Ubicomp 2004 presentation What users want at library - Equator by Levone


									“Finding out what users want”
• Articulation and Translation at the Library Help Desk
“We are dealing here, of course, with a very subtle problem - how one person tries to find out what another person wants to know, when the latter cannot describe the need precisely … In this act one person tries to describe to another person, not something he knows, but rather something he doesn’t know.” Robert Taylor

The Broad Relevance of the „Problem‟
• Help-giving in diverse contexts consists of people trying to describe something they do not know - e.g., just what materials that will satisfy a search for information, or just what sort of nuts and bolts are required to carry out a particular DIY task in the home, or just what that „knocking‟ sound on the car means, or just what makes the computer keep crashing - to people who may and often do know • What help-seekers do not know is what a solution looks like, what it consists of, what would bring it about, etc. • What help-givers do not know is what the problem is and what an appropriate solution might therefore look like • Work at the library help desk sheds light on the collaborative work involved in identifying problems and working out solutions and draws attention to the primacy of articulation and translation work to the practical day-to-day achievement of „giving help‟

Collaboration at the Help Desk
• Involves what librarians formally describe as „filtering work‟ • Which consists of what Taylor describes as “rather sophisticated methods of interrogating users” • Take a brief look at what those „methods‟ or workpractices consist of concretely - i.e., what they are as observable courses of practical action and practical reasoning • Consider the implications of these practices for the development of remote help-giving systems

Filtering Work
• Eliciting and/or offering „specifically-vague‟ descriptions
Sarah: Could you tell us where market - what was it market intelligence?

Lisa: Yeah. Sarah: Market intelligence Sylvia: Marketing is C floor. (Points to OPAC located at help desk) Do you know how to use the screens? Lisa: Yeah but Sylvia: You need to find the classmark for the book.

• “Market intelligence” - vague in the sense that it covers many things, specific in the sense that the information need has something to do with marketing • Specifically-vague descriptions circumscribe the search area and warrant further collaboration, which is concerned to articulate the connection between the search area (e.g. marketing) and the information requirement, which is (in part) in the user‟s head

Articulating the Connection
• Working up „preliminary‟ information requirement categories
Sylvia leaves the help desk, leads the two users (Lisa and Sarah) to a free OPAC terminal nearby and initiates a „title‟ search. Lisa: It‟s not a book. Sarah: It‟s like information, information about these particular products and services. It‟s called market intelligence and leisure intelligence et cetera et cetera. Sylvia: And is that the name of Sarah: That‟s the name – market intelligence and leisure intelligence. It‟s not a book as such. It‟s usually in the reference library. Sylvia: Is, is it a serial? Lisa: Yeah. Sylvia: It‟s a serial. Sylvia initiates a „serial‟ search on OPAC

• Articulating the connection consists of formulating the information need in terms of categories that fit the [library] system – e.g., in terms of „books‟, „serials‟, „journals‟, „maps‟, „tourist guides‟, and the rest • These categories, in turn, enable help desk staff to translate the information requirement into technical terms of the system and to identify potential solutions

Translating the Information Requirement
• Working up more „specific‟ information requirement categories
Sylvia: Is it marketing intelligence and planning? Is that the one? - Sylvia points to an item on the OPAC retrieval list - T6, it‟s a journal. Sarah: No. It‟s not a journal. Sylvia: Do you want to check at that and find the journal itself? Sylvia points to the item‟s classmark on the OPAC screen Sarah: Been there. Sylvia: But have you actually looked at the classmark? Lisa: Yes … it‟s not what I‟m looking for. Sylvia: Right. But that‟s the title of the book you‟re looking for - marketing intelligence? Sarah: Market intelligence, and its got a list of all the products and services - it‟s basically a reference book - and it tells you about particular market products and services and what to look for. Sylvia: You‟ve checked in the reference area? Lisa: Well, no. Sylvia: Right. Sylvia takes the users to the reference area, returning alone to the help desk some three or four minutes later. Staff: What was it she wanted? What did she ask for? Sylvia: Marketing intelligence, which is a joke. She didn‟t want that. I eventually got out of her that it was breweries, which we‟ve got in the reference area.

Articulation and Translation Work
• Transforms a specifically-vague description (“it‟s market intelligence”) into a preliminary information requirement category (“it‟s not a book, it‟s a serial”) and then into a more specific information requirement category (“it‟s not a journal, it‟s in the reference area” and, specifically, “breweries”)

A Phenomenon of Note
• Articulation and translation relies on the improvisational use of technology • Improvisational not in the sense of a jazz ensemble (where each time through is a one off) • Rather, in the sense that OPAC was not designed to support articulation and translation work • Nevertheless, the use of OPAC for this work is routine, staff do it all the time, the technology‟s use is stable, recurrent, part and parcel of the dayto-day character of help-giving in the library

So What?
• Understanding the socio-technical interface that‟s what we‟ve been looking at: how in details of work-practice, and „methodically‟ as a matter of routine, technical systems enter human interaction (and rely upon it) • Supporting articulation and translation work that‟s what seems to be generalisable about helpseeking and help-giving (moving from the vernacular to the technical) • Designing for improvisational use: that‟s an opportunity for design

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