Workshop on Human-Computer Interaction and Information Retrieval

By Hawkins, Donald T. | Information Today, December 2011 | Go to article overview
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Workshop on Human-Computer Interaction and Information Retrieval


Hawkins, Donald T., Information Today


Think about the ways in which you retrieve information these days on desktop computers or on-the-go with mobile. We're always connected; the ways we interact with our devices continue to evolve.

In fact, we've come a long way since 2007, when the Workshop on Human-Computer Interaction and Information Retrieval (HCIR) was first launched. It all started as an experiment among information science researchers to gauge their interest in human-computer interaction (HCI) as applied to information retrieval (IR). Nearly 5 years later, the conversation continues as about 90 information science researchers assembled at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., in late October for the fifth HCIR workshop.

One of the highlights was the keynote titled "HCIR: Now the Tricky Part" by Gary Marchionini, dean and professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina and author of Information Seeking in Electronic Environments and Information Concepts: From Books to Cyberspace Identities. He began by discussing the history of HCIR, which he divided into three eras: pre-1980s with human and machine intermediaries (human search intermediaries are now largely extinct); the 1980s-1990s with networks, search algorithms, words and links, and no human intermediary; and 2000-present with user interfaces, facets, usage patterns, and social interactions (and involvement of many more people in the search process).

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Today's HCIR challenges include information-seeker behavior, retrieval and extraction, and individual and group interactions.

For Marchionini, substantial progress in HCIR has been made over the last 30 years (compare today's search experience with that of searches done on a teletype terminal by a librarian while you waited for the results), but there is still much more to learn.

Posters and Presentations

The workshop featured poster sessions and presentations detailing research in various academic laboratories. Poster topics included collective information seeking, a high-density image retrieval interface, an interactive music information retrieval system, mobile user information needs and behavior, and search interfaces in consumer health websites.

The presentations covered HCIR from myriad angles, starting with a study of dwell time (how long a user remains on a website), which found that users with marginal knowledge of the search subject tended to be less efficient at selecting query terms, whereas those with high domain knowledge spent much more time on content pages.

Search system user interfaces vary widely, including query auto-completion, term expansions, faceted refinement, related search suggestions, and results preview.

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