Information seeking in the context of writing - A design psychology interpretation of the "problematic situation"

S Attfield, Ann Blandford, J Dowell
in Journal of Documentation, Journal article


Information seeking does not occur in a vacuum but invariably is motivated by some wider task. It is well accepted that to understand information seeking we must understand the task context within which it takes place. Writing is amongst the most common tasks within which information seeking is embedded. This paper considers how writing can be understood in order to account for embedded information seeking. Following Sharples, the paper treats writing as a design activity and explore parallels between the psychology of design and information seeking. Significant parallels can be found and ideas from the psychology of design offer explanations for a number of information seeking phenomena. Next, a design-oriented representation of writing tasks as a means of providing an account of phenomena such as information seeking uncertainty and focus refinement is developed. The paper illustrates the representation with scenarios describing the work of newspaper journalists.