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Information overload for communities of practice


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A study of emergency management professionals with emphasis on medical and public health done for NLM. These are slides of a paper presented at Web2008 during ICIS 2008 and you can request a copy of …

A study of emergency management professionals with emphasis on medical and public health done for NLM. These are slides of a paper presented at Web2008 during ICIS 2008 and you can request a copy of the paper from me directly as well as other work in this area. Check my website for the full NLM report

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  • 1. The Future of Professional Communities of Practice (based upon a study of Emergency Management Professionals concerned with Medicine and Public Health) Murray Turoff & Starr Roxanne Hiltz Information Systems Department New Jersey Institute of Technology Message me for copies of these slides [email_address] Full NLM report (169 pages) at website http:/
  • 2.  
  • 3. Expose the issues and requirements for information Seeking Behavior in Emergency Preparedness and Management with Emphases on Medical Practices and Public Health
    • One round Delphi!
      • “ Networking Inquiry”: snowball sample starting with about 15 names
    • Did not go on to ask for solutions
    • Qualitative Study
      • Early Delphi studies of qualitative information gathering show 3 to 5 in any specific professional area are sufficient to get underlying rationales.
  • 4. Participants/Contributors
    • 1. Emergency Practitioners and Coordinators (7)
    • 2. Health Related Professionals (10)
      • All had some EPM responsibilities
    • 3. Researchers/Academics, Librarians (10)
      • 3.1 Librarians (3)
      • 3.2 Academics or Researchers (7)
    • 4. International Professionals (7)
    • Text Responses organized by these five groupings
    • Total: 34 out of approximately 100 asked
    • Participants/Contributors Listed by name and position in final report except for three who wished to remain anonymous
    • 1. Your roles and experience in Emergency Preparedness and Management
    • 2. Current Sources
    • 3. Desired Sources (missing and difficult to find)
    • 4. Organizing Information, Knowledge or Wisdom: How would you like it done?
    • 5. Current outstanding examples of sources of material
  • 6. SELF REPORT Cont.
    • 6. Roles of Libraries and Librarians
    • 7. Effect of Extreme Events
    • 8. Your critical topic areas
    • 9. International Considerations
    • 10. Others to include in study
    • 12. NLM experience (if not mentioned in prior answers)
    • 13. Anything we left out
  • 7. Results on Websites (many hundreds in report)
    • Top three websites
      • 1. CDC
      • 2. Lessons Learned Information Sharing System http://
      • 3. ReliefWeb
    • Open source grass roots community efforts (six examples in report), example:
      • One of the practitioners who responded, Gregory Banner of DHHS, has been collecting useful websites for many years
      • 1600 websites categorized, indexed, and updated
      • About 78 pages of material
    • These are professionals in the area and not librarians undertaking these efforts
  • 8. Information Overload is the most frequent concern
    • Unfortunately I have found that it takes somebody knowledgeable (me) to go through all the various resources and pull out what is useful.
    • I am currently unable to avoid information overload.
    • There in fact is a significant overload of information with insufficient concrete actions.
    • Lack of Gray Literature on Specifics
  • 9. Sample Observations I
    • Many types of gray literature are considered critical to practitioners and some of them are not collected and organized in any systematic library science approach.
    • Static indexes are not going to satisfy the users at the practitioner level and even the academic level because the field is evolving and changing rapidly.
    • Currently literature in this area is very scattered, especially the gray literature.
  • 10. Sample Observations II
    • Users have turned to social networks to help alleviate information overload and are attracted to services that support the underlying social networks.
    • Users want to have control over their abilities to filter and organize their material.
  • 11. Sample Observations III
    • There are too many sources competing for being “the source" and this lack of organizational cooperation is a major challenge to overcome.
    • Grassroots based services worldwide are undergoing rapid development.
  • 12. Proposed Solution for Communities of Practice
    • User controlled Recommender System
    • A few thousand vetted users in Emergency preparedness and management
    • A many thousand set of users and voters
    • Users categorized in specific specialty areas of EP&M verified by collaborative tagging and index expansion
    • Could apply to any community of practice or academic community
    • Open Source philosophy
    • Will use comparative preferences on importance of documents by all users
    • Preferences resulting may be viewed via specialty areas of voters.
  • 13. Design Features 1
    • Documents to be included are nominated by any vetted contributor in the field of emergency preparedness and management.
      • Assigned to one or more specialty areas
    • Users are classified by their professional specialty area confirmed by collaborative tagging as well.
    • Comments on the utility can be made and attached to the document as a threaded discussion thread
  • 14. Design Features 2
    • Anyone can vote on the utility of the document and change their vote based upon the discussion changing their viewpoint.
      • Votes are shown distributed by the specialty areas of the voters
      • Searches also possible by vote and specialty area
    • Organizing votes by area of expertise of voter is borrowed from a number of Delphi studies that did the same thing.
    • Using paired comparisons allows one to use Thurstone’s Law of Comparative Judgment to take individual rankings and create a group interval scale (work by Connie White).
  • 15. Design Features 3
    • Individual users can post their own list of what they consider the most useful documents
    • Users can look up documents by specialty area of the voters and the resulting ratings
    • Collaborative tagging should be implemented to continually update and expand the subject index. This will be an evolving free key word/phrase index
    • Goal is a collaborative intelligence system or a collaborative knowledge base in terms of current jargon.
  • 16. Conclusion
    • The place to look for innovative opportunities is in what users are doing to try to convert poorly designed systems to their needs.
    • Information Systems and Information Science seem to be loosing their role in applications understanding and development by abstracting users out of the efforts at design
  • 17. Reference for Full Report
    • Full Report at (167 pages)
    • At
    • Murray Turoff and Starr Roxanne Hiltz (2008), Information Seeking Behavior and Viewpoints of Emergency Preparedness and Management professionals concerned with Health and Medicine , Report to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), March 6, 2008. ( PDF download , ~1 megabyte)
    • (60 page appendix of the exact words of the contributors organized by inquiry questions and then professional categories)
    • Be our guest if a student wants to do a content analysis
  • 18. Related Papers on Information Systems for Emergency Management
    • Van de Walle, B., Turoff, M. and Hiltz, S. R. eds. Information Systems for Emergency Management, In the Advances in Management Information Systems monograph series (Editor-in-Chief: Vladimir Zwass). Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe Inc. Anticipated spring 2009.
    • Turoff, M., Hiltz, S. R., White, C., Plotnick, L., Hendela, A., Xiang, Y., The Past as the Future of Emergency Preparedness and Management, Journal of Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management, 1(1), 12-28, January-March 2009 .
    • Turoff, M., Chumer, M., Hiltz, R., Klashner, Robb, Alles, Michael, Vasarhelyi, M., Kogan, A., Assuring Homeland Security: Continuous Monitoring, Control, and Assurance of Emergency Preparedness, Lead article for a special issue on Emergency Preparedness for JITTA, Volume 6, Number 3, Fall 2004, 1-24.
    • Turoff, M., Chumer, M., Van de Walle, B., Yao, X., The Design of a Dynamic Emergency Response Management Information System (DERMIS), Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application (JITTA), Volume 5, Number 4, Summer, 2004, pp. 1-36. ( ) or
  • 19. The End
    • An Early man made disaster
    • Questions?
    • Comments?
    • Objections?