Gord Hotchkiss

Gord Hotchkiss

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Human Hardware: The Paradox Of Choice

In the last few years, there have been two best selling books published that seem diametrically and philosophically opposed: The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz and The Long Tail by Chris Anderson. Both explore the explosion of choice that we have in our modern world and how we might be equipped to navigate through […]

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Human Hardware: Risk vs Reward, Expressed Through Search

We are emotional creatures. In fact, we are the most emotional creatures on the planet. Emotions are what cause us to act. The very word emotion means “to move” in Latin. Emotions move us to action. They cause us to avoid danger and pursue pleasure. They propel us to genetic propagation and steer us from […]

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Human Hardware: The Subconscious Side of Search

In the last column, we explored some studies that indicate that conscious will might not be the cause of our actions, but instead might be just one of the effects of a motivator still undefined. Conscious will could simply be a feedback mechanism that helps us keep track of our actions and hides the degree […]

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Human Hardware: The Illusion Of Conscious Searching

You know what you’re doing, right? We are all rational beings. We are all blessed with huge neocortexes and use them on a regular basis. This is especially so when we do something as thoughtful as use a search engine. Our rational loop is kicked into high gear. Right?

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Human Hardware: You’re Looking, But Are You Seeing?

So far in the Human Hardware series, we’ve dealt with working memory (a just released study confirms the limitations of this. See my note at the end of this column), differences between sexes, and Dunbar’s number (Parts One and Two). Today, I want to explore how we can look right at something and not see […]

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Human Hardware: How Many Friends Can We Have Online?

In the last column, I introduced British evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar’s theory that we have cognitive limits to the number of social relationships we can maintain, and the importance of social grooming in all primates, including humans. Just as a quick recap, based on the relative size of our neocortex, Dunbar calculated that the upper […]

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Human Hardware: Dunbar’s Number

Few things about the internet generate as much buzz as social networking. Suddenly, it looks like the very fabric of our society might be rewoven online. The world becomes our community as we erase geographic boundaries to connect based on shared interests and ideals. Whether your community of choice is Facebook, MySpace, Second Life, or […]

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Human Hardware: Men And Women

In this week’s column on Human Hardware, we look at the differences between the two basic models of humans: men and women. As a species, the vast majority of our history has been spent not really thinking about the differences between men and women. The distinctions seemed obvious, and while survival was the main objective, […]

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Human Hardware: Working Memory

At the recent SMX show in Santa Clara I had the opportunity to present at a couple of sessions that explored the topic of user behavior. One of the things I said in one of them is that humans are more alike than we’re different. Because of this, there are some behaviors that a determined […]

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Scanning Barriers On The Search Results Page

A few columns ago I talked about user behavior on the results page and compared it to a shopping mall. In recent eye tracking studies, we’ve seen that several factors can create barriers or “walls” in this mall that can keep traffic from ever finding your listing.

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The Virtual World: Darwin Says We Can Handle It

One of the things that has always struck me when I look at online user behavior is the scattered and frenetic scanning of the page. This becomes particularly clear when you look at eye tracking results. We quickly shift our eyes to cue to cue, picture to picture, headline to headline, link to link. We […]

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The Search Shopping Mall: Moving Up The Long Tail

Some time ago, I did a blog post called the “Other Long Tail of Search“. When Chris Anderson’s book came out, several smart search marketers realized that the long tail phenomenon applied to our industry as well. If you look at the keywords that drive traffic to your site and plot them according to traffic […]

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Taking On ARF, Engagement, Interruptive Advertising… And Whatever Else You’ve Got!

In 2005, The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), through their MI4 Initiative, decided to embark on the Quixotic quest of defining engagement. The impetus was finding a more appropriate and applicable metric that could stretch across the rapidly expanding number of channels that were exploding through digital delivery. So, the good folks at ARF assembled a […]

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Some Big Ideas for a Friday

I love big ideas. TED is the conference I most want to attend. I love talking about big ideas. In fact, as you read this, I’ll have the privilege of being one of the Canadians to be featured in Yahoo’s Big Idea Chair campaign (although the spending 30 minutes in make up, or “grooming” as […]

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How We Navigate Our Online Landscape

At Search Engine Strategies in San Jose this August, I had the good fortune of being able to share a panel with Nico Brooks from Atlas. I’ve always admired Nico as one of the more strategic thinkers in this space and feel a kindredship, both through our love of research and curiosity about user behavior. […]

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Eye Tracking On Universal And Personalized Search

In the past two columns, I’ve featured the interviews (Part 1, Part II) of where search might go in the next three years. The two themes consistently mentioned as the most important for the future have been personalization and blended search results. Being a user-centric type of person, my first question was, “how will that […]

Apple

Search In The Year 2010: Part Two

Several weeks ago (seemingly years) Just Behave featured Part One of the summarized interviews with my personal dream team of search usability: Jakob Nielsen, the Web’s best-known usability guru Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP of user experience and interface design Michael Ferguson, one of the architects of Ask’s unique user experience Larry Cornett, the VP of […]

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Search In The Year 2010

If I ever had to build a search engine, or more precisely, the interface of a search engine, this would be the team I would want to bring together. When I came up with the idea of looking forward three years and speculating on what the search results page may look like in 2010, these […]