People don’t know how to search

So I’ve had an idea.. initially I began this research with the intention to enter my idea into The Scottish Social Innovation Camp – I decided not to as Sarah was a judge and I wanted to spend the weekend sharing my learnings from MyPolice rather than push my own idea out there. At the same time there was an exciting event going on in London called Interactivism, I offered my visualisation skills from afar and was really excited when I heard some of the winning ideas – particularly Jemima’s idea around creating a browser to enable you to see your most visited and favourite sites with clear visuals.

The real reason people don’t go online is they don’t know how to search. My idea is called Step On. It is the interface between the blank canvas of a search engine and your everyday life.

This service is aimed at people who know about the internet and are fairly competent on computers but say ‘What would I use it for?’ and ‘I don’t know what to search’. I meet so many people ( of all ages ) who think the internet is only for booking holidays and playing games.

I envision this service would be PRE GOOGLE – it would answer questions to determine a range of internet media – videos / audio / visual  / sites / forums related to your ‘interests’ so if you told it you were interested in knitting it would show you all the sites / videos / patterns.

The problem is that when you search google ( until recently ) all the blue links look the same – it’s difficult to tell these are all made up of podcasts, tv programs, articles, films and pictures etc.

Step On shows you how and why the internet is relevant to you. I believe the reason alot of people aren’t online is not because they don’t know how – they just don’t see how it fits into their lives – they don’t know you can watch tv  / listen to music / make new friends / trace family tree/ watch music videos from their childhood etc…. You can’t choose to engage with something if you don’t even know it exists!

“While the battle for digital access is being won, we now face a struggle to convince everyone the net is worth using,” said Professor Richard Rose, of the Oxford Internet Institute.

People give up quickly on search engines – because they don’t know what’s available they don’t know what to look for and so they never understand what the web can do for them. We need a filter because Google is too blank and it’s overwhelming. I think that Google hasn’t yet fully succeeded because of the vast size of their database. Who needs 2 billion matches for Britains Got Talent? Google works brilliantly because the design is so simple and because the sophisticated users discover stuff they like and then people who search for “Web” believe that they’ve got the best answers.

I think we need help. We need Step On – it will ask clarifying questions after you’ve done a bad search. It is an interface for accessible computing that gives the impressions this is not about computers it’s about people and their lives. It makes the web  more accessible by tailoring the results and options to fit in with your life and your interests.

“64 percent of people say they don’t go online because the web’s just “not for them”, says Martha Lane-Fox 

I’m looking forward to connecting with Jemima and sharing my vision for Step On and hopefully playing a small part in creating something extraordinary!

What do you think ? Talk to me…