Information accessibility problems include diverse types of human- and system-driven barriers that make it difficult for individuals to access desired information. These issues have been studied in two main streams: (1) a human-centered view based on the understanding of individual-level characteristics such as physical impairment and economic status, and (2) a technology-focused view that emphasizes system-based factors such as the information filtering techniques and interface designs.
This paper presents the findings from a project about how international students seek and acquire information during their settlement in an unknown geo-spatial environment. Through semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, and cognitive mapping with twenty international students, this study examines their information needs, information sources, and settlement experiences in the host country.
This research project had been conducted for my master's thesis (Master of Information Management degree). I conceptualized cultual background with Hall's high- and low-context culture (1976) and tried to see whether people's perceptions of urban places vary between physical addresses and symbolic representations of spaces (landmarks), when their cultural backgrounds were different. A survey questionnaire was used to measure cultural background, and a web-based online game was used to measure people's perceptions of places.
Geo-local systems can significantly increase users' familiarity with new places. However, for these systems to be useful, geospatial information needs to be presented in ways that those systems can minimize users' difficulties of learning about a new place. This raises a fundamental question about what kinds and representations of geospatial information are effective in making a place more familiar, so that people can adjust to the place more easily even before visiting the unfamiliar world.