Pew: Take One Search Stress Reliever, Call Me In The Morning

The search box will disappear in 2017, replaced by algorithms that can identify the type of information people need. The transformation has begun through spoken queries, especially in mobile and smart-home settings, Susan Dumais, distinguished scientist and deputy managing director Redmond, Washington, Microsoft Research Lab, wrote in the "17 for '17: Microsoft researchers on what to expect in 2017 and 2027."

Deep-learning models will continue to improve the quality of Web search results in 2017, and will lead to more general improvements in the ability for machines to understand queries and return results. This trend will accelerate with the ability to issue queries consisting of sound, images or video, and with the use of context to proactively retrieve information related to the current location, content, entities or activities without explicit queries, she writes.

Dumais' notion of eliminating the search box and relying on algorithms and deep learning to automatically pull in information and serve it up when needed buys into the notion the Pew Research Center presents in its latest report about information overload. 

Will the next phase of search reduce the stress of keeping track of too much information? A study released Wednesday looks at how people deal with the volume of information they track. The findings show that people, for the most part, view information as something that helps them manage their lives and are confident in their abilities to determine the trustworthiness of information. In fact, 61% feel confident in their ability to use the Internet and other communications devices to keep up with information demands in their life. About 20% said they can manage "somewhat well;" 6%, "not too well;" and 12, "not well at all."

The Pew Research Center survey finds that while 77% say they like having so much information at their fingertips, 67% say that having more information at their disposals actually helps to simplify their lives.

The survey does not directly delve into search, but I draw the conclusion from the findings that automating search, although many might not like the idea of machines having so much access to personal information, could relieve some of the stress people have keeping informed.  

The results suggest that people with fewer pathways to the Internet are more likely to express concerns about information overload and to report difficulty in finding information they need. The findings highlights three kinds of access pathways: home broadband, smartphone and tablet computer ownership, as a way to characterize people with an abundance of access points to those with two, one or fewer.

Of course, those with more gadgets and access to the Internet and search engines have less stress. You can find the study here.

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