During this year I have worked on a research project that aims to facilitate the development and implementation of an enterprise search engine. By understanding the use and value of information at the digital workplaces, we hope to create even better preconditions for optimizing a search engine to the requirements of a specific organization.
We use a work-task based research approach where we study information practices – that is, the normalized ways we use to recognize information needs, look for information, and how it is valued and used. By studying such practices in real-life work tasks, we can outline the role that a search engine plays in relation to other work tasks as well as to other ways of finding information. In short, being engaged in a creativity-oriented work task initiates different types of information practices compared to the practices we use in everyday, routine-based work tasks …
The creativity-oriented work tasks involve a dimension of innovation, and concepts such as learning and development are often used to describe these activities. Uncertainty is something that is associated with curiosity and may be seen as a driving force behind information seeking. Information that is rich in nuances and that offers different, even contradictory explanations or descriptions is usually appreciated, and the task outcome is only vaguely discerned at first. Routine-oriented tasks, on the other hand, are focused on increasing effectiveness and reducing uncertainty as quickly as possible in the task outcome, which itself may be sketched out relatively clearly from the beginning. Information seeking is often directed to readily available facts. All this means that a search engine must support a variety of information practices at any given workplace!
The “we” in this project is myself together with a Findwise colleague Henrik Strindberg. The project is financially supported by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, and while I am not working with the present project I am employed by the University of Borås.
Just now I am finalizing a presentation of the project for the ICKM conference in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, next week. The presentation is entitled “Interrelated use and value of information sources”, and will be available through the conference proceedings in due time.
Very exciting … and while there I will also attend the board meetings of the ASIS&T’s Board of Directors as a newly appointed Director-at-Large. Very exciting, too!
The 73rd Annual Meeting of ASIS&T focuses on “Navigation Streams in an Information Ecosystem”.