FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, May 30, 2005

Are Researchers Relying Less on the Web?

Librarians, subject matter experts and professional research intermediaries who thought they might be made obsolete by the Web should be reassured by a new survey suggesting that netizens are relying on the open Web less for research. According to the survey conducted by Outsell, a firm that serves the information industry:

[P]eople who use the Internet in their jobs are starting to tire of going directly to the open Web. Just 67 percent say they go to the open Web for the information they need for the job, compared to 79 percent in 2001. They are increasingly more likely to rely on corporate intranets, colleagues, libraries, and other intermediaries.

The survey also found that users spend more time searching for information since 2001 (11 hours vs. 8 hours per week), and now spend the majority of their time (53%) searching for information as opposed to analyzing and applying it.

Granted, Outsell has a vested interest in promoting the services of professional researchers. However, they may well be on to something here. As more information becomes available on the Web, the harder it becomes to use general purpose search engines to locate specific, relevant information. Also, information workers are increasingly pressed for time, and are rediscovering tools that help them narrow their searches quickly, such as specialized databases, portals, and good old fashioned human librarians. The survey also points to potential business opportunities for researchers willing and able to help their clients locate valid information quickly.