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The cost structure of sensemaking


Making sense of a body of data is a common activity in any kind of analysis. Sensemaking is the process of searching for a representation and encoding data in that representation to answer task specific questions. Different operations during sensemaking require different cognitive and external resources. Representations are chosen and changed to reduce the cost of operations in an information processing task. The power of these representational shifts is generally under appreciated as is the relation between sensemaking and information retrieval. We analyze sensemaking tasks and develop a model of the cost structure of sensemaking. We discuss implications for the integrated design of user interfaces, representational tools, and information retrieval systems.


Russell, D. M. ; Stefik, M. J. ; Pirolli, P. L. ; Card, S. K. The cost structure of sensemaking. Proceedings of INTERCHI '93; 1993 April 24-29; Amsterdam; the Netherlands. Amsterdam: IOS Press; 1993; 269-276.