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Pathways to Discovery: Supporting Exploration and Information Use in Cultural Heritage Collections

P. Goodale, e. agirre, J. Griffiths, K. Fernie, M. Stevenson, M. Hall and P. Clough, Pathways to Discovery: Supporting Exploration and Information Use in Cultural Heritage Collections. In Museums and the Web 2013, N. Proctor & R. Cherry (eds). Silver Spring, MD: Museums and the Web. Published October 2, 2013. http://mwa2013.museumsandtheweb.com/paper/pathways-to-discovery-supporting-exploration-and-information-use-in-cultural-heritage-collections/

p.1: In this paper we compare the results of the user-centred evaluation of two iterations of the PATHS system, which aims at supporting exploration, navigation and use of information in cultural heritage online collections. We focus on two path creation exercises, and examine the format and content of the paths according to available functionality and different user attributes. We also present findings of the users’ interactions and response to the path concept as a means of discovery, and of meaning-making and information re-use in relation to curatorial, research, education and leisure contexts. Recommendations are made for further refinement and development of the path functionality, and for application within CH online collections, with regard to key use case scenarios. -- Highlighted mar 16, 2014

p.1: Large digital library collections in cultural heritage (CH) and other domains can be difcult to navigate for novice users lacking in specialist knowledge of the content and structure of the collection being accessed -- Highlighted mar 16, 2014

p.2: Making connections between items (e.g. as paths) has been suggested as a means of surfacing narratives through the rigid database structures that often underlie online cultural collections, thereby supporting a more cohesive interaction experience. Opportunities to develop multiple narratives through the same information space may arise, allowing for different interpretations to co-exist (Manovich, 1999). Narratives enable meaning to be made when links between people, artefacts, ideas and interpretations are made (Walker et al, 2013), supporting deeper engagement, leaning, creativity and exploration, as well as representing the collecting process (Mulholland and Collins, 2002), and are thus a key element of engagement in cultural heritage. Further, Peterson and Levene (2003) relate implicit trails, created by users as they navigate through physical and virtual museum spaces, to the learning process. -- Highlighted mar 16, 2014

p.3: PATHS aims to support wider information processes that are often overlooked, incorporating elements of discovery, validation and interpretation, and information use, as exemplified in the information journey model (Adams & Blandford, 2005). -- Highlighted mar 16, 2014

p.14: We also asked for feedback on preferences for finding and sharing information, where there are further differences between novice and expert users. A striking example of this is in the perception of which tools are most useful for finding items to include in a path. Whilst both types of users tried all features, novices are more likely to find the thesaurus, tag cloud and map exploration tools to be useful, whilst expert users are more likely to find the search box and facets to be useful. Novices are also more likely to find the related item links and links to Wikipedia content to be more useful than experts. -- Highlighted mar 16, 2014

p.16: Narrative can be supported in both linear and hierarchical formats, and as Manovich (1999) suggests, there are opportunities for multiple narratives to co-exist within a collection. To this end, we have begun to consider how to visualise inter-related paths on the same topic by surfacing paths via thesaurus topics and by indicating ‘crossing paths’ in item records. -- Highlighted mar 17, 2014

p.16: Paths created by professionals such as curators, educators and researchers have the potential for use in providing collection and topic overviews as a starting-point for content exploration, in supporting informal learning, and as a means of sharing best practice and discussing ideas. -- Highlighted mar 17, 2014

p.16: User-created paths provide a new dynamic, with opportunities for inquiry-based and informal learning activities, co-creation, community and collaborative endeavours, and wider sharing and communication with other users. -- Highlighted mar 17, 2014

p.17: Support for co-creation and group work has signicant implications for extending the use of paths as tools for meaning-making and creativity, and as information objects for sharing within curatorial, community and educational initiatives. -- Highlighted mar 17, 2014