Thursday, September 25, 2008

Use Cases

It seems as if Use Cases are too obvious to mention, but with the great amount of mystery surrounding these deliverables, I feel the need to mention a few definitions. First of all, a Use Case can be text or graphical, as in a state diagram. The basic attributes involve identifying the user intention and the system responsibility. More complexity is added as you consider the relationships between objects, the preconditions, the post-conditions, and the business rules. Therefore, a Use Case can come in different flavors. I have a graphical one below, roughly based on a decision-reaction flavor. Depending on your point of view, they may also be confused with taskflows, scenarios, etc. The information represented in each of these does involve a certain amount of overlap, but depending on the project they may not all be necessarily included.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Information Horizons

I would like to introduce the concept of Information Horizons. For the more scholarly, please feel free to read the work of Sonnenwald in regard to this concept.

The Information Horizons approach to studying information-seeking behavior takes into account the larger world of information instead of one particular source. With any subject matter in mind, from a scientific inquiry to which blender to buy, we can see that multiple sources are often searched through including not only the internet, but friends, family, magazines, newspapers, etc. Anything that can relay information can be seen as a source of information.

In an IH study participants are asked to map their information horizons creating a network where the nodes represent information sources. Sometimes the lines going from the information seeker to the source represent primary searches, sometimes the lines go between sources (as in after asking Aunt Betty about her blender, I then searched items on Amazon from that same company).

I am excited to be performing a study using IH in terms of the presidential campaign. Hopefully, the results will be eye-opening for all students of Information Communication, Behavior, Architecture, and the like.