Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why Search is a Better Interface

With the advent of google, search as an interface is on the rise. Already, many desktop based systems are adopting search as an interface. In fact, many are now talking about search as the only interface. When I say search as an interface, what I means is this. In the traditional, navigational interfaces, you were required to know the location of a particular bit of information and then navigate to that location. For example, you had to know where you saved that files containing your tax information and navigate through the folders on your hard disk to get to it. With search, you just enter a search term, say “tax” and the files pops up in the search results. Windows 7 already has an excellent search based interface in the start menu. Gnome is building something like it with their Zeitgeist daemon.

So why is search a better interface. For one, it isn’t always. But when it is, this is why.

  • Everything in one place: search gives you everything in one place. When you search for something in the windows start menu, you get all your emails, your documents, your websites, your software applications all in one place. It is easier to correlate stuff and compare them.
  • Less effort: you have to remember less. All you need to know is what you’re looking for. The computer remembers where it’s located.
  • Easier to stumble upon: this is perhaps the advantage that a whole lot of people don’t realize exists. With search, it’s easier to stumble upon stuff. Maybe you searched for pics containing sunset and stumbled upon that song called sunset that you’d never known existed on your hard disk.

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