An ontological framework for contextualising information in hypermedia systems

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The Internet has become part of everyday modern life. A central component of the Internet is the World Wide Web. With hundreds of millions of users trying to find information they need amongst billions of pages, there is an urgent need for tools that help users find the information they need. A key element in assisting users find information is their context. Being able to model and store a user's context provides information about the user that can be used to augment their information-seeking behaviours. This work investigated the hypothesis that it is possible to create an ontology of context that can be used to create tools that users perceive to be useful and easy to use when performing information-seeking behaviours on the World Wide Web. This hypothesis was investigated through three research stages. First, a concept of context was developed that applies to information-seeking behaviours on the World Wide Web. Next, this concept was modelled using an ontology, and a software framework was created based on this ontology. This framework was used to create tools that augment the information-seeking behaviours of users of the World Wide Web. Finally, an empirical evaluation of these tools was performed to determine if they were perceived to be useful and easy to use. The results of the evaluation indicate that the tools constructed were perceived to be useful and easy to use, providing evidence that supports the validity of the hypothesis. This outcome encourages further research and development into using an ontology of context to develop tools that help people using the World Wide Web to find the information that they need.
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