jibbajabba's blog

Scott Berkun's best of CHIWEB and SIGIA-L

Scott's "best of" lists have been updated.

Doing a Content Inventory

Jeff Veen's latest in the Adaptive Path essays is Doing a Content Inventory (Or, A Mind-Numbingly Detailed Odyssey Through Your Web Site), in which he talks about the process of taking stock of client data, mostly as a pre-requisite to building/deploying a CMS within an organization. Includes a link to download the Adaptive Path content inventory template. Related to this article is Janice Crotty Fraser's article in Web Techniques last year.

Foreseeing the future: The legacy of Vannevar Bush

Erin writes about Vannevar Bush in B&A. His As we may think essay is requisite reading in LIS programs.

Fifty years before web, 30 years before the personal computer, Vannevar Bush envisioned a new machine to make sense of the growing mountains of information, creating the notions of “hypertext” and the modern link.

Thesaurus::RDF

I posted this link about Thesaurus::RDF, The RDF Thesaurus descriptor standard under the OPML thread so thought I'd surface it here in case it gets missed.

This document describes an RDF implementation of a representation of terms of a thesaurus. The definition of a thesaurus follows that of the NISO specification z39.19. This specification is intended as a method for thesaurus servers to transfer all or part of a thesaurus to an application.

OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language)

Thanks to Kika for pointing out the OPML format to me, which might hold some promise for people interested in shared/distributed taxonomies. What is it?

OPML an XML-based format that allows exchange of outline-structured information between applications running on different operating systems and environments.

Introduction to vocabularies; Shared categories for IA

I've got two threads here. One is a link to the Getty site and the second is a discussion about a controlled vocabulary for IA.

Getty introduction to vocabularies
I've long been intrested in the description of objects of art and several years ago delved into the literature of cataloging art work using the Getty and Visual Resources Association categories. I came across a section of the Getty site that talks about controlled vocabularies and the value of their use in describing works of art in networked environments. Should be valuable to people interested in learning about or selling the value of indexing with a controlled vocabulary. This is what the site aims to demonstrate specifically:

    1. Vocabularies can be used as "assistants" in database search engines, creating a semantic network (or roadmap) that shows links and paths between concepts. When querying a database, users can follow these paths composed of synonyms, broader/narrower terms, and related concepts to refine, expand, and enhance their searches and achieve more meaningful results. When used as a search assistant, a vocabulary is a powerful knowledge base -- linking searchers to information from both structured and unstructured databases.
     
    2. Vocabularies are sources of "standard terminology" for use in the description, cataloging, or documentation of cultural heritage collections. Vocabularies often reflect consensus of opinion within a community, that is, by answering the question - "How do we talk (or write) about this partiuar subject area?" In doing so, vocabularies become valuable tools for professional catalogers and documentation staff who need to establish consistent access points.

    Vocabularies play a critical role in the larger movement to create and apply standards that will improve access to cultural heritage information. This work requires creative collaborations among nations and disciplines in ways that have not been attempted before.

Controlled vocabularies for IA
The last point about improving access to information is relevant to our discipline. Many of us struggle when trying to exhaustively search the IA sites on some specific topic and find ourselves at a loss because different sites might describe (categorize/classify/index) that topic differently and our search tools might not help lead us to the place on all of the IA sites that mention that topic. A few people with popular sites have felt this pain with me. I have had discussions via email with a lot of these very smart people in the last couple of months. So, on IAWiki Eric is leading a discussion about the concept of SharedCategories and the value of sharing of indexing/classification schema. Please go there and add your thoughts.

CMS upgrade: Drupal v.4

I've upgraded the Drupal cms from the CVS version to the stable version 4. Please bear with me as I get some things back in order.

Thanks to everyone on the Drupal team for a kick-ass blog app.

-m

Cobranding

In the New Architect article, "Joint Venture", Adaptive Path's Jeffrey Veen discusses how to co-brand services successfully on the web.

Well-executed partnerships can make your site's offerings both more complete and more competitive. Just remember that new content or services will only attract users if they are complementary to your current offerings and are consistent with your existing interface. And without an unrelenting focus on your users fueling your development, you risk having a confusing site and alienating your core audience.

Column Two: KM & CMS blog

Step Two Designs, the firm in Australia whose whitepapers we have linked to occasionally, has started Column Two a new blog on knowledge management and content management systems.

Boolistic

Christina pointed to the Boolistic (requires Java) meta search engine and I've been having fun doing boolean AND and NOT searches with it using the neat little venn diagrams it creates from your query. Fun.

Helping Businesses Evaluate Their Internet Presence

There's a brief article NY Times article on the importance of usability testing of web sites. Putting out articles in mainstream papers like this puts the usability meme more into the mainstream consciousness. If enough business decision makers read quotes like this:

    "Many customers will infer what it means to be in the relationship with a company for its design, navigation and performance."
there will undoubtedly be a positive effect on the bottom lines of usability firms. The value of IA needs to sold like this so that business decision makers connect design/navigation/performance not only with the issue of using usabilty testing to uncover weaknesses, but to connect these aspects with the UI/UX designers and IA's that might help bridge the experience gaps between the system and the user by working on/developing these aspects.

P.S. Couldn't help but comment on the hugely intrusive advertising blocks their using to interrupt the stories these days. Yikes.

Narrowing search results

"The following documents also contained words you DID NOT search on." In the Bloug, Lou considers a comment from Rick Starbuck about using common words found in a search set that were not used in a search query in order to offer a way to narrow results. In the comments at the bottom of the page, Prentice offers that this is only one possible way to allow narrowing of results and offers a dozen more useful methods.

Newspaper design: A return to simplicity

Mario Garcia's article on simplicity in newspaper design (and redesign) is nice. Simplicity tip: "When in doubt, review the rules of the minimalistic style of Bauhaus artists. Context, without excess, is the key."

Cascading Style Sheets: Sample chapter

I am so looking foward to the CSS book that Owen Briggs, Steve Champeon, Eric Costello and Matthew Patterson have written. There's a chapter excerpt on WebReference.

The Web Standards Project

The WASP site is back. They're redirecting their energies toward education, according to Steve Champeon.

While sifting through, I also found their styleguide. I was keeping a list of these for a while.

Directory of glossaries

I'm interested in glossaries lately. Here's two nice searchable directories of glossaries: Glossarist.com and Google Glossary.

Use the Google related content link below to find more.

Personas

Peter pointed to some well-written personas for accessiblity that Mark is writing on Dive Into Mark.

Ontologies

Victor wrote some interesting thoughts about ontologies versus controlled vocabularies and thesauri and how library and information science hasn't quite connected with computer science on the issue of extracting meaning from data and building a system of commonly understood lexemes for representing a body of knowledge. So I am looking more at ontologies in order to understand where the two could/should meet. I've wondered how computer science can attain the sort of understanding of abstract concepts that humans do. I'm not talking about discerning objects/things and understanding the relationship of things to each other, but more importantly discerning hard subjects like love and all the various types of love in passages of poetry ('cause isn't love what life is all about?). Seems like artificial intelligence to me. So seems I can't avoid the topic of ontologies any more since Victor threw down the gauntlet.

Yahoo! redesign

Have a look at the Yahoo! beta. C|net News.com and MSNBC are reporting on the Yahoo! redesign its home page. The News.com article includes a screenshot of the proposed redesign and some neat screenshots of Yahoo! designs through the ages.

The redesign doesn't appear to be too radical a change in layout. Looks a lot like the other popular portals. The big "mantle" box in the left of the screen will serve as their prime advertising space. Apparently the redesign was fueled partly by advertisers, who want more screen real estate on the home page. I like Google's less obtrusive text ads and their directory. At least the centered blocks of text are reduced (thank goodness). It does look cleaner and the lines of alignment make the page easier to scan, but it's still got that characteristic portal noise thing going for it. I like that they surfaced the Mail/Calendar/Addresses links. The icing on the cake for me is that they're using anti-aliased graphics! Holy cow! Check out the logo and the buttons on the top. The web directory subject headings have moved further below the fold, though. And why do we need a search form on the top and bottom of the screen?

Would be nice to have a Yahoo! redesign contest or event. I Googled for Yahoo redesign and found Jamie Wieferman's mock-redesign for his portfolio. Compresses the layout much and proposes a more unified experience (using tabs) between the different Yahoo! branded applications. Jamie has a great site, by the way. Great screenshots of UI specs, great design and icons.

Know of any other Yahoo! mock-redesigns?

Iterative design can be lazy design

Gerry McGovern thinks that iterative design usually means putting off fixes and improvements to iterations in the next redesign. I thought the iterative design process most people take is done pre-release as well as post release. Design/Test iterate ... do this until satisified with test results ... Release ... Test/Design, etc. Perhaps when he talks about design iteration based on post-release feedback, he's thinking about evolutionary design? I dunno.

I wish Gerry would stick to writing about content.

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