Selection Power and Selection Labor for Information Retrieval

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This study examines the relation between selection power and selection labor for information retrieval (IR). It is the first part of the development of a labor theoretic approach to IR. Existing models for evaluation of IR systems are reviewed and the distinction of operational from experimental systems partly dissolved. The often covert, but powerful, influence from technology on practice and theory is rendered explicit. Selection power is understood as the human ability to make informed choices between objects or representations of objects and is adopted as the primary value for IR. Selection power is conceived as a property of human consciousness, which can be assisted or frustrated by system design. The concept of selection power is further elucidated, and its value supported, by an example of the discrimination enabled by index descriptions, the discovery of analogous concepts in partly independent scholarly and wider public discourses, and its embodiment in the design and use of systems. Selection power is regarded as produced by selection labor, with the nature of that labor changing with different historical conditions and concurrent information technologies. Selection labor can itself be decomposed into description and search labor. Selection labor and its decomposition into description and search labor will be treated in a subsequent article, in a further development of a labor theoretic approach to information retrieval.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-923
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Issue number7
Early online date14 Mar 2007
Publication statusPublished - May 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences

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