The Ecology of Information Foraging on the World Wide Web
This chapter presents a simultaneous analysis of the foraging environment posed by the Web and the behavior of the human forager shaped by the structure and constraints of that environment. Information on the Web exhibits a patchy structure along several dimensions. This patchiness invites application of the patch model from optimal-foraging theory. Data from participants working on tasks that are representative of those faced by average Web users suggest that Web-foraging can be viewed as search in problem spaces. The concept of information scent (proximal cues used to judge the utility of links) emerges from these analyses as a principal heuristic that drives the Web browsing process. This analysis suggests that users choose their information diet based on information scent and choose to leave an information patch when the information scent of encountered Web pages at a site drops below the average information scent of encountered pages.
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