12 October 2018

Organized for browsing

In the traditional world, most things are organized so you can find them when you’re looking for them. That’s why you keep your tools in your tool chest and the forks in the silverware drawer. That’s why books are stored in alphabetical order, by author.

But in the digital world, finding is easy. Type what you want in the search bar.

What we’re still exploring, and not very successfully, is how to organize things for browsing. How do you bump into the thing you didn’t know you were looking for? How do you decide what your next home improvement project should be, or the next movie you should see?Organized for browsing

As a kid, one of my favorite things to do was to go into a record store and browse. I could buy perhaps buy one CD (or cassette in my early teens) per month so I’d have to make the correct pick. This was the album I was going to listen to non-stop for the next month at least. Same thing with going to video store (kids: think of it as a physical Netflix); the browsing was fun because it had meaning, you could only pick one. With digital streaming tool browsing is not fun because there’s no pressure to pick the right item, if you don’t like it you’ll just pick something else.

One of the reasons I love magazines and books is because I still have to make concious choices.

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