Present position: Professor, School of Library and Information Science, and Head of the Center for Human Information Interaction, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Degrees: B.S. in mathematical sciences, Tel Aviv University; MLS, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Ph.D in Library Science, University of Maryland
Area of research: Analysis of information-seeking behavior, with an emphasis on online searching
How you describe what you do at cocktail parties: I say that I study how people look for, use, and interact with information. What I learn can be used to design better systems to support the process.
Most recent study? We looked at how 31 aerospace engineers obtained critical information relating to their work. What we discovered is that the typical engineer is more likely to get information from people he or she knows. In our study 97% of the engineers consulted another person at least once during a recent work task, while 77% searched the Internet.
Isn't treating co-workers like walking dictionaries a little lazy? In some cases, yes. But we have known for many years that engineers are great information sources for other engineers. That's because when you ask people you know for information, you get opinions with that information.
What does this mean for engineers who telecommute? Since much of the interaction is informal—meeting up by the water cooler, for example—they're missing out on the opportunity to talk to their colleagues.
Is the web good or bad? It's been bad for some librarians! Seriously, though, the web is good because it exposes many, many more people to information. The web is bad because it is very difficult to browse in a systematic way. Surfing the web is not a terribly efficient way to work.
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