In part 1of this blog entry, you learned what factors are relevant in electronic information searches. Here, you’ll read why quicker isn’t always better.

Slow Search: Results quality keeping pace

The so-called slow search approach deals with the time factor in an unconventional way. According to this way of thinking, speed is important in an information search, but result quality is more important. The basic idea is simple: when we leave out the normal requirement for the highest possible speed in searching for information, we might find other aspects that could more significantly improve search success.

Fewer errors through deceleration

For example, more complex and complicated computing models or algorithms could take longer than we’re used to with a Google query, but the results quality might increase significantly, for instance by strongly weighting results towards the semantics of a search query. Users can also benefit from slower search processes by making fewer errors and taking more time to consider which information they really need. It might sound a little heavy-handed, but it’s definitely worth trying out for yourself.

Of course, the slow search approach is strongly dependent on context. The ideas are promising for complex information requirements such as scientific research. In other situations, sped is going to remain king – for instance in call centres, in which customers are waiting live on the telephone for answers.

EASY considers the results

We’re certain of one thing: there are various factors influencing electronic information searches, among which time seems to be the most important. Especially in view of steadily growing data volumes, sophisticated search engines and systems are becoming ever more important. Requesting information from and integrating diverse sources in a search system can also be useful in this context. We need a modern understanding of search processes and of the organization of knowledge. This means we need to look past the ends of our noses now and then and think about standards. EASY SOFTWARE is already thinking – and developing new ideas. The EASY information system uses new perspectives, and doesn’t focus on the search itself anymore, but rather on finding the right information in the current context.

References on this topic:

  • Maxwell & L. Azzopardi: Stuck in Traffic: How Temporal Delays Affect Search Behavior.
    Proceedings of the 5th Information Interaction in Context Symposium 2014, Seite 155-164.
    doi: 10.1145/2637002.2637021
  • Brutlag: Speed matters for Google web search.
    services.google.com/fh/files/blogs/google_delayexp.pdf
  • Pirolli & S. Card: Information foraging
    Psychological Review, Ausgabe 106(4), Seite 643 ff.
  • J. Taylor, A. R. Dennis & J. W. Cummings: Situation normality and the shape of search: The effects of time delays and information presentation on search behaviour.
    Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Ausgabe 64(5), Seite 909-928
  • Teevans, K. Collin-Thompson, R. W. White, S. T. Dumais & Y. Kim: Slow Search: Information Retrieval without time constraints.
    Proceedings of the Symposium on Human-Computer Interaction and Information Retrieval 2013, Seite 1-10
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