VOL. 09, NO. 3; MAY


The need for information space mapping to retrieve information on the web

Gabriel Fisher 


The Semantic Web offers exciting possibilities for information retrieval (IR). In IR, we would like systems that go beyond simply matching words in documents and queries, and instead match based on topic, data type, relations among data, and many other qualities. The Semantic Web, through fuzzy matching of information spaces from different sources, will provide for much more specific information seeking than current Web-based search engines or other IR systems. In order to succeed, however, it is necessary to map between the differing schema, metadata standards, namespaces and so forth used by documents on the Semantic Web. This information space mapping may be accomplished by a simple match or table lookup when document sets come from similar or otherwise well-defined domains. When the match is less precise, sets of rules or algorithms may be employed to map between information spaces. When schema or metadata are inconsistent, though, we are left with a similar data environment as the modern Web, and must rely on the context of the documents themselves to determine the mapping between information spaces.

Information seeking by disabled citizens: an ecological study

Charlie Chapman, Lewis Hudson 


The article reports a study which investigated information seeking by blind and sight impaired people, with particular emphasis on the role of the Internet. . A literature review revealed a paucity of studies about the information-seeking behaviour of groups of people with disabilities, including blind and sight impaired people. The study focussed very specifically on both personal lives and broader social contexts. The techniques for collecting qualitative data included two focus groups involving 16 participants and 15 individual interviewees, from both city and country settings. The findings of the study address issues of information needs, information sources, the role of the Internet in meeting needs and the barriers to the use of the Internet. A major conclusion is that people who are blind and sight impaired deserve to be provided with a range of ways of meeting information needs, as are available for people with normal sight. Given the inexorable continuing impact of the information age, it is also concluded that ways must be found so that people with disabilities can participate equitably in the information economy.

The Semantic Web: opportunities and challenges for next-generation Web applications

Oscar Harvey


Recently there has been a growing interest in the investigation and development of the next generation web – the Semantic Web. While most of the current forms of web content are designed to be presented to humans, but are barely understandable by computers, the content of the Semantic Web is structured in a semantic way so that it is meaningful to computers as well as to humans. In this paper, we report a survey of recent research on the Semantic Web. In particular, we present the opportunities that this revolution will bring to us: web-services, agent-based distributed computing, semantics-based web search engines, and semantics-based digital libraries. We also discuss the technical and cultural challenges of realizing the Semantic Web: the development of ontologies, formal semantics of Semantic Web languages, and trust and proof models. We hope that this will shed some light on the direction of future work on this field.

Information exchange in virtual communities

Ilona Agafonova 


While there is wide agreement that virtual communities – and other phenomena utilizing CMC technologies – have the capability to provide both interpersonal and informational interactions, the degree to which they can be seen as specifically information-oriented social spaces has been open to some question. Drawing upon theoretical and empirical work that emphasizes an environmental model of human information behaviour, a foundation is developed for a model of information exchange in virtual communities, and a typology of the varieties of information behaviour to be found in virtual communities is proposed. This typology will provide a mechanism for assessing the characteristics of virtual communities in terms of their support for information exchange, and has the potential to enhance our understanding of virtual communities as information environments.

Factors influencing environmental scanning in the organization

Zak Berry , Phoebe Carter 


This paper identifies and analyses the factors internal to the organization, which affect the activity of environmental scanning, understood here as the information seeking activity of managers, directed at the company’s external environment. These factors include individual factors, such as information consciousness and exposure to information, and organizational factors such as information climate and “outwardness”. The main relationships among them are also analysed. These factors were identified in the course of research aiming to provide a comprehensive understanding of the environmental scanning process (Correia & Wilson, 1996). The methodology used – a case-study approach coupled with the grounded theory method of qualitative analysis – was of major importance in obtaining information that is grounded largely on the personal experience of managers.