A little while ago I posted an article called Findability is just So Last Year, in which I argued that the current focus (dare I say fixation) of the search community on findability was somewhat limiting, and that in my experience (of enterprise search, at least), there are a great many other types of information-seeking behaviour that aren’t adequately accommodated by the ‘search as findability’ model. I’m talking here about things like analysis, sensemaking, and other problem-solving oriented behaviours.
Now, I’m not the first person to have made this observation (and I doubt I’ll be the last), but it occurs to me that one of the reasons the debate exists in the first place is that the community lacks a shared vocabulary for defining these concepts, and when we each talk about “search tasks” we may actually be referring to quite different things. So to clarify how I see the landscape, I’ve put together the short piece below. More importantly, I’ve tried to connect the conceptual (aka academic) material to current design practice, so that we can see what difference it might make if we had a shared perspective on these things. As always, comments & feedback welcome.