Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's November 2001

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Everyday people seek information to perform tasks and to arrive at optimal decisions. At jobs and in schools information plays a vital role in learning and succeeding. Many times people become faced with challenging issues and in order for them to make wise and informed decisions, different types of information are needed. In gathering information for economic, interpersonal, medical, or social reasons various sources are used.

Today, information seeking takes place in three main areas: electronic media, print media, and word of mouth. Using the "critical incident technique", I will perform an interview where I will investigate how my volunteer went about finding information to help with a major personal decision.

The person that I am using for this information-seeking project is a second year ACS student at the University of Western Ontario. During the summer breaks he performs duties as a manager of a local painting company. He is also responsible for hiring painters and completing all administrative functions on his own time and by his own means.

This particular subject's critical incident happened this past summer; he was in a car accident in which his personal vehicle was damaged and could no longer be driven. This created a major problem for him because he "didn't have any way of finishing or starting the jobs" that he needed to do in order to meet deadlines. His job pays for his "education and living expenses as well", so the situation had to be solved immediately. He had to make the decision "whether to buy a new car, rent a car, or work in conjunction with a friend who did have a car" .The first two options obviously involve a great one-time expenditure of cash. The latter involves paying a certain percentage of income to his friend.

What was the information that he required in making the decision? The first thing that he had to find out was how much longer he would need a car for and if he would keep it at the end of the summer. After figuring this out, he would have to get information on how much it would cost to rent a car, to use his friend's car, and to buy a car. It would have to be "something that could get me where I needed to go with out costing me an arm and a leg, it didn't have to look like anything much". He also "called the Insurance companies to find out if my rates were affected and to find out about the subsequent new rates for the next car.