Thursday, November 8, 2007

Is browsing analagous to channel surfing?

I was involved in an interesting conversation this week at the Defrag conference on the question of search versus discovery. The conversation wandered into browsing, and the social mediated solutions such as StumbleUpon and Me.dium I commented that browsing was something that I just didn't do anymore.

I was trying to make some sense of this, and mentioned that I thought browsing was analogous to channel surfing or radio station scanning. Channel surfing was a habit from when we had something less than 100 channels to choose from. Once we started getting hundreds of channels through cable or satellite, surfing came to an immediate end. Same with radio, station scanning works when you're limited to the channels you can receive from local broadcast. As soon as you get hundreds of channels through satellite, scanning is way too inefficient to be of any use. I wonder if the death of browsing isn't the same thing? Once you start following hundreds of Web sites non-mediated browsing is no longer an efficient or effective option for discovery.

So I'm curious, is browsing headed the way of channel surfing? Is your browsing on the decline? Have you adopted a social mediated browsing solution? Which one?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hey Kevin,

I think the analogy to TV is a good one in terms of why your "discovery/browsing" activity is headed down a dead end. The dilemma is a lack of visibility into what's around you. If browsing can be extended into an environment, where you have some visibility into what and who are around you wherever you are, similar to walking around in the real world, then the experience can become much more about discovery and "wandering" based on the activity around you.

That's why companies like StumbleUpon and Me.dium are gaining traction. The environment does matter in terms of where you go and what you do.

David (from Me.dium)