Defining what constitutes an exploratory search is challenging. Indeed, almost all searches are in some way exploratory. As many of the examples in this section illustrate, an exploratory search may be characterized by the presence of some search technology and information objects that are inherently meaningful to users (for example, their images, email messages, and music files). Although there may be circumstances where exploratory strategies are used continually to allow people to discover new associations and kinds of knowledge, they are often motivated by a complex information problem, and a poor understanding of terminology and information space structure.
In some respects, exploratory search can be seen as a specialization of information exploration—a broader class of activities where new information is sought in a defined conceptual area; exploratory data analysis is another example of an information exploration activity. In exploratory search, users generally combine querying and browsing strategies to foster learning and investigation. Although the exploration of information to reduce uncertainty is addressed in many fields, we focus on three areas: information retrieval (how information is found), information studies (how needs are described and information is used), and information visualization (how information is presented). The articles do not discuss fields such as knowledge management and cognitive psychology. Although both fields contain relevant research, they are beyond the scope of this editorial project.
Some highlights of the section:
- Exploratory search: from finding to understanding by Gary Marchionini
- Exploring personal information by Edward Cutrell, Susan T. Dumais
- Exploring the computing literature with visualization and stepping stones & pathways by Edward A. Fox, Fernando Das Neves, Xiaoyan Yu, Rao Shen, Seonho Kim, Weiguo Fan. I'm always amused when I see articles where CS researchers basically reinvent bibliographic databases or library catalogues, but this goes beyond that.
- Using temporal patterns of interactions to design effective automated searching assistance by Bernard J. Jansen
And one other article from the issue I would like to highlight:
- Beyond stereotypes of IT professionals: implications for IT HR practices by Harvey G. Enns, Thomas W. Ferratt, Jayesh Prasad