Flickr, the online photo-sharing app, has an answer to both questions: a new Flickr Feature called "Interestingness." Click on "explore" within "Interestingness" and you're presented with a series of photographs that defy easy categorization: some are conventionally beautiful, some are amusing, some are mysterious. The common thread, according to Flickr, is their "interestingness":
There are lots of things that make a photo 'interesting' (or not) in the [sic] Flickr. Where the clickthroughs are coming from; who comments on it and when; who marks it as a favorite; its tags and many more things which are constantly changing. Interestingness changes over time, as more and more fantastic photos and stories are added to Flickr.
Tim O'Reilly at O'Reilly Radar sees beyond Flickr and regards "interestingness" as the next challenge for all web search.
Google made a breakthrough in web search with its original idea of links as citations (i.e. PageRank), and they are still the undisputed leader in general web search, but they haven't done as well in searching rich media. I think they have some things to learn from Flickr. More specifically, web search innovators all need to think through what makes results "interesting" for a given domain. I like what flickr has done in calling out "interestingness" as a quality worth searching for, and leaving it as a playground for exploration.
My question of the day: What is "interestingness" in written communications? Content or context? Simplicity or complexity? Wit or wisdom? How much "interestingness" does this post have for you?