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Zalinger, J., Freier, N., Freire, M., Shneiderman, B.
Reading Ben Shneiderman’s Email: Identifying Narrative Elements in Email Archives

This paper describes techniques for finding narrative elements in the archived email of a scholar. The goal is to test a narrative approach to searching using a 15-year email archive containing nearly 45,000 messages belonging to University of Maryland Professor Ben Shneiderman and ranging from 1984-1998. The goal is not to find complete narratives (although, many do exist) but to search for narrative elements, the building blocks that make up a narrative. Thus, narrative search is defined as both a set of search techniques and a way of thinking like a storyteller that allows designers and users to uncover narrative elements. We argue that narrative search is a promising strategy that can be productively applied to other email archives. This paper makes a contribution to HCI by showing that a narrative approach to search can be productive and com-pelling. By encouraging designers (and users) to think like storytellers, we can create robust in-terfaces that help users make narrative sense out of overwhelming amounts of messages.

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