Exploratory Wayfinding in Wide Field Ethnography
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This thesis focuses on what wayfinding means in Wide Field Ethnography (WFE), and how to improve wayfinding activities in WFE datasets. WFE datasets are too large, unstructured and complex for researchers to easily understand, navigate, browse, filter, annotate, and analyze. This thesis studies how frameworks and tools can help WFE researchers find their way through such large, complex, unguided, unstructured, unorganized, and continuously changing datasets to enable researchers to find phenomenon of interest in WFE datasets with relative ease and to use collaboration to uncover patterns. Using empirical data collected from observation sessions, this research identifies a set of WFE wayfinding challenges, and proposes approaches by which these challenges could be mitigated to improve WFE wayfinding. The data suggests that wayfinding in WFE datasets is largely exploratory in nature, leading us to define a new concept called Exploratory Wayfinding in WFE that aims to use tools to augment human capabilities to discover otherwise undefined patterns, and help researchers navigate and explore WFE datasets. In particular, this thesis establishes an exploratory wayfinding framework whose purpose is to help WFE researchers explore phenomenon of interest by making sense of patterns to uncover landmarks. To help reason about wayfinding in WFE, and also to evaluate the efficacy of this approach, this thesis introduces a prototype tool for exploratory wayfinding in WFE datasets. The tool is based upon the exploratory wayfinding framework, and supports landmarking so that researchers can leave markers in the otherwise unstructured and unguided datasets. The research results suggest that tools can improve a set of exploratory wayfinding activities, and suggest that exploratory wayfinding could be used for other domains of inquiry beyond WFE.