Friday, August 16, 2019

A Comparison of Berrypicking and Sense-Making in Human Information Behavior

In today’s society, people are inundated with information from a variety of sources, including television programs, radio shows, newspaper articles and the Internet. Daily exposure to this new information provides the opportunity to further our knowledge and understanding of a subject by doing further research but what is the most effective way to go about doing so? Two different approaches based on Human Information Behavior (HIB) have been modeled which help identify individual’s information-seeking behavior and provide guidance for creating systems which make searching for information a successful proposition.The two approaches that will be examined in this paper include the â€Å"Berrypicking† model proposed by Marcia Bates and Brenda Dervin’s methodology â€Å"Sense-Making†. These two principles vary widely in their scope but are complementary as systems to aid in an information search. Berrypicking Before the late 1980’s, the universal model in information retrieval (IR) research was referred to as â€Å"one query, one use†.According to Marcia Bates, real information searching by an individual does not always conform to the â€Å"one query, one use† method that had been assumed. Bates states that with the development of more sophisticated computer systems that evolved over time, a new design based on the way that regular human beings in real-life situations perform searches for information was necessary (Bates, 2005). She presented a model of the Berrypicking search, and then proposed a variety of design features for users of online systems and other information systems.In Marcia Bates’ model of Berrypicking, information seeking behavior is modeled as an â€Å"evolving search† (Bates, 1989) whereby the search starts with one query, but is modified at various points based on the information returned by that initial query. The final result may not match the original query, because new inf ormation introduced during the search process may identify alternate paths to follow in finding the most accurate data in the least amount of results.Bates compares this process to â€Å"real life† searching in manual applications such as footnote chasing, citation searching, journal runs, etc. (Bates, 1989). She used such searches to form the basis of a system that would allow users to follow these same manual processes within electronic files. Bates provides a number of applications for Berrypicking in her article; unfortunately most are outdated due to today’s advances in technology. The process she outlined, however, is still in use for a number of applications today. One example of Berrypicking involves a typical Internet search.A user might begin the hunt for information by using a popular search engine, but the results returned often provide hyperlinks within pages which then takes the user on a different search down an alternate path. Each new click provides th e opportunity to revise the original search, ultimately leading the user to a new set of results. Bates argues that Berrypicking should not be considered browsing, because while browsing allows a user to redirect their searching, it is more random and undirected, whereas Berrypicking is an integrated part of the information seeking process.Bates (1989) also identifies Berrypicking as searching within the individual’s â€Å"Universe of Interest† (or what information they are interested in seeking) in their own â€Å"Universe of Knowledge† (which includes what they may already know to get them started on their search) but this model does not hold up to the example of a typical Internet search due to the all-inclusive nature of the world wide web. Any query online could provide results that may be outside of an initial universe of interest by exposing alternate concepts or ideas and thus enhancing the search process.The inclusion of Figure 3 (Bates, 1989 ) in this model seems to be a rather weak one; perhaps due to the fact that the Internet has evolved so much since the introduction of this model in 1989. Sense-Making Alternately, Brenda Dervin’s Sense-Making Methodology delineates the behavior an individual follows when he seeks to fill a gap in his understanding of information rather than the searching steps that occur to reach it. Sense-Making endeavors to explain how â€Å"the individual defines and attempts to bridge discontinuities or gaps† (Dervin, 1992) in information.Dervin likens this process to a person crossing a bridge. In this case, an individual attempts to fill a gap between himself and the other side. The decisions he makes as well as his responses to the situation will determine how this person actually maneuvers. Sense-Making focuses on examining the capacity of the user to impact the flow of information between systems and users. This methodology has a wide applicability because it does not attempt to model specific information-seeking behavior but rather the thought process that occurs in conjunction with it.In her article Dervin offers several examples of ways in which this approach has already been used. In one example researchers attempted to understand where a gap existed in communication from a community library and its Hispanic population. After many failed attempts to reach this population through usual publicity efforts, researchers formulated a Sense-Making methodology in the form of a questionnaire that targeted a group of users at the library and asked them the specific question, â€Å"How were you helped? † (Dervin, 1992).This question gave the researchers a better understanding of the needs of this community by delving into their thought processes: â€Å"It helped us to see patrons from a different point of view; to understand them better† (Dervin, 1992). Through an application of the Sense-Making methodology this library was able to fill the discontinuity b etween the library and its Hispanic patrons by listening to the needs of the targeted population. The challenge in using the Sense-Making approach to eradicate a gap is that the behaviors exhibited may not be understood until after the event is over.Comparison and Contrast Dervin would argue that one way to understand the fundamental differences between Berrypicking and Sense-Making is to examine the different ways that theories can be used to define them. Theory, when used to describe the Berrypicking system, would most closely match what Dervin calls theory of the first kind, or that which â€Å"results from observation† (Dervin, 2005). Theory of the second kind is defined as the broader theories that direct the observation process; they are also known as metatheories.However, Sense-Making does not fall into this category. Sense-Making is an attempt to link theories of the first kind with theories of the second kind, or what Dervin (2005) calls theory of the third kind â₠¬â€œ methodological theory. As a new methodology underlying the relationship between the theory that directs observation and the theory that results from observation, Sense-Making is highly powerful in its capacity to call into question earlier research methods and conclusions.An important aspect in studying HIB is the focus on the user, rather than the system. Each of these two approaches explains the core concepts behind user behavior and work methodologies rather than attempting to conform human behavior to fit an existing system. Both ideas are concerned with analyzing the way an increased focus on users can impact information systems and aid the unrestrained flow of information.Berrypicking is a fairly narrow model, representative of a specific type of HIB (searching) and it has limits in applicability to other types of information-seeking behavior. Sense-Making has a broader application, because the methodology is also part of a theory (theory for methodology) which can be use d to study various types of HIB. Dervin argues that users should be viewed as moving through a space-time continuum using multiple strategies and systems as they attempt to make sense of their world and address gaps in their knowledge.Tonyia Tidline (2005) notes in her dissertation Making Sense of Art as Information, â€Å"Sense-Making has great utility for shifting researchers’ focus from categorization to process, a focus that might better reflect the intricacies of information behavior†. Tidline asserts that Brenda Dervin’s ideas about information needs and the methodology of information-focused research are not effective by themselves, but become so when used in combination with other methods and theories to improve how we observe, analyze and understand information behavior (Tidline, 2005).Consequently, the Berrypicking model, when used in conjunction with the Sense-Making methodology would be complementary and allow for the achievement of better results in those designing systems for IR. Berrypicking could be used as part of Sense-Making/gap-filling process by a user, because each new evolution of the search could fill a new gap or satisfy a discontinuity in our reality. Conclusion Theories or models provide us with a way of understanding and identifying HIB.In our daily lives we have an endless number of opportunities to interact with information. Some of this behavior is obvious, but not always. At times our need for new information is only required to bridge the gap in knowledge of something we do not understand. How we attempt to obtain that understanding depends on our circumstances and resources and how well we use each. This paper examined two approaches to HIB: Marcia Bates’ model Berrypicking and Brenda Dervin's methodology Sense-Making.Both of these approaches were designed to help researchers understand and better assist users in their exploration of information, whether their need is to search across multiple types of resources or to better communicate about unfamiliar topics. As systems designers endeavor to develop products that assist users in the search for information, they will be well served to grasp a greater understanding of HIB and consequently, the principles behind Berrypicking and Sense-Making. Individuals who seek further understanding of the world and its plethora of information will profit immensely from this well-rounded approach.

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