Have you ever felt that navigating the web is like living life around town with blinders on?   I spend a great deal of time navigating the net doing research, reading, and shopping – and even with the exhaustive searching performed I continue to get “surprised” with new sites and information which I have never seen before.  It can feel like you are working with very narrow tunnel vision.

This got me thinking how in the physical world an important way we learn is simply through awareness of our surroundings.   We go to the video store and see a new restaurant opened in the plaza, we are driving to work and see a new electronics store from the highway, you go to lunch and see/smell something new a friend is eating…   We pick up a lot about secondary topics while pursuing a possibly unrelated primary topic.  

How can browsers or tools evolve to take on this behavior pattern?

Browsers evolved originally as tools for delivering page oriented information – think newspapers, magazines, etc – and have now become capable of supporting dynamic information and controls thereby supporting rich applications.  In the physical world these activities (reading a news paper, using an application) do not replace the physical.   But as the internet grows, one can spend more and more time on it and less time out and about in the physical world.   Folks do their work, shopping, reading, books, ordering food, etc – all from the internet and often from home.  

Should browsers provide more of a “3rd Dimension” of information by providing knowledge of our “surroundings” based on the browsers knowledge of the user and what the user is doing?

We are starting to see initial concepts here with tools such as tags, blogs, rating, twitter – but these rely on others.   Instead it would be great if my window on the web were able to tell me about an information source which was new to me.