Online Search Engine Ignites Creativity By Crowdsourcing Associative Thinking

Online Search Engine Ignites Creativity By Crowdsourcing Associative Thinking

Can a search engine also become a platform for creative thought?

Rachel Pincus
  • 18 july 2014

With numerous commentators worrying about the Google-ification of the human mind and the sense among typical users that Google’s auto-complete is a wormhole of amusement and distraction, it takes a breath of fresh air sometimes to remember that Google searches needn’t determine our intellectual or creative fate. Seenapse, created by Mexican entrepreneur Rafael Jiménez, is a different type of search engine, aimed squarely at creatives: instead of having to continuously tweak your Google or Bing searches until you find the precise subset of search results that you want, it presents you with a crowdsourced variety of additional search terms related to your first ones, allowing you to not only narrow down your search but also find new and unexpected directions for your curiosity.

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Seenapse differs from most search-suggesting systems and forms of improvisation in that it allows you to visualize your questions as a (non)linear journey. Each page for a concept is headed off by the name of the last concept you visited. For example, if you start at the page for Seenapse itself and move on to one of the suggested concepts on the right, “Better Brainstorming,” the header of that page will say “Seenapse & Better Brainstorming” in the header and also include a link back to the Seenapse page on your left.

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Unlike with conventional search engines, for which link placement is the meat and potatoes, Seenapse seems to want you to spend time on the search engine itself, with external links merely blending into the overall visual presentation. Instead of relying only on SEO and the placement of specific words, users connect websites to particular concepts organically. When Seenapse does do conventional word matching, it can also come up, and foreground, some unusual results. “When searching, you’ll get two types of results,” the site explains. “Exact, meaning that the seenapse’s title has those words; or approximate, for those seenapse that match what you looked for in their descriptions.”

seenapse structure.png

Seenapse crowdsources information in that it recruits users to draw connections between certain topics and write descriptions of the connections that come in between. And of course, idiosyncrasies can arise from that. Among those are concepts inserted by users whose links may be about a much broader, or narrower, subject than the titles indicate. Images and videos are all jumbled together, and sometimes a brilliant concept has only an image culled from somewhere on the web to back it up. That’s where creatives come in: to fill in those yawning gaps. Indeed, Seenapse not only draws attention to the abundance of the internet, but also what’s still missing.


[h/t] introduction video


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