John S. Rhode’s Webword site has just published an interesting three-part series on the Psychology of Search. It may be found, with sample extracts, at:
You don't care much about the technology of search. You care about results. Search is an indication of failure, not success. If you had the answers, you wouldn't need to search.
Search is a conversation, a contract and perhaps a negotiation between two parties (man or machine). Search engines technically represent a set of basic human activities, such as information seeking, discovery, and problem solving.
The summary is that search is dominated by the human memory framework of recognition. Search engines work these days because they capitalize on our pattern matching skills and recognition abilities, no doubt about it.
There are many worthwhile observations in this series including users don’t care about the technology of search, just results; search itself represents a "failure" because the information is not known or remembered; and the search process is fundamentally about pattern matching. User comments also point to some additional fascinating reading. For these reasons, the series is well worth reading.
However, there is actually quite little in this series about the psychology of search. There is also little about the distinctiion I have written about elsewhere about the difference between casual search for facts and purposeful, directed search (or harvesting) for KM and decision-making purposes. For the latter, see my piece, Why is Standard Search Alone Inadequate to Meet Real Business Needs?