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The evolutionary ecology of information foraging


We present Information Foraging Theory as an approach to understanding how strategies and technologies for information seeking, gathering, and consumption are adapted to the flux of information in the cultural environment. The theory is developed within an evolutionary-ecological framework that includes analysis of adaptation, knowledge, and cognition. The theory is applied to field studies, controlled experiments, and technology design. We present the Information Diet Model and Information Patch Residence Time Model as optimization models of information foraging under some strong constraints. These are used to develop a specific production system model called ACT-IF that predicts the fine-grained information seeking and gathering behavior of participants using a sophisticated document browsing system. We also present the Overlapped Patch Foraging with Queueing Model to address situations in which information search and information handling may occur in parallel, the Extreme Variance Rule which deals with information foraging under deadlines and uncertainty, a general class of Dynamic Information Foraging Models, and the Hogg-Huberman Model of the phase space of cost functions for heuristic information search.

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Pirolli, P. L. ; Card, S. K. The evolutionary ecology of information foraging. PARC Technical Report. 1997 June. UIR-1997-01.


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