Beyond search: discovery

A couple of recent sketches and "what ifs" by designers offer a counterpoint – or should I say, complement – to our Search Working Group conversation about better search: what about better web sites?

Imagine if Amazon depended on customers searching generic search engines to find books and merchandise they wanted to purchase. People do that – but Amazon built a much bigger business around e-commerce by making it incredibly easy for people to not only find items they know they want  to buy – by searching for them – but also items they don’t know they want to buy – discovered by a powerful recommendation engine that matches your past purchases and opinions with those of other people. Hence: "People who bought this book also bought …"

Back in 2001 Amazon inspired Ellen Kampinsky, Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis to re-imagine news as a social process of discovery. It was called Amazoning The New.

Travis Smith (an occasional contributor to the iFOCOS blog), along with HOP studios (and life) partner Susannah Gardner, have attempted a similar "treatment" with a new model: Flickr. See: Flickring The News

Meanwhile, the UK’s Press Gazette pointed me to Oliver Reichenstein of Information Achitects Japan, who re-imagined The Washington Post as if it were a wiki.

Sure, you could now try to Digg the News, Gather The News or Reddit The News; or forget what-ifs and dive in to Newsvine, Now Public or NewsTrust (I’m an advisor); or splice it all together in Netvibes

What I’d *really* like to see is something a bit more radical and a lot more beautiful. I’m ready for Absolut News.

So – anyone interested in launching (and leading) an iFOCOS Design Working Group? Goals: crank out a series of product sketches and concepts – and maybe inspire someone to invest and build a few of them for real.

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