This is from a while ago, but it’s a nice article on information foraging
“Cognitive psychologists have found that people search for information online in much the same way that animals hunt for food. Now those researchers are extending their theory to Twitter, Wikipedia and the rest of Web 2.0.”
“Pirolli’s insight was to realize that people’s information landscape is, like the natural world, a patchy place. Modern humans are “informavores”—we gobble up information the way animals gobble up food. On the Internet, some websites are rich with the information morsels that we’re seeking, and others are not. So models like those that predict when a bird will move to new hunting grounds can also predict when a person sitting at his or her computer will give up on one Web page and move to another.
Key to those models is Pirolli’s concept of “information scent.” Animals follow a physical scent to look for food. Humans, similarly, follow an online scent trail that is made up of key words, images and other cues. When those words and images are closely related to the information we’re seeking, the scent is strong and we continue on that path. More distantly related words indicate we’re on less fruitful foraging ground.”