Search vs Discovery (Or A New Approach to Information Consumption)
Search and discovery are two very different approaches to information consumption. Search has boomed in the last decade, more than 130 billion searches were conducted during 2010. Information overload is driving a new approach to consuming Web information. Search provides an answer. “Discovery” provides awareness. While still at an early stage a new breed of tools, content discovery engines, is gaining traction to complement search engines.
Search vs Discovery: Advantages of Internet Content Discovery Tools
Content discovery tools offer a new approach to information consumption that brings a series of advantages over search engines:
- Awareness instead of specific answers: Discovery engines aggregate content related to a particular area of interest. The user goes through the information associated with the topic to monitor recent content and gain awareness of “what is going on”. A content discovery engine helps users ensure that they are not missing important information related to their topic of interest.
- Provide ongoing content: Staying aware means monitoring topics of interest over time. The Internet content discovery process continues as long as the user maintains interest in that specific topic. The frequency with which the user decides to monitor new developments depends primarily on time frame related for their need for awareness as well as speed of information flow. Whether new content is monitored every hour, every day or every week, discovery remains a continuing process.
- Focus on fresh content: The time-frame varies depending on the specific tool, but the common trait of discovery engines is their emphasis in newly published information. Some discovery engines make new information available in near real-time. Others can take hours or days as they monitor information (emergence, popularity, social graph, etc) before it is aggregated with the goal of increasing relevance.
- Facilitate content selection by the user: With content discovery tools, the user plays a larger role in the selection process. Discovery engines deliver targeted content on an ongoing basis for the users to review. Content may or may not be relevant to the user, depending upon the context of the user’s particular need. Awareness requires knowing what is being published and making more pieces of information easily accessible. With discovery engines, users receive topic-relevant content and are the judges of what is relevant to them, in the moment, based on their own experience, expertise and context.
- Provide unexpected information: In discovery mode, users do not have a specific result they are looking for. Instead, they have a topic about which they want to know about over a given time frame. For example; “What’s going on about alternative energy over the past week? As to the results, it is precisely because they want to find out what they don’t know that the content discovery engine is best adapted to awareness.
- Rely on search when you know what you are looking for (you need an answer and want to find the best resources) and this information is not very time sensitive
- Use content discovery tools when you need to know what is going on (what is new, what are people discussing right now) and want to find out what you don’t know.