Footprints of information foragers: Behaviour semantics of visual exploration

Chaomei Chen, Timothy Cribbin, Jasna Kuljis, Robert Macredie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Social navigation exploits the knowledge and experience of peer users of information resources. A wide variety of visual-spatial approaches become increasingly popular as a means to optimize information access as well as to foster and sustain a virtual community among geographically distributed users. An information landscape is among the most appealing design options of representing and communicating the essence of distributed information resources to users. A fundamental and challenging issue is how an information landscape can be designed such that it will not only preserve the essence of the underlying information structure, but also accommodate the diversity of individual users. The majority of research in social navigation has been focusing on how to extract useful information from what is in common between users' profiles, their interests and preferences. In this article, we explore the role of modelling sequential behaviour patterns of users in augmenting social navigation in thematic landscapes. In particular, we compare and analyse the trails of individual users in thematic spaces along with their cognitive ability measures. We are interested in whether such trails can provide useful guidance for social navigation if they are embedded in a visual-spatial environment. Furthermore, we are interested in whether such information can help users to learn from each other, for example, from the ones who have been successful in retrieving documents. In this article, we first describe how users' trails in sessions of an experimental study of visual information retrieval can be characterized by Hidden Markov Models. Trails of users with the most successful retrieval performance are used to estimate parameters of such models. Optimal virtual trails generated from the models are visualized and animated as if they were actual trails of individual users in order to highlight behavioural patterns that may foster social navigation. The findings of the research wilt provide direct input to the design of social navigation systems as well as to enrich theories of social navigation in a wider context. These findings will lead to the further development and consolidation of a tightly coupled paradigm of spatial, semantic and social navigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-163
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Aug

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was supported by research grants from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the UK under the Multimedia and Networking Applications Programme (GR/ L61088), the 5th Framework Programme of the European Commission (IST-1999-11722) and the Council for Museums, Archives and Library in the UK (RE/089).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education
  • General Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture


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