The physicality of early-stage information needs

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How do we realise that we need information: what motivates a movement from unconscious states of incomplete knowledge into conscious states of information need? Everyday language expresses this transition as motivated by sensory feelings of anxiety, dissatisfaction, or gut ‘feelings’ of something being wrong. However, there is no theoretical account of the sensory experiences that lead us to be aware of sub-conscious information needs. This short paper proposes that anomalous states of knowledge are potentially dangerous, and that our brains translate this potential harm into physical sensations which force our attention to the uncertainty caused by information incompleteness or inconsistency: that is, our brain encourages us to ‘feel’ information needs and that investigating how these often unpleasant feelings arise could be a fruitful line of enquiry into understanding information needs.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2022
EventASIS&T SIG-USE Symposium -
Duration: 8 Oct 20229 Oct 2022


WorkshopASIS&T SIG-USE Symposium


  • information need
  • physical sensations
  • evolution
  • information behaviour
  • human body


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