A labor theoretic approach to information retrieval

Julian Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
326 Downloads (Pure)


This article synthesizes the labor theoretic approach to information retrieval. Selection power is taken as the fundamental value for information retrieval and is regarded as produced by selection labor. Selection power remains relatively constant while selection labor modulates across oral, written, and computational modes. A dynamic, stemming principally from the costs of direct human mental labor and effectively compelling the transfer of aspects of human labor to computational technology, is identified. The decision practices of major information system producers are shown to conform with the motivating forces identified in the dynamic. An enhancement of human capacities, from the increased scope of description processes, is revealed. Decision variation and decision considerations are identified. The value of the labor theoretic approach is considered in relation to pre-existing theories, real world practice, and future possibilities. Finally, the continuing intractability of information retrieval is suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-741
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Issue number5
Early online date11 Feb 2008
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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