Putting aside the physical niceties of brick and mortar information repositories, one thing the Internet has yet to reproduce is the ability to easily and pleasantly browse its vast reaches. Browsing is a crucial component of information discovery; it allows an information seeker to expand organically upon an initial vague, often unarticulated need.
Imagine head to the stacks at your local library to browse through the cookbooks. As your eye traverses the shelves, you spot a book on kimchi. This book is exactly what you wanted to read, even if you couldn’t have initially articulated that desire.
Experiences like these sit at the heart of browsing — aimless navigation by subject or genre that brings you to something unexpected, yet ultimately rewarding. Browsing is a common manner of information resource discovery. However, the practice is not well-supported by the search-based or social methods of information discovery that dominate the web today.
Full piece at Mashable.