jibbajabba's blog

Nancy A. Van House

Tanya pointed to Nancy A. Van House, someone whom I haven't read. Van House is a professor at UC Berkeley SIMS. Here's how she describes her work:

    My area of expertise is work practice-based design of digital libraries and information systems. This consists of assessing user needs by first understanding users' work, the role of information and information tools, artifacts, and representations in their work, and finally their information actions and intentions. With this understanding, and with the participation of users, information systems and digital libraries can be designed to more effectively support people's information activity.
I haven't been looking at library literature as much in the past few years, but for various reasons have recently taken a new interest in digital libraries and KM.

Judge: Disabilities Act doesn't cover Web

Mark , Christina and Adam are discussing this troubling US court ruling affecting accessibility of web sites. This article in news.com covers the ruling.

    A federal judge ruled Friday that Southwest Airlines does not have to revamp its Web site to make it more accessible to the blind.

    In the first case of its kind, U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz said the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies only to physical spaces, such as restaurants and movie theaters, and not to the Internet.

Apparently the ADA laws only apply to meatspace. It's a shame, because the Internet should make mobility more possible for people with disabilities, but far too often the barriers of legacy web design and poorly executed information architectures keep people from using the web efficiently. You'd think a large airline would want to make it easier for this population to buy tickets online.

    Gumson, who said he had a screen reader with a voice synthesizer on his computer, asked the judge to order Southwest to provide text that could serve as an alternative to the graphics on its site and to redesign the site's navigation bar to make it easier for him to understand.
Sounds like the fixes could be minor and relatively inexpensive. Better labelling and standards compliant markup might help in this instance. More companies should just work with users on these fixable problems. In the end the benefit will outweigh the cost of bad publicity. All it really takes is getting the right people in the discussion. No doubt lawyers and PR people were the main players, but what do they know about accessible design?

Review: Elements of User Experience

Jeff Lash reviews Jesse James Garrett's new book, "The Elements of User Experience" in Boxes and Arrows. The book can be ordered from Amazon through Jesse's book site.


I decided to start reading posts in my SIGIA-L folder today. Unfortunately I was greeted with the discussion surrounding usabilitymustdie.com. Suddenly I remembered why I let that folder grow to 3000+ messages so I could concentrate on work and personal projects.

The noise to signal on SIGIA can be astonishingly deafening and so many of the circular and sometimes damaging philosophical discussions reflect the immaturity of this field. As Whitney asks, " I wonder why we feel the need to be so angry at everyone we think is 'not us'", I start to wonder the same thing. I really don't care if what I do is called IA, LIS, ID or whatever to tell you the truth. I think Adam agrees. In truth, none of those labels defines what I do very well.

It gets easy to turn away from SIGIA when these discussions crop up. The navel gazing gets tiring. I'm in search of more interesting reading. I want to learn something new and valuable each week and have it inform the work I do. I want to see interesting stuff like Peter's xfml work or the interesting diagrams James creates.

Maybe I'm just having a bad day. It might help to change my SIGIA folder to threaded view, so I can make some wholesale deletions.

Happy Birthday

I just saw Victor's post on SIGIA-L wishing IA Wiki a happy birthday! Happy birthday to the wiki and thanks to Eric for creating this excellent resource and to everyone that keeps it rocking.

Search engine optomization consultants

Never heard that term before reading James Allison's Understanding the New Role of SEO Consultants in Traffick. Here's a badly written excerpt.

    [0]ne of the main focus of SEO techniques has been site content, and in this regard, the SEO consultant's role overlaps more and more with the "Information Architect". Just as many members of the SEO community come from an advertising and copywriting background, the IA community is populated by a large number of people with a background in Library and Information Sciences.
Activating my job searches again

Ugh. As much as I hate to do it, I'm activating my job searches on the monster and techies sites again. I can feel the heavy gray cloud of impending layoff doom hanging over my group's head. They don't even call them layoffs here -- they refer to them as forced management procedures (one gets FMP'd). Whatever the hell that means. For me it means that my wife and I had the serious talk about what our plan will be if and when I get selected. I've made it through 5 or more layoffs so far, but there's just no telling.

It's hard to concentrate on work. I should have gotten the kind of job that lets me work with my hands. Maybe this will be my oppotunity to pursue that career in arts and crafts. Don't you just love the new economy.

Rashmi Sinha: Persona Creation for Information Rich Sites

Christina pointed to Rashmi Sinha's weblog entry Creating personas for information-rich websites, in which Rashmi proposes a methodology for creating personas that utilizes statistical analysis of user needs and suggests that accuracy is in fact important to persona design. The sugggestion about accuracy is contrary to the tenet in Coopers Inmates... that precision is more important than accuracy. From Rashmi's article describing the methodology, this statement seems important to me,

    Personas for information-rich sites must incorporate input about ways in which people will use complex information domains.
The methodology:

    (a) Use survey techniques (also used in market segmentation). (b) Focus questions around user needs rather than what they simply like / dislike. (c) Identify constellations of needs rather than clusters of users. (d) Use this information as the kernel to build personas around
This was a great find for me. I'm currently working with user surveys and usage statistics to describe the use of a digital library (traditional library measurement). I'm also doing more traditional surveys of user needs to create design personas (design methodology). What I was hoping to do was to use the information-use data to inform the persona development. That way I can provide accurate descriptions of users through personas, which I know is not exactly the Cooper way. There's just a great deal of thrust in my organization to be sure that user behavior that is currently high volume (popular) is not dismissed in any redesign of our products and services. I'm sort of gravitating to Rashmi's model now because of something she mentions in this requiremenet of her methodology, which I agree with, and which should help in bolstering support for personas in my organization, should I use this methology:

    The method should help ground the personas in reality (common critique of personas is that they are based on the designer’s imagination).
Great concepts. I just wouldn't want to break out SPSS to do this, though. I hated statistics in grad school. I suppose identifying constellations of needs is simple enough, though.

KM Pings

David Gammel has come up with an excellent use of MT's trackback mechanism to track knowledge management resources. Individuals ping his KM Pings site under this URL:

Pings to that URL are tracked on the page and the site offers an XML feed of the last 20, 100, or 200 pings. Very nice. I'm going to start pinging that site with KM resources as well and am going to be aggregating the top 20 in the news feeds here. Might create some noisy feedback as we see stuff I ping get reflected back, but should be worth it for me anyway -- I rarely read people's sites anymore, I just read their feeds. If you don't exist in RDF/RSS I'm probably ignoring you.

Maybe we should implement something like that here for IA? IA Ping? Anyone using MT or Drupal that wants to try that out?.

All the Web Alchemist

This is really cool or maybe it's really scary. All the Web has a new feature called the Alchemist that will let you write your own CSS to layout their pages as long as their accessible from your browser. You just enter a URL for your CSS in a form and All the Web sets a cookie to remember where to access the CSS. You can also point to style sheets others have written and published on their site. There's even a contest for the best CSS -- you win Amazon gift certificates.

I can see All the Web doing this. They're not the most popular choice for a search engine, but they offer one of the nicest experiences in my opinion. Wonder if the idea will catch on anywhere else. I know the IA Wiki does this.

Practical Taxonomies: Stop Searching - Start Finding

My office mates, Dave Goessling and Raphael Lasar, are giving the presentation, "Creating and implementing an effective taxonomy" at ARK Group's taxonomy seminar at Le Parker Meridien in New York, NY on 18-20 November 2002. A PDF for the "Practical Taxonomies" seminar is available for the rest of the program from ARK's conferences page. Other speakers include Amy Warner and knowledge managers from various financial institutions, government agencies, and other large corporations.


Is it me, or does anyone else find it interesting that everyone's so interested in Ranganathan lately. Seen in the news aggregator in the last few weeks:

  • Ranganathan for IA's -- Facet analysis is the term that everyone's dying to use. But, the basic idea of facets can be groked in about 2 minutes.
  • Peter V pointed to Fred Liese's article, "Using Faceted Classification to Assist Indexing", which is one of the best introductions to facet analysis and its practical approach in indexing that I've seen next to Louise Spiteri's articles. Liese compares enumerative to facet-based classification, defines facets in simple terms and provides very practical tips for developing your facets and using them in indexing.
  • Prolegomena to Library Classification -- It's more interesting that people are reading this sort of material. I wasn't surprised to find that Peter was reading it. He appears to be making his way through a lot of classification literature. I wonder how people might apply what they learn from examining Ranganathan's ideas around colon classification. I think the general idea here has to do with the flexibility of classification using his system rather than using a rigid system like the Dewey Decimal system. Also I think the concepts behind his system can better be used for post-coordination of classes.
A Taxonomy Primer

I came across Amy Warner's article "A Taxonomy Primer" on her consulting site. Should be a helpful primer for people being introduced to the concepts associated with using thesauri.

Scent of a webpage

I found Jared Spool's 9/18/2002 presentation "Scent of a Web Page (PDF accesible only to NYC-CHI members)" to be very useful, even without the context of his speaking notes. There are some great suggestions about how to layout and describe page objects to ensure good scent. Also some interesting conclusions that good layout and good scent support findability better than pogosticking and search.

Lazyweb idea: Yahoo! Groups as RSS

I'm procrastinating because I'm supposed to be preparing a Power Point presentation.

Here's an idea -- call it my lazyweb idea 2, idea 1 was for a blogdex of IA blogs -- why doesn't Yahoo! produce RSS feeds for their Yahoo! Groups? That way I could aggregate new feeds from certain groups without having to get emails from them. It's not a killer, but I live off of my news aggregator and I'm starting to hate email lately.

You know, come to think of it, I know it's possible to set up an email address that Radio Userland can use for posting to a Radio blog. Maybe there's even such a method on Drupal. Maybe I'll try that one day. That way I can put all of my email list mail into a news aggregator rather than have to go to my mail client to read it. Hmmm. Anyone do anything like this yet?

3d music ZUI

Braunarts' 3d music (requires Shockwave plugin) is an interteractive performance that blends music and a zoomable interface to create a 3 dimensional environment in which people explore the musical compositions. Interesting, but somehow, I feel uncomfortable in 3d or ZUI web environments like this. It's funny, because I used to play video games that rendered space in 2d and 3d and felt comfortable enough in those spaces, knowing that there was a goal to arrive at -- destroying the Death Star or getting around that pylon to shoot a tank down -- but exploring 3d spaces with ZUI's on the web just seems so slow and boring to me. Somehow something gets lost for me in the translation of the experience from the gaming world.


Catalogablog is David Bigwood's weblog. I presume he's a cataloger since he's talking about MARC fields. He's also discusses metadata more generally for you non LIS types.

Alertbox: Making Flash Usable for Users With Disabilities

NN/G report summary on making Flash usable with MX.

    Flash designs are easier for users with disabilities to use when designers combine visual and textual presentations, minimize incessant movement, decrease spacing between related objects, and simplify features.
Story telling in web design

Victor and Joshua are both talking about story telling as a method for communicating possible actions or paths when interacting with web sites. Victor mentioned an IBM seminar he attended about story telling. Haven't done much reading in this area and would cetainly like to learn more if I can find the most salient literature. I did find Curt Cloninger's A List Apart article, a Case for Story Telling to be interesting as well. Cloninger makes the case for considering the narrative possibilities when designing for the web as a communications medium. He's right, web sites are often not just databases and the design should consider aspects of human experiences with sites not merely as transactional database interactions as such. I like Victor's process of mapping actions or attributes of the narrative to interactions with the site. Interesting. More obvious I guess is the development of the characters, plot, setting, etc. and flowing that into elements of design process -- personas/characters, scenarios.

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