The following has been taken,unashamedly, from Wikipedia… I openly admit it. I just love their article on Information foraging
History of the theory
In the 1970s optimal foraging theory was developed by anthropologists and ecologists to explain how animals hunt for food. It suggested that the eating habits of animals revolve around maximizing energy intake over a given amount of time. For every predator, certain prey are worth pursuing, while others would result in a net loss of energy.
In the early 1990s, Peter Pirolli and Stuart Card from PARC noticed the similarities between users’ information searching patterns and animal food foraging strategies. Working together with psychologists to analyse users’ actions and the information landscape that they navigated (links, descriptions, and other data), they showed that information seekers use the same strategies as food foragers.
In the late 1990s, Ed H. Chi worked with Pirolli, Card and others at PARC further developed information scent ideas and algorithm to actually use these concepts in real interactive systems, including the modeling of web user browsing behavior, the inference of information needs from web visit log files, and the use of information scent concepts in reading and browsing interfaces.
Details of the theory
“Informavores” constantly make decisions on what kind of information to look for, whether to stay at the current site to try to find additional information or whether they should move on to another site, which path or link to follow to the next information site, and when to finally stop the search. Although human cognition is not a result of evolutionary pressure to improve Web use, survival-related traits to respond quickly on partial information and reduce energy expenditures force them to optimise their searching behaviour and, simultaneously, to minimize the thinking required.
The most important concept in the information foraging theory is information scent. As animals rely on scents to indicate the chances of finding prey in current area and guide them to other promising patches, so do humans rely on various cues in the information environment to get similar answers. Human users estimate how much useful information they are likely to get on a given path, and after seeking information compare the actual outcome with their predictions. When the information scent stops getting stronger (i.e., when users no longer expect to find useful additional information), the users move to a different information source.
Some tendencies in the behaviour of web users are easily understood from the information foraging theory standpoint. On the Web, each site is a patch and information is the prey. Leaving a site is easy, but finding good sites has not always been as easy. Advanced search engines have changed this fact by reliably providing relevant links, altering the foraging strategies of the users. When users expect that sites with lots of information are easy to find, they have less incentive to stay in one place. The growing availability of broadband connections may have a similar effect: always-on connections encourage “information snacking”, short online visits to get specific answers.
Models of information foraging
Attempts have been made to develop computational cognitive models to characterize information foraging behavior on the Web.These models assume that users perceive relevance of information based on some measures of information scent, which are usually derived based on statistical techniques that extract semantic relatedness of words from large text databases. Recently these information foraging models have been extended to explain social information behavior.
“There’s a lot of research about the way our brains process faces and how they have a unique way of making us happy. A smiling face, even in the form of a small profile picture, tells us someone else is there. The web is a social environment, and at the heart of it all is people.”
The above snippet comes from Box’s “Introducing Box Notes” page…
The three sentences, highlighted above, say a lot. The web is a social environment.
And it doesn’t just apply to the “web”. Social is being adopted by companies, inside the firewall, also and having people’s photos available make a big difference. I have often heard from clients that they “want to get to know who their fellow staff members are”. And having a photo turns a person from a faceless work colleague (often in a separate building/town/country), into a real person.
What about people outside the enterprise?
Something that I have been using for a few months now is Microsoft’s Social Connector for Outlook 2010. This allows Outlook to display the profile photo, and info, from one of the social networks that that person is a member of. In my case, I have set up the connector so that it connects to LinkedIn. What difference does this make? A lot! When I get emails from clients I know, having their photo on display, makes it more personal, and for people I haven’t yet met, it makes that first face-to-face meeting so much more enjoyable.
So, here’s a push to stop hiding. Come out into the open. Let us see who you are. (Naturally, there are limits…)
- 10 useful tips for better use of social networks (part 1) (fieldoo.com)
- Office 2013 Tips: Outlook Social Connector – LinkedIn
- Add a Facebook or LinkedIn Connection to Outlook 2013
- Announcing the Outlook Social Connector
- Outlook Social Connector and Providers
- The Outlook Social Connector – a hidden jewel
In an attempt to understand what “Change Management” actually is, I came across this delightful video. Especially cool with the sound.
- The Critical Importance of Change Management in Government Resource Planning (GRP) (freebalance.com)
- The Change Management Factor … How To Achieve MPS Roll Out Success (datamaxtexas.com)
- Innovation and Change (carriehille1.wordpress.com)
- How to Engage Employees With Technology Based Change (powerhomebiz.com)
- Managing Change. (agilenowwhat.wordpress.com)
A friend of mine, Keith, is a very polished presenter. He delivers his argument logically, with precision and a great deal of depth. It's rare to hear an ummm, ahhh or other verbal glitch come out of his mouth. By training, he's a lawyer, although now he's the CEO of a successful company. At business school, in open debate or discussion of a case study he would give such precise detailed answers that he earned the nickname…
A recent foray into Facebook led me to an post where the author said that he had unfriended some people because that started arguing, and complaining about what he had written.
If we translate this into the real world, effectively what the author had done was say “I don’t like your opinion, I don’t want to be friends with you any more.” Just because of a comment. Pretty harsh stuff.
This brings up a couple of points that bother me with regards this realm:
1. It’s called “Social Media”. Dumping your friends just because they said something you don’t agree with isn’t being very social.
2. What sort of “friend” are these people, and what sort of “friend” is the author, when just because you don’t like what’s being said, you say “I don’t want to be friends anymore.”
3. I agree that you can build up friendship through common interests, etc., but where’s the line between friendship, and acquaintance?
- Becoming me. (wethesam.wordpress.com)
Everyday I am truly in awe.
I work in an open-plan office where there are developers, designers, hardware people, project managers, business analysts and a few who I am not sure what they do.
It’s a great work environment, and one that I have found to be incredibly educational.
Because it is open-plan,and because all the developers, designers, hardware people, project managers, and business analysts are so passionate and enthusiastic about what they do, I get to sit in on some very interesting discussions (Hell, sometimes I’m almost able to contribute something useful to the conversations.)
A great example is the other day. In that one day I was able to listen to two designers talk with passion about design techniques, as well as some of the new technology available. Then I was involved with a group of business analysts discussing a successful project that had taken place. Later that day I was able to follow another passionate discussion related to UI design, and usability. And then I had a chance to sit in on a debate between two developers on the benefits, and downsides, of Scrum and Kanban.
I always left these discussions feeling like I had just been watching a TED talk, or had been reading through an Encyclopaedia.
In an earlier post (The Power of Comic Books!!) I talked about an interview with a Keegan Lannon, a Phd student studying the value of comic books. This was accompanied with a video of the interview.
In the video Keegan states “the more abstract a comic is, the more the person can relate to it”.
Interestingly enough, a couple of days later I stumbled across an interesting piece that validates this. In Rough and Hand-drawn: Alive and Inviting Tom Benthin talks about how, when compared to computer created images, “more abstract drawings of people allow us not just to imagine that a drawing is real, but that we are in it”.
This translates, as well, into techniques that are used for analysis and design work. When you either try and describe something to users, or try to draw out of them details on processes etc, a roughly drawn picture can be used.
- How Digital Comics Change The Way Comic Books Are Drawn – And Imagined (gizmodo.com.au)
- 26 Ways to Use Comics in the Classroom and 5 Free Tools for Creating Comics (freetech4teachers.com)
Word of the day…
Comic Books are fun!
They are a great visual medium. And they are a great way to tell a story.
One of Jorge Cham’s latest editions in his PhD comic series is on an interview that was held with Keegan Lannon at Comic-Con. Keegan is a PhD student and is studying “the narrative of comic books“. (Yep – it seems that Comic-Con has an intellectual side.)
This edition struck me on many levels:
Keegan describes his study. It’s on how comic books tell stories. “What does the mind do as it scans across the page and sees all the words, and put something together. What can we learn about information and communicative process by the way narratives tell stories.”
Keegan has even created a Taxonomy of Word Functions in Comics:
- Neurolingustic Text – Speech/Thought bubbles
- Sound Effects – Motivated/Unmotivated
- Narrative Text – Intra/Extradiegetic
- Printed Text - Consequential/Incidental
Keegan provides an interesting description of the difference between films, books and comics.
One fascinating thing that resonated with me was the observation that Keegan made about the power of a graphic. People can write many, many words to describe something, when a good graphic and a caption can be just as powerful.
The way that Jorge put this edition together is amazing. Instead of just having a film of the interview, he made amazing use of various ways to present the information.
Jorge uses different ways of capturing various topics into panels. He also emphasises main points by adding speech bubbles, as well as extra drawings.
What could of been a mildly interesting way of capturing information from a PhD student is turned into something very, very captivating!
It’s a well spent 4 minutes and 43 seconds!
I have a Swiss Army knife.
It’s one of those with 12 different tools on it. I carry it everywhere with me. Why? Because it is extremely handy.
I have used (I kid you not) almost all the tools. I’ve used the saw to cut branches hanging over the driveway when a truck couldn’t make it under them. I’ve used the screwdrivers almost all the times (I don’t even go to my tool bag in the garage any more). I’ve use the knife frequently, and for all sorts of different jobs where something needs to be cut. The tweezers have been used several times for emergency removal of prickles from my daughters foot.
The list goes on…
This got me to thinking.
A multi-talented person (an experienced IT’er) can be compared to the multi-function swiss army knife. However a little bit more thought on this lead me to realise that, No, a multi-talented person can NOT be compared to a Swiss Army knife.
Here’s 5 reasons why…
|Swiss Army knife||Multi-talented person|
|Has multiple tools of which each one is designed to achieve specific tasks, and does it well.||Has multiple talents, but can be stronger in some areas than others.|
|Each tool continues to do what it is designed for, no matter the length of time between uses.||Skills can be become rusty if not frequently used.|
|The tools in the Swiss Army knife do what they are meant to. They never change. (The can opener always open cans).||People have the ability to extend their skills through continual learning, and experience.|
|Swiss Army knives are predominantly recognisable by the red colour,||Multi-talented people don’t always wear red. That’s reserved for those people who meet their demise early on.|
|Swiss Army knives can be easily carried in your pocket.||Whilst, with the correctly modified clothing, carry people around in your pocket is possible, multi-talented people like to explore new things. They like variety.|
There may be more reasons, but I think you get the point…
It was about half past eight in the evening a couple of weeks ago; I was sitting at my computer at home, writing up some notes for a blog post on issue mapping.
“What are you drawing?” asked my eight year old, Rohan. I hadn’t noticed him. He had snuck up behind me quietly, and was watching me draw an IBIS map.