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IB and emotion: Dr Diane Nahl 21st May 2009

Page history last edited by Sheila Webber 15 years ago

This is the text from the notecard, and the references, provided by Dr Diane Nahl, U. of Hawaii (Adra Letov in SL) for her talk


The Information Environment is Affect-Driven

held on May 21, 2009 on InfoLit iSchool, University of Sheffield as part of the Centre for Information Literacy Research series


Text (prepared for a Speakeasy HUD)

Note that the presentation was given in Voice (no recording was made of this). Other participants spoke in text chat: the chatlog is here:http://sleeds.org/chatlog/?c=418


Thank you Sheila for inviting me, it’s a real pleasure speaking with this group.

I have been a Second Life resident for 15 months, working in the professional library and educational areas.

I entered SL to explore its instructional and professional uses.

Information literacy is a longstanding research area of mine and I was interested in experiencing VW IL.

Let me begin by stating that I believe librarians need to be in virtual worlds to reinvent and develop innovations in information services,

to prepare for the influx of virtualized students and actively participate in the growing virtual world education movement.

So for the first time, this spring term I brought in a small class of library and information science graduate students new to SL.

This was an interface assessment course and SL was the interface of interest.

Lori Bell of Alliance Virtual Library gave us a parcel and a building for a center intended to help integrate

the increasing number of MLIS, MIS, IS and students in related fields entering SL through new courses.

The LIS Student Union, now on InfoIsland International was used throughout the term as classroom, meeting place, home base, project workshop area, and event location.


The class met 60-90 minutes a week inworld in an active learning workshop format.

We were in an RL classroom, students had laptops, my screen was projected.

In the first week students learned virtual skills via the Virtual Ability Island orientation walk.

Then each week gracious guest instructors, including Sheila, took us places, taught us how to use and create a variety of virtual information sharing tools, and other activities.

These VW skills were utilized in producing two events, a mid-term St. Patrick’s Day themed social networking party,

 and at the end of the term the LIS Career Fair held in conjunction with the Library Fair.

Both productions presented a number of challenges to students who worked in teams and learned much beyond the instructional sessions.

Students not only used their new virtual abilities to produce useful professional events and resources,

they reflected on and systematically studied their own use of SL in the process, focusing on affective issues that spontaneously arose.

Later they studied one or two other SL users attempting what should be routine tasks (find a certain book in an SL collection), also with a focus on spontaneous affect.

Their research illustrates the continuous ebb and flow of emotion driving cognitive work in SL.

A common thread in this and prior research is the finding that emotion is active and influential in every interaction involving the use and sharing of information.

The term “emotional bandwidth,” was defined (circa early 1990’s) by Mitch Kapor as the degree to which technology communicates emotional information.

Emotional intelligence and social intelligence have become valued information handling abilities at work and in life.

Emotional design and affective computing are the newest approaches in HCI where the focus is on how users feel while experiencing technology.

It is assumed that increasing affectivity in virtual world systems has the potential to enhance social presence, engagement, and learning.

Researchers in a variety of disciplines examine the role of affect in decision-making, a vital activity in information seeking and use.

Affective neuroscience demonstrates that higher cognitive functions are founded upon and connected to the emotional brain, allowing for optimized processing of information (Norman, 2004).

The affective system helps us “make rapid selections between good and bad” (p. 12).

Because decisions are filtered by values, preferences and priorities, “Without emotions, your decision making ability would be impaired.” (p. 10)

Alice Isen (2004) repeatedly finds that positive attitude in problem solving situations yields greater success because people consider more options and more diverse strategies.

Optimism broadens thinking while pessimism narrows it and limits success.

In my Information and Emotion book (2007) two-dozen information behavior researchers present findings on the role of affect.

Lynne McKechnie, et al. (2007) studied why people read to discover what motivates reading.

They found people read as an act of love, for emotional connection, for coping information, to gain mastery and control of emotions, and relate to books as touchstone.

Sheri Massey et al. (2007) worked with children who both wrote and posted book reviews on the ICDL and read reviews by other children.


They found children naturally use multiple emotions as descriptive terms when reading and writing reviews.

Books were happy, funny, scary, pretty, nice, sad, and children want to search for books by how it makes them feel,

and recommend books by how books made them feel.

ICDL uses emotional metadata contributed by kids to enhance their experience.

Helena Mentis (2007) studied instances of user frustration and found the information we remember depends on the intensity of emotions we have during an incident,

and the emotionally rich events are remembered more often.

She shows how intense emotions can arise throughout tasks and not always in response to failure.

Users constantly evaluate their success in each stage of goal attainment, and when frequently thwarted can experience an emotional roller coaster.

My research has focused on the role of affect in information literacy.

So I was interested in identifying positive and negative feelings of future librarians using SL’s interface within a class.

I wanted to find out if MLIS students learned and practiced what is involved,

would they value the experience highly enough to want to work as virtual world librarians in their career?

Some of the findings from the students’ ethnographic case studies are similar to those reported in published studies of SL use (Notecard refs).

This example shows a common pattern of intensifying negative feelings in a person while searching for a particular book in a collection [find the Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe] (Abbott, 2009).

“Says annoyed by slow rezzing of building interior

Says irritated that had to wait for book covers to rez

Expressed frustration with persistent rezzing issues”

Annoyance laden comments of the person in these tasks included “I will wait for this to rez, possibly this week….” (Hahn, 2009)

In the next search task in a different collection [take a photo of your avatar sitting and appearing to read a book] the same person:

“Liked mouse-over feature with title/author so that don't have to wait for rezzing

Expressed wish for a book catalog

Expressed frustration that still can't find book”

Searching for objects such as books in SL is difficult to impossible because there a few if any finding aids, and can take 20 times longer than a Web search (Hahn, 2009).

Even without rezzing issues, reading in SL is uncomfortable but people expect and want to be able to pick-up a book, open it and read it (Hahn, 2009).

Participants attempted to do that.

This person reported a mostly negative experience in the two tasks due to slow rezzing,

unmet expectations of collection organization, and differences in RL-SL procedures.

Common RL organization methods were not used in the two SL collections (alphabetical or call number), and often the affordances needed to do the task were not noticed and not engaged (Dohe, 2009).

To “sit in a chair and appear to read” in SL is a different process from RL and none of the participants noticed the hover text instructions above the reading chair.

Those floaty text things are even harder to see, so visual acuity plays a significant role along with RL expectations (get book, sit, open book, read) (Wilton, 2009).

These tasks required people to discover by noticing cues in the immersive environment how to find the book or appear to sit and read.

There is so much to notice, so many noticables that the experience is overwhelming.

The longer it took to end the task the more intense the emotional expression.

When search efforts are thwarted uncertainty spikes, increasing affective load (irritation, anxiety, frustration, rage), and ramping up the urgency of information needs (time pressure) (Nahl, 2007).

If eventually successful, satisfaction rose, if unsuccessful it was lower.

One person’s interview with a library reference bot was “increasingly nonsensical, hilarious and frustrating,” and unacceptable by RL reference interview standards (Takayesu, 2009, 4-5).

The person felt it was a poor representation of librarians, a humiliating joke and waste of time.

Joe Sanchez (2009) who has taught in SL since 2006 reports these common emotional expressions from his classes:

frustrating, boring, tedious, overwhelming, addicting, awkward, too time consuming;

as well as, fun, interesting, pleasure (of creating and interacting), involving (engaging), a sense of accomplishment and pride

The 2009 report What Kids Want to Do in virtual worlds showed the top activities are inherently emotional in nature http://www.kzero.co.uk/blog/?p=2722

Social chat with friends and make new friends

Playing games

Relationship experience (taking care of a virtual pet or plant) and

Dressing up

Emotion drives activity in SL just as it does in the physical world because “the human social environment that emerges … is no different from any other human social environment.” (Castronova, 2005, p. 7)

Creating a more pleasant and intuitive user experience  is a worthy goal that enables education in virtual worlds to become ubiquitous.

These efforts must examine the affective costs and stressors that could be reduced with significant design mods.

After this experience most of my students want to work in virtual worlds.

Some are taking my fall course Virtual World Librarianship and some are intending to or are already volunteering in SL.

It has been lovely speaking with you today. Thank you for such an interesting experience!

I hope to see you all again soon around SL.

Feel free to IM or Friend me or just chat.



Abbott, Hanalei. 2009. LIS 677 User Study: User Interface Interactions in a Virtual World: An Assessment of Information Seeking Behavior in Second Life. Ms.

Castronova, Edward. 2005. Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Dohe, Kate. 2009. LIS 677 User Study: Metaphorical Design in Virtual Worlds.   http://katedohe.wordpress.com/2009/04/25/metaphorical-design-in-virtual-worlds/

Gayatinea, Pete. 2009. LIS 677 User Study: Instant User Interface Interaction Study. Ms.

Hahn, Amanda.  2009. LIS 677 User Study: Book Search and Display in Second Life. Ms.

Isen, Alice M. 2004. Positive Affect and Decision Making. In M. Lewis & J.M. Haviland-Jones, Eds., Handbook of Emotions. New York: Guilford Press, pp. 417–435.

Kids, Tweens, and Teens in Virtual Worlds Case Study. 2009. http://www.kzero.co.uk/blog/?p=2722

Massey, Sheri A. 2007. Emotion, Response, and Recommendation: The Role of Affect in Children’s Book Reviews in a Digital Library. In Diane Nahl and Dania Bilal, eds., Information and Emotion: The Emergent Affective Paradigm in Information Behavior Research and Theory. (Medford, NJ: Information Today), pp. 135-160.

McKechnie, Lynne, Catherine Sheldrick Ross, and Paulette Rothbauer. 2007. Affective Dimensions of Information Seeking in the Context of Reading. In Diane Nahl and Dania Bilal, eds., Information and Emotion: The Emergent Affective Paradigm in Information Behavior Research and Theory. (Medford, NJ: Information Today), pp. 187-196.

Mentis, Helena. 2007. Memory of Frustrating Experiences. In Diane Nahl and Dania Bilal, eds., Information and Emotion: The Emergent Affective Paradigm in Information Behavior Research and Theory. (Medford, NJ: Information Today), pp. 197-210.

Nahl, Diane. 2007. The Centrality of the Affect in Information Behavior. In Diane Nahl and Dania Bilal, eds., Information and Emotion: The Emergent Affective Paradigm in Information Behavior Research and Theory. (Medford, NJ: Information Today), pp. 3-38.

Norman, Donald A. 2004. Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things. New York, Basic Books.

Sanchez, Joe. 2009. Implementing Second Life: Ideas, Challenges, and Innovations. Library Technology Reports 45 (2).

Sharp, Helen, Rogers, Yvonne, & Preece, Jenny. (2007). Chapter 5. “Affective Aspects.” In Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd, ed., New York, NY: Wiley, pp. 181-215.

Takayesu, Tracy. 2009. LIS 677 User Study: Instant User Interaction Study in a Virtual World, Ms.

Wilton, Jenna. 2009. LIS 677 User Study: Affective Response to Information Affordances in Remote Users of Second Life. Ms.


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