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Sex in politics

The visual design of the navigation in Salon implies that sex is a sub-category of politics. Perhaps it was designed in the good old days when American presidents proved their manhood in other ways than bombing infidels -- which seems to be all the rage these days.

Year-end wrap-up

Must be that time of year, since two usability-related year-in-review pieces came out yesterday:

Both are actually fairly level-headed and practical. Most of these things should be common knowledge for most IAs, but it's nice to see them summarized (and, in Nielsen's case, illustrated). HFI also has footnotes to all the relevant research, which is very useful for those ubiquitous “I'm looking for research that supports my opinion that ...” questions.

New WAI reccomendation

The W3C have made the user agents accesability guidelines into a reccomendation. What this means in practice is that most browsers and other programs designed to access web content will be required to meet the reccomendations in order to conform with local accesability laws. This will almost certainly apply in the EU and US. Hopefully this will force more use of WAI standards, allowing content providers to use newer standards with confidence.

BC Vickery up for grabs

I Found a facsimile of Brian Campbell Vickery's Faceted Classification Schemes on Alibris. It would be truly excellent if someone could get the Vickery books (or excerpts of them) to be repro'd at a place that delivers. I just ordered a loan of this one from my corporate library.

Faceted search

This page on Search Tools attempts to summarize how facets might be used in search.

Diving more deeply into facets

How do you say faceted classification in Italiano? Classificazione/indicizzazione a faccette. One of the small facts I've culled out of the faceted classfication list.

Discussion is heating up a little and Kathry La Barre is dropping science on us. The great advantage in having PhDs and doctoral students discussing on the list is that a thorough understanding of the facet analysis and classification literature can inform practice. Already there is a great need to really define and understand what facet analysis is, what facet classification is, how they are done, etc. This is one case where I think it is necessary to be pedantic because I fear that misunderstanding of the terms may result in incompletely executed implementations that call themselves faceted classification systems. Before we start to throw these terms around liberally in meetings with decision makers, we should be sure we know what we are talking about and be able to answer the most basic as well as the more difficult questions about what facet analysis and classification is and how it will positively effect the user experience.

As someone who thought himself to have a very fundamental understanding of these concepts, the discussion of facet analysis and classification in the past year has done more to confuse these concepts than to clarify them in my opinion, and for that reason, I am glad that this new list was created. There seems to be a great desire to get the outcome of facet analysis -- the browsable faceted interface like Flamenco, but there hasn't been a lot of discussion about how the method of facet analysis takes place. The terms have not even been defined clearly enough in my opinion. I have heard them defined and discussed well in presentations, but we need the terms and the methodologies to approach facet analysis better summarized in accessible articles that can help practicing IAs.

More granular syndication

If you want to syndicate this site content using any of the indexing terms used here -- e.g. by user, subject, format, person -- you can view your options on the improved syndication page.

3 navigation articles on Digital Web
Library terms that users understand

John Kupersmith is attempting to devise an ideal set of terms/labels for library resources and services.

    The purpose of this site is to help library web developers decide how to label key resources and services in such a way that most users can understand them well enough to make productive choices. It serves as a clearinghouse of usability test data evaluating terminology used on library web sites, listing terms that tests show are effective or ineffective labels. It presents alternatives by documenting terms that are actually used by libraries. It also suggests "best practices" for reducing cognitive barriers caused by terminology.
A different browsable subject list

Moshe has come up with an alternative way to browse iaslash subject lists. On the regular index, you are presented with an expanded hierarchical listing of index terms under the subject, people, format facets. In the new dhtml list you view the subject list with expandable/collapsible menus that show titles (hits) intermixed with the subcategories. If anything, this will help me troll through previous entries and fix the index terms applied. It is not perfect. I am not sure, for instance how the titles are sorted, it is not alphanumeric. I am still trying to convince someone to fix the taxonomy_html module to display like facetmap and I am hoping to try to get that module to display a-z indexes as well. If only I had more time to learn to do this myself.

What Is A Controlled Vocabulary?

Karl Fast, Fred Leise and Mike Steckel in Boxes and Arrows.

    Finding the right words to communicate the message of your website can be one of the most difficult parts of developing it. Our authors guide you through the concepts behind a well-designed controlled vocabulary and discuss the pros and cons of its development.
Professionalism and respect

Excuse this rant...

Do you think I am preachy? I posted a comment on Lou's blog (towards the end) about the use of ridicule in communication and how I feel that it runs counter to collegiality. The thread had long gotten off the topic of analyzing usage data and some generalizations had been made about IAs that I didn't understand. The particular commenter employed ridicule to make his point and I argued that this profession would benefit from communication based on openness and respect rather than contempt and mockery. I don't think I've ever needed to remind myself of this basic concept, but it certainly felt good to say it aloud. Anyway, I don't think pointing fingers and mocking people openly in public is a good way to win the respect of the community you are conversing with. End rant.

W3C Release new XHTML working draft

The W3C has published a working draft for a new XHTML standard here. Following on from XHTML 1.1 expect it to be a strict standard with no formatting tags at all.

Heuristic evaluation OmniOutliner template

I don't normally do heuristic evaluations, but I volunteered to do one for Drupal's administration interface. I created a checklist of questions under Nielsen's heuristics and wanted to record my evaluations in a simple bullet list. The template is simply an OmniOutliner file that lists the 10 heuristics, with notes describing each (taken verbatim from Nielsen). I plan to insert bullet points for each of my evaluations under each rubric and export to RTF. At that point I will probably create a PowerPoint presentation or Word document from the RTF and then save as PDF.

Use it if it's helpful to you.

New mailing list for faceted classification

Peter Van Dijk (Poor But Happy) and Phil Murray (Knowledge Management Connection) are starting a discussion group on faceted classification.

Google WebQuotes

A new application in Google Labs:

    Google WebQuotes annotates the results of your Google search with comments from other websites. This offers a convenient way to get a third party's opinion about each of the returns for your search, providing you with more information about that site's credibility and reputation.
See for instance the search results for information architecture. Beneath each result is a list of sites that comment on a result page, showing a short excerpt of the comments.

Intranet Search vs. Internet Search

In December's CIO Magazine, Dick Stenmark, head of Internet and intranet search solutions at Volvo Information Technology, takes on intranet search:


The search engine industry and the research community alike often fail to acknowledge that intranets are not just downscaled versions of the Internet, but are instead a whole different environment in terms of both content and culture. We use the same technology to build both, but the contexts in which they operate are entirely different.

The article is fairly short but quite informative and definitely worth a read. Remember, kids, it's all about users + content + context...

Can you purchase wisdom?

Peterme's recounting of an experience with a customer who believed that they could extract wisdom from a software package and vendor is really interesting.

    Part of the reason they bought this software was for the "wisdom" the software was meant to have embedded within. That there was a "wisdom" in how the software presents work processes, and that the company ought to learn from that wisdom and adjust their work accordingly, taking advantage of this "wisdom."
I'm sure there are many CIO organizations out there who think the wisdom (that intangible next step beyond knowledge) can be extracted from a technology in order to inform their users' processes. But this backward approach won't help anyone. The technology has to match the process. That's why, as Peter mentions, software needs to be flexible enough to accomodate these processes. A good lesson learned for enterprise software vendors.

Nice UX cycle diagram in there too.

Steve Krug Interview

Tom pointed to the since1968 interview with Steve Krug.

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