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Cognitive assumptions

``Garbage in, garbage out'' is one of the first insights every software developer learns, and FOA is no exception. The primary source of data considered by traditional IR methods, and the focus of Chapters §2.1 and §3 of this text, are the documents of the corpus, particularly the keywords they contain. (Chapter §6 will consider the use of other document attributes.) A fundamental feature of the broader FOA view is that {\bf browsing users provide an equally important source of data} concerning what keywords mean and what documents are about. It is therefore appropriate to begin by characterizing just who these users are that we will be watching.

We begin with one important cognitive assumption we must make about our users: How thorough a FOA search do they wish to perform? Is this an important search to which the users are willing to dedicate a great deal of time and attention, or will a quick, cursory answer suffice? For example, Chapter 1 mentioned how much less exhaustive the typical undergraduate (doing some quick research before submitting a term paper) is than the PhD candidate (who wants to ensure his or her proposed dissertation topic is new). The typical WWW searcher seems satisfied with only a few useful leads, but the professional searcher (a lawyer looking for any case that might help, a doctor looking for any science that might heal a patient) will search diligently if there is even a small chance of finding another relevant document. This kind of variability can be observed not only across different classes of users but even across the same user at different times. The idea is that a very pragmatic need might initially cause users to come to the \EB, but often continue to read as they learn that their initial query does not have a simple answer. Imagine that you want the answer to a simple, factual query, for example,the height of Mt. Everest. The first couple of paragraphs of the article on Mt. Everest would meet a simple version of this information need quite admirably: \bq Tibetan CHOMOLUNGMA, Chinese (Wade-Giles) CHU-MU-LANG-MA FENG, (Pinyin) QOMOLANGMA FENG, Nepali SAGARMATHA, peak on the crest of the Great Himalaya Range in Asia, the highest point on Earth. It lies on the border between Nepal and China (Tibet), at 27 [{degree}] 59' N, 86[{degree}] 56' E.

Three barren ridges--the Southeast, Northeast, and West--culminate in two summits at 29,028 feet (8,848 m; Everest) and 28,700 feet (8,748 m; South Peak). The mountain can be seen directly from its northeastern side, where it rises about 12,000 feet (3,600 m) above the Plateau of Tibet. The lesser peaks of Changtse (north; 24,803 feet [7,560 m]), Khumbutse (northwest; 21,867 feet [6,665 m]), Nuptse (southwest; 25,791 feet [7,861 m]), and Lhotse (south; 27,890 feet [8,501 m]), which rise around its base, hide the summit from Nepal. {} WW.EB.COM:180/CGI-BIN/G?DOCF=MICRO/199/84.html>} .EB.COM:180/CGI-BIN/G?DOCF=MICRO/199/84.html>} B.COM:180/CGI-BIN/G?DOCF=MICRO/199/84.html>} COM:180/CGI-BIN/G?DOCF=MICRO/199/84.html>} M:180/CGI-BIN/G?DOCF=MICRO/199/84.html>} 180/CGI-BIN/G?DOCF=MICRO/199/84.html>} 0/CGI-BIN/G?DOCF=MICRO/199/84.html>} CGI-BIN/G?DOCF=MICRO/199/84.html>} I-BIN/G?DOCF=MICRO/199/84.html>} BIN/G?DOCF=MICRO/199/84.html>} N/G?DOCF=MICRO/199/84.html>} G?DOCF=MICRO/199/84.html>} DOCF=MICRO/199/84.html>} CF=MICRO/199/84.html>} =MICRO/199/84.html>} ICRO/199/84.html>} RO/199/84.html>} /199/84.html>} 99/84.html>} /84.html>} 4.html>} html>} ml>} >} \eq

But in fact there are at least three numbers that could legitimately be given as this answer, each associated with a separate expedition at a different point in history! The online version of the Encyclopedia Britannicamakes this additional ``Research Note'': \bq The generally accepted figure of 29,028 feet (8,848 m) for the height of Mount Everest was established by the Indian government's Survey of India in 1952-54. This datum is used by, among others, the (U.S.) National Geographic Society.

A Chinese survey in 1975 obtained the figure of 29,029 feet, and an Italian survey, using satellite surveying techniques, obtained a value of 29,108 feet (8,872 m) in 1987, but, owing to questions about the methods used, neither of these results is widely accepted. In 1986 a measurement of K2, regarded as the second highest mountain, seemed to indicate that it was higher than Everest, but this was subsequently shown to be an error. In 1992 another Italian survey, using a global satellite positioning system and laser measurement technology, yielded the figure 29,023 feet (8,846 m) by subtracting from the measured height the 6.5 feet (2 m) of ice and snow on the summit; this value has not found general acceptance. {} \eq These sagas make for very interesting reading, but only if you have the additional time and energy available to benefit from such education. Section §8.3.4 will explore this connection between FOA and educational objectives in further detail. }


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