Take your time first, time your search later: How college students perceive time in Web searching



This study explores people's perception of time during their Web searches. Time is a major component of the context for information behavior, but in empirical studies it has been implied rather than investigated explicitly. The data were collected from Web search experiments in which participants were asked to conduct searches on three given tasks under differing search time conditions. The paper reports on findings drawn primarily from the exit interviews of 45 undergraduate and graduate students on their perception of time in Web searching. Study results indicate that at the beginning of their searching activity, participants did not explicitly consider temporal issues. However, these issues usually surface with the passage of time, especially when searches fail to go as planned. Perception of time is closely entangled with familiarity and difficulty of search task. In general, participants enjoyed spending time in searching and were not excessively concerned about time constraints. On the other hand, participants' affective experiences were sometimes caused by temporal issues. In conclusion, the study results indicate that temporal issues interlace with other contextual and affective factors in the process of Web searching.