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Chen, Yaxi (2010): Exploratory Browsing: Enhancing the Browsing Experience with Media Collections. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics
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Abstract

In recent years the digital media has influenced many areas of our life. The transition from analogue to digital has substantially changed our ways of dealing with media collections. Today‟s interfaces for managing digital media mainly offer fixed linear models corresponding to the underlying technical concepts (folders, events, albums, etc.), or the metaphors borrowed from the analogue counterparts (e.g., stacks, film rolls). However, people‟s mental interpretations of their media collections often go beyond the scope of linear scan. Besides explicit search with specific goals, current interfaces can not sufficiently support the explorative and often non-linear behavior. This dissertation presents an exploration of interface design to enhance the browsing experience with media collections. The main outcome of this thesis is a new model of Exploratory Browsing to guide the design of interfaces to support the full range of browsing activities, especially the Exploratory Browsing. We define Exploratory Browsing as the behavior when the user is uncertain about her or his targets and needs to discover areas of interest (exploratory), in which she or he can explore in detail and possibly find some acceptable items (browsing). According to the browsing objectives, we group browsing activities into three categories: Search Browsing, General Purpose Browsing and Serendipitous Browsing. In the context of this thesis, Exploratory Browsing refers to the latter two browsing activities, which goes beyond explicit search with specific objectives. We systematically explore the design space of interfaces to support the Exploratory Browsing experience. Applying the methodology of User-Centered Design, we develop eight prototypes, covering two main usage contexts of browsing with personal collections and in online communities. The main studied media types are photographs and music. The main contribution of this thesis lies in deepening the understanding of how people‟s exploratory behavior has an impact on the interface design. This thesis contributes to the field of interface design for media collections in several aspects. With the goal to inform the interface design to support the Exploratory Browsing experience with media collections, we present a model of Exploratory Browsing, covering the full range of exploratory activities around media collections. We investigate this model in different usage contexts and develop eight prototypes. The substantial implications gathered during the development and evaluation of these prototypes inform the further refinement of our model: We uncover the underlying transitional relations between browsing activities and discover several stimulators to encourage a fluid and effective activity transition. Based on this model, we propose a catalogue of general interface characteristics, and employ this catalogue as criteria to analyze the effectiveness of our prototypes. We also present several general suggestions for designing interfaces for media collections.