A framework for supporting user-centric collaborative information seeking
CHIRAG SHAH: A Framework for Supporting User-Centric Collaborative Information Seeking. (Under the direction of Gary Marchionini.) Collaboration is often required or encouraged for activities that are too complex or difficult to deal with for an individual. Many situations involving information seeking also call for people working together. Despite its natural appeal and situational necessity, collaboration in information seeking is an understudied domain. The nature of the available
... and its role in our lives have changed significantly, but the methods and tools that are used to access and share that information in collaboration have remained largely unaltered. This dissertation is an attempt to develop a new framework for collaborative information seeking (CIS) with a focus on user-centric system designs. To develop this framework, existing practices for doing collaboration, along with motivations and methods, are studied. This initial investigation and a review of literature are followed by a series of carefully created design studies, helping us develop a prototype CIS system, Coagmento. This system is then used for a large scale laboratory experiment with a focus on studying the role and the impact of awareness in CIS projects. Through this study, it is shown that appropriate support for group awareness can help collaborators be more productive, engaged, and aware in collaboration without burdening them with additional load. Using the lessons derived from the literature as well as the set of studies presented in this dissertation, a novel framework for CIS is proposed. Such a framework could help us develop, study, and evaluate CIS systems with a more comprehensive understanding of various CIS processes, and the users of these systems. iii Acknowledgments I would like to thank all of the following people and organizations for their contributions to my research. Without them, this work would not exist. • Gene Golovchinsky and Jeremy Pickens at FXPAL, California, for introducing me to the area of collaborative information retrieval during my internship in summer 2007. • The National Science Foundation, for funding my studies and research with IIS grant # 0812363. • SILS office staff, for timely processing required paperwork, including the IRB applications, for my user studies. • SILS library staff, for their kind support and cooperation during my laboratory study that lasted about three months.