed a technological solution: the “Memex” Photo from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vannevar_Bush_portrait.jpg
Focus of Information Science “The proper study for information science is the problem of effective and efficient interface between people and literatures” pg. 20
Specialties within Information Science Domain Cluster versus Retrieval Cluster FIG. 3.Top 100 authors in information science, 1980–1987. from White and McCain 1998, pg. 345
Traditional Systems-Centered Approach to IR Calvin Mooers, 1951: Defined IR as as “embrac[ing] the intellectual aspects of the description of information and its specification for search, and also whatever systems, techniques or machines that are employed to carry out the operation.” Focuses on algorithms and “computational advantages” (pg. 22) “People and users are absent” (pg. 21)
Human-Centered Approach to IR “cognitive, situational, and interactive studies and models involving the use of retrieval systems” Mantra: “results have implications for systems design and practice” (pg. 21) From http://www.bleedingcool.com/wp-content/uploads//2011/08/tron-in-tron.jpg
Two Distinct Education Systems in IR Shera model Attempted to integrate IR courses into traditional library school curriculum and connect it to professional practice Strengths: “Service framework” “User-oriented” Salton model Education is integrated with experimental research as part of a computer science curriculum Strengths: Firm grounding in math and algorithms Students prepared to contribute to research in field
Part Three:Limits of Information Science
“Natural Limits” of Information Science Human knowledge records are too diverse for a general IR solution Every person searches for, assesses, and copes with information differently
Discussion Did Saracevic described the history of IR in unbiased manner? What did you think of Saracevic’s definition of Information Science? Have the relationships between the two camps of IR (systems-centered versus human-centered approach) changed since 1997? Research Education Natural limits of IR?
References Saracevic, T. (1997). Users lost: reflections on the past, future, and limits of information science. SIGIR Forum 31 (2):16-27. White, H.D. & McCain, K. W. (2008). Visualizing a discipline: An author co-citation analysis of information science, 1972-1995. Journal of the American Society for Information Science 49 (4):327–355.