[Asis-l] Call for Papers - Special Issue Information Processing and Management: “Designing for Uncertainty in Information Seeking”

Theresa Anderson Theresa.Anderson at uts.edu.au
Mon Jan 22 16:01:50 EST 2007

Call for Papers - Special Issue Information Processing and Management: “Designing for Uncertainty in Information Seeking” 
This special issue will discuss the challenges of designing for uncertainty – that is creating information systems that facilitate working with uncertainty rather than simply assuming that we should eliminate it. This call for a different approach to design is based on the premise that (in certain situations) uncertainty can be a powerful mediating strategy for people.  Most current systems appear based on an underlying assumption that uncertainty needs to be reduced or avoided altogether. New systems are needed that place uncertainty in a more positive light than is possible at present.
Uncertainty is a persistent characteristic and, from the user’s perspective, is a natural experience within the process of information seeking and meaning making. Many discussions of uncertainty in information seeking relate to the negative feelings associated with the experience of uncertainty. It is described as part of a struggle and a situation in which a person experiences anxiety and a lack of confidence. However, studies exploring experts in the workplace have also demonstrated that uncertainty is not always perceived as agonizing and frustrating. Instead, in certain situations, some searchers experience a sense of motivation and interest rather than frustration or anxiety. Portraying uncertainty as a natural part of a searcher’s experience represents a significant shift by accommodating uncertainty rather than reducing it. The focus turns to the perception of uncertainty in any given situation, rather than any inherent certainty or uncertainty. 
Given increased demands for effective searcher support in this digital age, realization continues to grow that the ambiguities, doubts and non-determinability of the “uncertain” conditions of human existence allow new ideas to arise. Researchers are becoming increasingly interested in examining the role these positive forms of uncertainty may play for creativity and innovation. There is growing interest in understanding how to support innovation in the design and implementation of information systems.
While many researchers have acknowledged uncertainty can have positive effects, there is very little research detailing these positive impacts and analyzing the potential interplay between “positive” and “negative” experiences of uncertainty. Papers are sought for this special issue that might contribute rich descriptions of the complexity of uncertainty by drawing on empirical research and theoretical examination of searcher-system relations and human evaluative processes of information. This special issue is particularly interested in understandings that can be drawn from theoretical and empirical work when uncertainty is embraced as an important and natural component in human experience.
Submissions for the special topic issue should be high-quality manuscripts on the theoretical, empirical and methodological issues surrounding this topic. Contributions are invited that examine uncertainty from different angles. Selected papers would ideally invite readers to consider the implications for the design and use of information systems if we recognize uncertainty’s potential as a powerful mediating strategy for information seeking and use. Papers should be of a concrete experimental or theoretical nature pertaining to such design. Discussions of tests performed on pilot design implementations are also invited. Submissions should describe original research and not be under consideration in any other forum. All submissions should be formatted according to the Information Processing & Management guidelines for papers, references, and citations (see “Guide for Authors” at http://authors.elsevier.com/GuideForAuthors.html?PubID=244&dc=GFA) but should be submitted in electronic form to the guest editors listed below. Submitted articles will be reviewed according to the Information Processing & Management reviewing criteria and appropriateness to the special topic issue.
Questions of particular interest to consider include:
*What is the role of uncertainty in learning and work contexts?                                                   
*What is the relationship between uncertainty and different phases of the search process; and how does this suggest different types of interventions?
*How might intermediaries and system designers identify situations where uncertainty should be supported?
*Can we personalize system responses to support individual uncertainty tolerances?
*What elements of uncertainty are salient to our better understanding of the information retrieval situation?
Deadlines ==
15 March 2007 = Submission Deadline
30 April 2007 = Notification to Authors of Acceptance
18 June 2007 = Final version of accepted papers
All questions regarding submissions should be directed to:
Theresa Anderson (theresa.anderson at uts.edu.au)
Information and Knowledge Management Program 
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences 
University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). Australia
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