jibbajabba's blog

Knowledge representation starters

Someone inquired about indexing resources on SIGIA. Here is my annotated list of pointers to get anyone started in this area of information work. Suggest any other good reading in this area as it applies to Web siets. -Michael Books and papers on knowledge representation

  • Explorations in Indexing & Abstracting: Pointing, Virtue & Power. Brian O'Connor Abstract: Draws on intellectual resources from information theory to MTV to discuss challenges to the indexing and abstracting field posed by the information and technology explosion, and presents alternatives for abstracting and indexing information so that users can actually find it. Looks at the shortcomings of traditional systems, and uses exercises and case studies to demonstrate the elements of a patron- specific system. -- This is an short, but excellent book discussing the intellectual work of representing knowledge, the core activitiy in indexing for information retrieval.
  • Guidelines for Indexes and Related Information Retrieval Devices (NISO TR-02-1997). James D. Anderson Abstract: This new NISO Technical Report provides expert guidance on designing indexes for every kind of document. Coverage includes automatic indexing and indexing based on intellectual analysis and the use of controlled vocabularies. A comprehensive glossary of indexing terms is provided and recommended introductory text for print and back-of-the-book indexes, database indexes, computer produced indexes, and electronic search indexes are given. -- The PDF is available for download. Jim is also working on a book at present on the topic of knowledge representation. I used a draft of his forthcoming book to prepare a paper on indexing art images. The NISO report and the JASIST article below were precursors to the forthcoming book.
  • Journal of the American Society for Information Science, Vol. 45 Number 8 1994. -- Special issue on indexing. Also search through JASIS for indexing articles in the journal and in conference proceedings if you have access on the ASIS site. Or go to your University Library to search journals.
  • Most articles by Brian O'Connor, Jim Anderson, James Turner and Dagobert Soergel are relevant. Also, a great selection of books available from NISO (search for "indexing").
Related white papers on knowledge representation and the Web
Interaction Architect

Sim D'Hertefelt's Interaction Architect promotes designing useful and usable interactive systems. Some useful stuff in the articles section including "The Skeptical Internet User Does Not Search".

Information, complexity and computer science

An interesting article appeared on NY Times today about information and computer science. The article questions whether or not computer science has become the metaphor for grasping and comprehending knowledge. A bunch of CS folks got together to discuss whether this is true or not. The article corectly concludes, that indeed, computer science today cannot successfully interpret the complexity of our world's knowledge. In some fields of knowledge (especially physical science) it may be possible to extract some meaning by reducing data to consistent patterns (such as is being attempted with with the human genome). But a problem lies in the fundamental concept that all messages are processable and can be understood universally by a computer. The computer scientists participating in the discussion mentioned in the article hoped to arrive at a "'unified language' in which to talk about physics, biology, neuroscience and other realms of thought." What they found instead was that it is difficult to even define the terms that describe that with which they work. The problem of representing knowledge is the crux of knowledge representation work (indexing, ontological creation). The world's messages do not consistently mean the same thing to all people at different times. In fact, the same message might mean something different to the same person at different times. The fundamental problem with the computer science approach to information is that they view the raw data as the message. The term information comes from the latin "in forma", meaning the shape within. Information implies meaning -- knowledge that is the result of some study or analysis. Extracting the meaning of messages does not produce foolproof and universal results with today's computer science applications. At least not yet. As an example, could a computer science algorithm consistently and universally produce the same results that a human does when looking at a Rorschach inblot test and describe some message? To think that one can create an algorithm that can is the height of hubris. Maybe some day the results of human and computer message extraction will get closer to each other, but today, the knowledge representation and comprehension is very slippery territory, which is why many IAs recommend, when organizing and representing information on large Web projects, a combination of automated and human methods. From the article, "Time of Growing Pains for Information Age": This is the information age, in which, we are told, biology is defined by a three-billion- letter instruction manual called the genome and human thoughts are analogous to digital bits flowing through a computer. Jaron Lanier is the lead scientist of the National Tele-Immersion Initiative. He and six other scientists were sitting under a maple tree one recent afternoon worrying whether this headiness was justified. They found instead that they could not even agree on useful definitions of their field's most common terms, like "information" and "complexity," let alone the meaning and future of this revolution. ... Scientifically, the information age can be said to have begun in 1948 when Dr. Claude E. Shannon, a researcher at Bell Laboratories, proposed that information could be defined as the number of ones and zeros bits that it took to encode a message in binary language. ... The assembled scientists, however, argued that Dr. Shannon's definition of information, based on counting bits, did not give a meaningful result in every situation. For example, if you have two copies of a book, you have twice as many bits and thus twice as much information, but you are not necessarily better informed.

The usability of usability articles (FTSE Awards)

Sorry for mucking about, moving offices is more fun that I thought it would be. The new (and final) url for the FTSE 100 Usability Awards is http://www.othermedia.com/tomsmith/ftseawards/. cheers, tom originally posted 3 August

Messaging vendors rally around SIMPLE protocol

According to Newfusion, An emerging communications protocol called SIMPLE is the front-runner to become the standard method for sharing online presence information and instant messages across the Internet, thanks to backing from market leaders AOL Time Warner and Microsoft. ... Having the marketplace agree on the telephony-oriented SIMPLE protocol will encourage corporate use of instant messaging, supporters say. Industry use of instant messaging has been hampered by interoperability issues.

NewsEdge white paper on taxonomies

NewsEdge Corporation has released a white paper discussing their use of taxonomies and categorization systems for news and business information. There is some high level discussion of taxonomies and their use in classifying business information. And of course the white paper discusses NewsEdge's use of a system for tagging subjects in news stories. The PDF is available for download: Taxonomies: The Value of Organized Business Knowledge (165K PDF).

M-commerce slower than expected

This comes as no surprise. Communications News reports that while m-commerce vendors remain upbeat that phenomenal growth for the sector is just around the corner, industry analysts caution that the corner may be a little farther down the road. Studies over the last several years predicted a booming market for m-commerce. In December 1999, Strategy Analysts predicted that m-commerce would grow to $200 billion worldwide by 2004, while IDC's forecast for the same year saw U.S. m-commerce users growing to 29 million. ... Recent studies, however, look for slower-than-expected m-commerce growth.

Half Of Hispanic Adults Use Internet

About half of adult Hispanics in the U.S. have used the Internet at one time or another, and 61 percent say they go online on any given day, a Net use study found. ... About 11 million Hispanics had Internet access in February, up 25 percent from March 2000, according to a new Pew Internet and American Life Project report.

British children prefer Internet surfing to watching TV

A recent survey of UK families by the Family Assurance Group has revealed that surfing the Internet is now seven times more popular among British children than watching television. ... The survey also showed that some young Internet users spend up to 70 hours per week online. In addition very few families seem to use the Internet together, especially since a large number of children now have computers in their bedrooms. In comparison over a third of families, or 38%, watch television together.

New Yahoo! Group: intranet-user-experience

Jeff Lash announced this new group: intranet-user-experience: This is a list dedicated to disucssion on developing and maintaining Intranets, with an emphasis on elements of user experience design (information architecture, usability, navigation design, information design, etc.). Discussion can include links, articles, research, studies, white papers, presentations, opinions, anecdotes, or anything that can be beneficial to those developing Intranet user experiences.

Personalization's second wave

Online Journalism Review is saying that personalized content is still valuable. At least that's what the content providers believe. Today, we're glimpsing the next stage of Net news. Stage one consisted of building elaborate, if unwieldy, news portals to attract a mass audience. This new stage involves forging deeper customer relationships with users to build customer intimacy, spurring more frequent visits and, eventually, enticing people to open their wallets. Interactivity, practical business services, networked applications, streamlined navigation and personalized content are all part of the mix.

More on watching what users do rather listening to what they say

This appears to be a recurring theme in Usability articles. To design an easy-to-use interface, pay attention to what users do, not what they say. Self-reported claims are unreliable, as are user speculations about future behavior.

Mobile bloggin'

Handx lets you blog from your Palm OS PDA. Makes sense if you are a writer, but not if you mainly log links to other sites.

Journal of Digital Information

Infodesign led me to the Journal of Digital Information (JoDI -- not to be confused with jodi), which is is supported by the British Computer Society and Oxford University Press. In the current issue 1 (8), Knowledge Organization Systems are the focus. If you are interested in knowledge representation issues (e.g. indexing, controlled vocabularies, and ontology creation) or information organization and retrieval be sure to look at Semantic problems of thesaurus mapping and Augmenting thesaurus relationships.

The Art of Information Architecture

Information Architecture is the practice of designing the infrastructure of a Web site, specifically the navigation. This short article in iBoost discusses (somewhat simplistically) SOME steps involved in IA work.

The FTSE 100 Usability Awards

Whilst gathering data for a survey that looked at the web sites of UK FTSE 100 companies, I found a surprising number of broken sites, "Page Not Found" errors and even a few "Under Construction" pages. We all know that creating large web sites can be a challenge and that it's easier to complain about a site than offering constructive criticism, but sometimes you've just got to get it off your chest haven't you?


Came across netymology via linkdup. Hate the logo -- reminds too much of Sapient. Love the luxurious look of that bevelled nav bar though. Reminds me of frogdesign or the original Studio Archetype design. Navigation is nice too. 1st and 2nd levels of navigation show stacked in that nav bar and secondary nav for each 2nd level shows in the left of the page. The overview pages (1st level of hieararchy) show overview of 2nd and 3rd levels in table of contents format. Overall, a polished and usable experience in my opinion.

Organic Information Design

Benjamin Fry's Master's Thesis (8.6M PDF download) in the Master of Science in Media Arts and Sciences at MIT. Other projects by Fry at his MIT home page. Thesis abstract: Design techniques for static information are well understood, their descriptions and discourse thorough and well-evolved. But these techniques fail when dynamic information is considered. There is a space of highly complex systems for which we lack deep understanding because few techniques exist for visualization of data whose structure and content are continually changing. To approach these problems, this thesis introduces a visualization process titled Organic Information Design. The resulting systems employ simulated organic properties in an interactive, visually refined environment to glean qualitative facts from large bodies of quantitative data generated by dynamic information sources.

Guidelines For Improving Content Usability For The Web

Ganeman Russell offers some guidelines for preparing content for the Web. Good writing in any medium requires understanding your audience as well as the environment you are working in. Even though the Web is new, it is by no means different. Yet the Web by nature does have certain characteristics that are different than print media. Thanks Lucdesk

Lawyers are destroying the usability of American products

Tog talks about the irritating legal notices/disclaimers that get in the way of actually using products. Lawyers are threatening to bring life to a permanent standstill. They are bogging down automotive and aviation GPS units with the same unread verbiage and OK buttons with which they have attacked software. Car drivers are required, for example, to agree that the GPS could be distracting while the vehicle is moving. They form this agreement by pressing an undersized button before the moving map will display. Trying to hit this button in a moving vehicle is a far more dangerous task than glancing at a moving map.

XML feed