Stephann Makri

Senior Lecturer - Centre for HCI Design

Discovering the Unfindable: The Tension Between Findability and Discoverability in a Bookshop Designed for Serendipity

Serendipity is a key aspect of user experience, particularly in the context of information acquisition – where it is known as information encountering. Unexpectedly encountering interesting or useful information can spark new insights while surprising and delighting. However, digital environments have been designed primarily for goal-directed seeking over loosely-directed exploration, searching over discovering. In this paper we examine a novel physical environment – a bookshop designed primarily for serendipity – for cues as to how information encountering might be helped or hindered by digital design. Naturalistic observations and interviews revealed it was almost impossible for participants to find specific books or topics other than by accident. But all unexpectedly encountered interesting books, highlighting a tension between findability and discoverability.

About the speaker:

Dr. Stephann Makri is a Senior Lecturer in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), at the intersection of HCI and Information Science. He specialises in Human Information Interaction (how people interact holistically with digital information environments – e.g. websites, search engines, digital libraries, social media). His work involves understanding peoples’ experiences of actively seeking, passively encountering, interpreting and using digital information and using this understanding to design new and improve existing digital information environments.

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