Tuesday, 3:30pm


Seeking Common Ground: Coffee Shop as Information Grounds for Peace in the Conflict Zone

Abdul Rohman, Natalie Pang
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore


Using coffee shops as information grounds in the context of Christians and Muslim violent conflicts in Indonesia, this paper explores and explicates the emergence of information grounds in the context of conflicts. In a polarized society, coffee shops are constructed as a venue for social reliefs and rituals. They function as social magnets, attracting conflicting actors to put off their differences in lieu of community building. As information grounds, coffee shops allow human actors to cultivate trust and develop networked individuals. Individuals’ capabilities are connected within the communitarian spectrum. Diverse information is shared and exchanged but searching for a common ground is the main goal. As information grounds, the coffee shops reported in this paper are spaces where social capital flourish and increase in value with greater levels of trust. Through the discussion, we posit information grounds as spaces for conflict transformation.

Switching Sources: A Study of People’s Exploratory Search Behavior on Social Media and the Web

Dongho Choi, Ziad Matni, Chirag Shah
Rutgers University, United States of America


Searching the Web for information via search engines is a ubiquitous phenomenon and a well-established field of study in Information Science. Social media sites also continue to evolve and by now have gained enough popularity and momentum to be used as not just vessels for communication with others, but also as important repositories of information. However, it is not clear if the information behavior of users of traditional search engines differ from those performing information searches strictly on social media sites. To address this, we examined data from two user studies on people’s exploratory searching behavior: one group only used Web search engines, while the other exclusively used social media sites to search for information. Information search behaviors of both groups regarding exploratory tasks were observed and analyzed through search log and surveys. The results indicate that, while people using social media sites for exploratory search tasks find a smaller quantity and a less diverse set of documents than what they might discover when utilizing traditional Web search engines, they do perceive to end up with more relevant documents. They also report doing less work and feeling less challenged.

Information Seeking and Sharing in Virtual Communities: A Case Study of Chinese IT Professionals

Yuelin Li¹, Xiaofeng He1, Die Hu²
¹Nankai University, China, People’s Republic of; ²School of Information and Library Science, North Carolina University at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC, USA


The study aims to examine information seeking and sharing behavior of IT professionals in a virtual community (VC). In total, 200 threads with 1623 postings were extracted from ChinaUnix.net, an IT VC. A content analysis was performed and descriptive statistical analysis was conducted. The study identified four types of information seeking and sharing activities: resource sharing, experience sharing, asking questions, and asking for resources. The results indicate that asking questions is the dominant activity in this virtual community (VC), while experience sharing threads are browsed most in comparison to other threads. Browsing information in the VC is much more preferred by the users than contributing information to the VC. The important information behavior chain in this VC consists of asking, responding, interacting, uploading, linking, posting, and browsing. Interacting is an important vehicle for effective information exchange. The study helps people understand how the users of a VC seek and share information. The study reveals typical information seeking and sharing activities as well as behavior characteristics that support users’ engagement in a VC; it also identifies an information seeking and sharing chain in that context. It also adds new knowledge to users’ information seeking and sharing behavior in the information science area. The study could help designers develop and improve the design of VCs as well as help administrators improve and maintain an active and effective VC.