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Talking, looking, flying, searching: information seeking behaviour in Second Life

Margaret Ostrander (Thomson Reuters, Eagan, Minnesota, USA)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 21 November 2008




This research seeks to answer, “How do everyday Second Life users go about finding needed information?” as the primary research question.


A virtual ethnographic approach couched in grounded theory was utilized to conduct semi‐structured interviews with everyday users of Second Life, accompanied by participant observation.


Information seeking behaviors within the virtual world of Second Life were found to be rich, complex interaction with multiple facets. Five themes emerged to illuminate how users seek information.

Research limitations/implications

This research took place over a six‐week period, although most enthographies last at least one year. Conclusions were drawn solely from interviews because participant observation did not penetrate a given community with enough depth to adequately address the research question.

Practical implications

Virtual worlds offer the promise of becoming an integrated part of the information seeking landscape for an increasing number of users. Understanding the factors influencing information seeking behavior that are outlined in this article will equip librarians and information professionals to best utilize virtual worlds and continue to create innovative, user‐focused services there.


This article extends current scholarship by offering a practical, five‐factor approach to understand how people seek information in virtual worlds. The literature is robust in description about library services and the nature of information in virtual worlds. Yet, investigation into information seeking behavior in this environment is in its nascent stages.



Ostrander, M. (2008), "Talking, looking, flying, searching: information seeking behaviour in Second Life", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 512-524.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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