Visual information retrieval : browsing strategies in pictorial databases
This research is concerned with the retrieval of visual or pictorial information from videodisc databases. Videodisc technology has made automated storage and retrieval of high quality visual information possible. A problem is that traditional keyword or text access to pictorial information may be inappropriate if the type of information sought cannot be readily described in words. An answer may be to encourage visual searching or browsing. The challenge lies in creating flexible retrieval systems which will both maximise search efficiency and accommodate the individual user. An experimental retrieval environment was developed to examine visual information search strategies. This system allowed for three search types: keyword search, specific browsing, and scanning. Over two experiments visual information search and browsing strategies were identified and characterised: seeking, focused exploring, open exploring, and wandering. In addition, five factors which influence visual information search strategies were identified: the nature of the information itself, database structure, the task or information need, the user, and the interface. This research combines elements of information retrieval and human factors to point to ways in which visual information retrieval systems can be developed which will meet the needs of their users. System design must take account of individual search behaviour and utilise knowledge of the factors which influence user interaction with the system in the search and retrieval process.