Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Searching, Browsing and Serendipity Discover

In the last few years I participated to many discussions about browsing versus searching. I am personally more inclined to search than browse, but recently I am fascinated by a new emerging modality of information seeking: serendipity discovery. There are a number of applications that enable this type of discover. Some applications, as Pandora or StumbleUpon, allow users to discover information they may like using peer-sourcing and social-networking principles.
Other applications, as Aweditorium make the discover a fun engaging experience. While user is getting lost playing with the interface, they may stumble on something of actual interest.



Last week, while I was attending CHI 2012, I was intrigued by a presentation that was exposing this same principle: The Bohemian Bookshelf Supporting Serendipitous Discoveries through Visualization. Below a video which illustrates the idea.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

4 comments:

portia said...

This was a neat video. I always find these types of CHI things cool, but I struggle to figure out how to apply them in my work. Any thoughts on that?

ruth said...

This is beautiful! - so organic and seductive - the interaction draws you in so that it almost becomes purely viseral. You are responding in a very subliminal manner to the content. I think that is where the serendipity comes in - we are always making connections and associations every time we precieve anything but we are so seldom aware of this process as it occurs. This mechanism gives us a way to pull those connections out of our heads and use them to guide us to places we would never have found with a more targeted, linear search.

The searchable items are treated more like objects rather than conceptual content(color, publication date, alphabetical list of the titles) I think that because we are so caught up in the physical interaction (moving, pulling, expanding,...)Its like playing with a ball - we are focusing on the feel of the objects while our brains are still whirring and making all these other connections - this delivers us from the tedium and restraint of having to really read, think about and decide "where do I go next" so that we can just let ourselves be drawn into and access our vast unconsious database containing millions of connections.

There are much earlier versions of this type of serendipitous wandering that have both very practical and 'art' based applications

http://www.visualthesaurus.com/

http://www.wefeelfine.org/wefeelfine_pc.html

In particular - wefeelfine - the chaos mode, actualy gives you the sense of wandering through a crowd and reading their thoughts which can really trigger this sort of subliminal response and pathfinding.

I think serendipity discover would be very compelling applied to venues where we are really living in our right brain and our emotions. What about an on-line dating application where we wander through a crowd and can 'read their thoughts' and seamlessly access diffrent facets of their personalities and life styles - we could also see them as a collective and visualize relationships between them.

Claudia Wey said...

Portia. In general I see what you mean, but this article was a revelation for me. When dealing with information seeking, the only two options I had considered were browsing and searching. While theses are still great options when you know what you want, there are many other cases when you would like to wonder around, and you know what you like only when you stumble upon it. Some examples where this new modality may work is when you look for we music to listen, or a new book to read, or some picture that you may like, or even buy a present for someone. Some examples which are closer to your and mine experience could be trendy, cody or even file exchange.

Claudia Wey said...

Ruth. Thanks for your inspiring comments and for the two links, which I will definitely check out!!!

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