Do People in Low Resource Environments only Need Search? Exploring Digital Archive Functionalities in South Africa

Akhigbe, Bernard I. and Mtombeni, Khanyisa and Densmore, Melissa and Suleman, Hussein (2022) Do People in Low Resource Environments only Need Search? Exploring Digital Archive Functionalities in South Africa, Proceedings of 43rd Conference of the South African Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists, 18-20 July 2022, Cape Town, South Africa, 85, 158–171, EasyChair EPiC Series in Computing.

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Existing user studies on how users use digital archives as information systems seldom focus on what influences users’ needs and expectations. Similarly, not much is known about how the low resource context influences users’ needs. What users expect from searching and other related functionalities is rarely addressed in the cultural heritage and historical digital archives. These gaps unveil the mismatch between users’ needs (and expectations) and deployed technologies in the low resource context. As a result, delivering novel services through these digital archives is impossible because of the gap between design and reality. Users in the low resource environment are thus constrained to use whatever functionalities are available. This paper presents the empirical result of a user study. We determined the study’s sample framing using the future determination analysis technique. This analysis also guided the scoping of the study’s survey. The study foregrounds the need to adapt to users’ ever-changing expectations by understanding their needs. This is critical for a better system design that meets users’ expectations. A key finding is that users strongly prefer simple search functionalities in low-resource environments. Regardless, they would prefer to use advanced features if given the opportunity. However, the expertise (and sometimes funding) needed to satisfy this desire is scarce. The surveyed users are only end-users without the expertise to innovate and build digital archives to meet their needs. This dearth of “resource(s)” was found to be characteristic of the experience of low resource (or resource-poor) settings like South Africa.

Item Type: Conference paper
Subjects: Information systems
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2022 10:57
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2022 10:57

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