Re-Finding Found Things: An Exploratory Study of How Users Re-Find Information
The problem of how people find information is studied extensively; however, the problem of how people organize, re-use, and re-find information that they have found is not as well understood. Recently, several projects have conducted in-situ studies to explore how people re-find and re-use information. Here, we present results and observations from a controlled, laboratory study of refinding information found on the web. <br />Our study was conducted as a collaborative exercise with pairs of participants. One participant acted as a retriever, helping the other participant re-find information by telephone. This design allowed us to gain insight into the strategies that users employed to re-find information, and into how domain artifacts and contextual information were used to aid the re-finding process. We also introduced the ability for users to add their own explicitly artifacts in the form of making annotations on the web pages they viewed. <br />We observe that re-finding often occurs as a two stage, iterative process in which users first attempt to locate an information source (search), and once found, begin a process to find the specific information being sought (browse). Our findings are consistent with research on waypoints; orienteering approaches to re-finding; and navigation of electronic spaces. Furthermore, we observed that annotations were utilized extensively, indicating that explicitly added context by the user can play an important role in re-finding.