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Contextual queries and situated information needs for mobile users

The users of mobile devices increasingly use networked services to address their information needs. Questions asked by mobile users are strongly influenced by contextual factors such as location, conversation and activity. We report on a diary study performed to better understand mobile information needs. Participants’ diary entries are used as a basis for discussing the geographical and situational context in which mobile information behaviour occurs. The suitability of user queries to be answered by a portable knowledge collection and web search are also considered. We find that the type of questions recorded by participants varies across their locations, with differences between home, shopping and in-car contexts. These variations occur both in the query terms and in the form of desired answers. Both the location of queries and the participants’ activities affected participants’ questions. When information needs were affected by both location and activity, they tended to be strongly affected by both factors. The overall picture that emerges is one of multiple contextual influences interacting to shape mobile information needs. Mobile devices that attempt to adapt to users’ context will need to account for a rich variety of situational factors.
Working Paper
Type of thesis
Computer Science Working Papers
Hinze, A. M., Chang, C. & Nichols, D. M. (2010). Contextual queries and situated information needs for mobile users. (Working paper 01/2010). Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Department of Computer Science.
University of Waikato, Department of Computer Science