Wayfinding Online

In looking at how people interact and “move” in the online world, there are infinitely many places to look for examples to evaluate.

First off, a user’s browsing patterns are clearly and intimately visible on the page of any active del.icio.us account. Not only is a viewer given a clear idea of the user’s personal interests, one can infer how a user moves between noteworthy sites through both time and cyberspace.

Taking a more social look at online browsing patterns beyond bookmarking, we can note the shift from a static web to what is now known as Web 2.0, where users become active participants at almost every website. This has possibly brought the shift from us following links in static web pages while keeping a definite goal in mind (just as we follow “see also” citations in encyclopedias), to an extremely transient movement pattern by way of links in blog posts, blogrolls, and randomized searches. Furthermore, sites like Digg and Technorati make evident the temporal popularity of ideas, as people discover, visit, and discuss interesting news and websites in a simultaneous and collective fashion.

This brings about yet another question: how has the dramatic shift from static to dynamic online content affected wayfinding patterns on the Internet?