Audiovisual Narrative Creation and Creative Retrieval: How Searching for a Story Shapes the Story

Sabrina Sauer



Media professionals – such as news editors, image researchers, and documentary filmmakers - increasingly rely on online access to digital content within audiovisual archives to create narratives. Retrieving audiovisual sources therefore requires an in-depth knowledge of how to find sources digitally. These storytelling practices intertwine search technologies with the user’s ideas and production cultures. This paper presents qualitative research insights into how media professionals search in digital archives to create (trans)medial narratives, and uses the notion of creative retrieval to unravel the dynamics of audiovisual narrative production. Creative retrieval combines ideas about the effects of media convergence on media content, theories about serendipitous information retrieval, and studies of creativity to argue that retrieval practices of media professionals who create audiovisual narratives are governed by organizational, technological and content affordances and constraints. The paper furthermore exemplifies the first stage of an ongoing research project in which a user-centered design approach guides open source self-learning search algorithm development to support creative retrieval.


Audiovisual Narrative Creation; Transmedia Storytelling; Creative Retrieval; Serendipity; User Studies; Algorithm Development; User-Technology Interaction

Full Text:



Barocas, S., Hood, S., & Ziewitz, M. (May 2013). Governing algorithms: A provocation piece. Paper presented at Governing Algorithms: A Conference on Computation, Automation, and Control. New York University, NY, USA.

Draper, J. (2014). Theorizing creative agency through 'Discerned Savvy': A tool for the critical study of media industries. Media, Culture & Society, 36(8), 1118-1133.

Erdal, I. J. (2009). Cross-Media (re)production cultures. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 15(2), 215-231.

Erdelez, S. (1999). Information encountering: It's more than just bumping into information. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science, 25, 26-29.

Flusser, V. (2013). Towards a Philosophy of Photography. London, United Kingdom: Reaktion Books Ltd.

Foster, A. E., & Ellis, D. (2014). Serendipity and its study. Journal of Documentation, 70(6), 1015-1038.

Gillespie, T. (2014). The relevance of algorithms. In T. Gillespie, P.J. Boczkowski & K.A. Foot (Eds.), Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society (pp. 167-194). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Hallam, E., & Ingold, T. (2007). Creativity and cultural improvisation. Oxford, United Kingdom: Berg Publishers.

Havens, T., Lotz, A. D., & Tinic, S. (2009). Critical media industry studies: A research approach. Communication, Culture & Critique, 2, 234-253.

Huurnink, B., Hollink, L., & De Rijke, M. (2010). Search behavior of media professionals at an audiovisual archive: A transaction log analysis. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 61(6), 1180-1197.

Kim, Y., Seo, J., & Croft, W.B. (2011). Automatic boolean query suggestion for professional search. In W-.Y. Ma, & J-.Y. Nie (Eds.), Proceedings of the 34th International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval, (pp. 825-834). New York, USA: ACM.

Kouwenhoven, T. (2006). Zoeken + Navigeren = Vinden! In M. Lauwers & B. Hogenkamp (Eds.), Audiovisueel: Van emancipatie tot professionalisering (pp. 116-131). Den Haag, The Netherlands: Stichting Archiefpublicaties.

Latour, B. (1992). Where are the missing masses? The Sociology of a few mundane artifacts. In W. E. Bijker & J. Law (Eds.), Shaping technology/building society: Studies in sociotechnical change (pp. 225-258). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Makri, S., & Blandford, A. (2012). Coming across information serendipitously – Part 1: A process model. Journal of Documentation, 68(5), 684-705.

Makri, S., Blandford, A., Woods, M., Sharples, S., & Maxwell, D. (2014). 'Making my own luck': Serendipity strategies and how to support them in digital informational environments. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 65(11), 2179-2194.

Manovich, L. (2001). The language of new media. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

McCay-Peet, L., & Toms, E.G. (2010). The process of serendipity in knowledge work. In N.J. Belkin (Ed.), Proceedings of the Third Symposium on Information Interaction in Context pp 377-382). New York, USA: ACM.

McKenzie, P. J. (2003). A model of information practices in accounts of everyday-life information seeking. Journal of Documentation, 59(1), 19-40.

Murphy, P. D. (1999). Media cultural studies' uncomfortable embrace of ethnography. Journal of Communication Enquiry, 23(3), 205-221.

Orlikowski, W. J. (2000). Using technology and constituting structures: A practice lens for studying technology in organizations. Organization Science, 11(4), 404-428.

Orlikowski, W.J. (2007). Sociomaterial practices: Exploring technology at work. Organization Studies, 28(9), 1435-1448.

Oudshoorn, N., & Pinch, T. (2003). How users matter: The co-construction of users and technology. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Cunha, M. (2005). Serendipity: Why some organizations are luckier than others. Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Ed.), FEUNL Working Paper Series.

Qu, S., & Dumay, J. (2011). The qualitative research interview. Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, 8(3) 238-264.

Sauer, S., & De Rijke, M. (2016). Seeking serendipity: A living lab approach to understanding creative retrieval in broadcast media production. In R. Perego, & F. Sebastiani (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval (pp. 989-992). New York, USA: ACM.

Toms, E. G. (2000). Serendipitous information retrieval. In Proceedings, First DELOS Network of Excellence Workshop "Information Seeking, Searching and Querying in Digital Libraries," December 11-12, 2000, Zurich, Switzerland, pp 17-20. European Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics ERCIM-01-W01.

Vassilakaki, E., Garoufallou, E., Johnson, F., & Hartley, R.J. (2014). Users' information search behavior in a professional search environment: A methodological approach. In G. Paltoglou, F. Loizides, & P. Hansen (Eds.), Professional Search in the Modern World. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (Vol. 8830), (pp. 23-44). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG.

Voskarides, N., Meij, E., & de Rijke, M. (2017). Generating descriptions of entity relationships. In J.M. Jose, C. Hauff, I.S. Altingovde, D. Song, D. Albakour, S. Watt & J. Tait (Eds.), Advances in Information Retrieval. ECIR 2017. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (Vol. 10193), (pp 317-330). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Journal of Science and Technology of the Arts
Revista de Ciência e Tecnologia das Artes
ISSN: 1646-9798
e-ISSN: 2183-0088
Portuguese Catholic University | Porto

Esta revista científica é financiada por Fundos Nacionais através da FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

 Governo da República Portuguesa