jibbajabba's blog

Mooter

The automatic clustering done by the new Mooter search engine seems interesting. An article in the Herald Sun interviews Liesl Capper, the proprietor of the new search engine company, which will be offering enterprise search services:

"What Mooter does is that we look at the long lists of results from other search engines and then we group them using artificial intelligence algorithms. But also we look at what you're doing and while you're working we actually move with you and push up things that you seem to be interested in".

GraphViz Site Map script now offered under GPL

Sorry to keep posting announcements about the GraphViz script here. A few people have been asking for the PHP script that runs the GraphViz Site Map Generator so with some reluctance I am now offering the script for free use under GPL. I'm mainly reluctant to share it so openly because it shows my limited understanding of PHP :(. But if you want to hack away at it to make it better, please send me back the improvements you've made. You can grab the script (it's one file), but I'm not going to be offering any major support. Let me know if you use it successfully somewhere.

FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology)

Edward T. O'Neill and Lois Mai Chan presented at World Library and Information Congress: 69th IFLA General Conference and Council 1-9 August 2003, Berlin, FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology): a simplified LCSH-based vocabulary -- scroll to find the presentation translated in English, French, German and Russian under heading 126. Classification and Indexing or download the PDF directly.

Abstract:

The Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) schema is by far the most commonly used and widely accepted subject vocabulary for general application. It is the de facto universal controlled vocabulary and has been a model for developing new subject heading systems around the world. However, LCSH’s complex syntax and rules for constructing headings restrict its application by requiring highly skilled personnel and limit the effectiveness of automated authority control. Recent trends, driven to a large extent by the rapid growth of the Web, are forcing changes in bibliographic control systems to make them easier to use, understand, and apply, and subject headings are no exception. The purpose of adapting the LCSH in a faceted schema with a simplified syntax is to retain the very rich vocabulary of LCSH while making it easier to understand, control, apply, and use. The FAST schema maintains upward compatibility with LCSH, and any valid set of LC subject headings can be converted to FAST headings. FAST consists of eight distinct facets. Authority records have been created for all established headings except for the chronological facet. The initial version of the FAST authority file will contain approximately two million authority records.

Information Architecture: Designing Environments for Purpose

"Information Architecture: Designing Environments for Purpose" edited by Alan Gilchrist and Barry Mahon, available from Amazon. Peter Morville includes his official history (and future) of information architecture (PDF) in the preface to the book.

Timeline collection

Matt Jones is collecting timelines.

CommArts Interactive Annual 9

The winners of the Communication Arts Interactive Annual are up.

Cataloguing Cultural Objects: Guide to Describing Cultural Works

The Visual Resources Association has recently published the Cataloguing Cultural Objects (CCO) in the hopes of developing guidelines or standards for describing and retrieving information about cultural works.

CCO provides guidelines for selecting, ordering, and formatting data used to populate catalog records. CCO is designed to promote good descriptive cataloging, shared documentation, and enhanced end-user access. Whether used locally to develop training manuals, or universally as a guide to building consistent cultural heritage documentation in a shared environment, CCO will contribute to improved documentation and enhanced access to cultural heritage information.
Trumping Google? Metasearching's Promise

Information services organizations (libraries) continue to be challenged by information seeking behaviors and expectations of web search engine users. In a recent Library Journal article, Judy Luther discusses issues related to metasearch engines. In the article she writes, "For many searchers, the quality of the results matter less than the process -- they just expect the process to be quick and easy." Anecdotally, I've found this to be true of users I've encountered within my organization. For more exhaustive and relevant searching, these searchers can turn to researchers for help -- that is, real subject matter experts who know the sources and how to search them.

Searching multiple databases is a special kind of problem because the databases don't always share the same controlled vocabularies or use the same protocols (e.g. Z39.50, XML). But there is great advantage to users viewing intermixed and deduped search results from multiple sources. The search engine DogPile or the SpotLight federated search engines of the California Digital Library are good examples that show how this works. At the SLA conference, federated search seemed to still be a buzzword among search vendors.

See also the related article on federated search by Roy Tenant.

GraphViz Site Map Generator with SVG output

I updated the Site Map Generator, a proof of concept application (or toy) that shows GraphViz's functionality as an IA tool. This set of updates produces more readable SVGs. View the hierarchical map and radial map demos to see the results (SVG viewer required). Note that due to memory constraints, this only works with files up to about 438 lines, so uploading your huge content inventory might not work.

SVG is pretty cool. Ever since Auke turned me onto it by pointing me to this map showing social patterns and structures in Vienna I've been floored by this technology and vowed to learn more about it. Haven't gotten there yet, but once SVG viewers get better browser penetration, there will be a lot more we can do to help users visualize information by just serving an SVG XML file.

UPA NYC event: Making intranet weblog data usable

The presentation slides from my discussion on Blogging in Corporate America at the NYC UPA chapter meeting are available for downloading. I've also posted some rather short afterthoughts here.

Netflix redesigns, shifts navigation to right without warning

Users of Netflix might have discovered a slightly changed site this week. The DVD rental company redesigned their site, simplifying the global menu and shifting the local menu from the left to the right. The design is fine, but I thought it was strange to redesign and shift the local navigation over without giving any warning to users that it was about to happen. Very different from the experience you expect on large, popular sites. For example. when Yahoo! redesigned their home page, the change was subtle, and a preview of the changes to come was available for weeks before they cut over. That, to me, seems like a better practice to uphold when redesigning.

TIF: Thesaurus Interchange Format

Semantic Blogging Demonstrator is pointing to Alistair Miles' and Brian Matthews' Thesaurus Interchange Format RDF schema, which is designed to link thesauri.

Information Architecture for Designers book site

The book site has been launched for Peter Van Dijck's Information Architecture for Designers: Structuring Websites for Business Success (link to pre-order from Amazon), complete with table of contents, sample chapter, and templates for producing IA deliverables. Congratulations, Peter.

Nutch: Open source search engine

Nutch is a nascent effort to implement an open-source web search engine.

Nutch provides a transparent alternative to commercial web search engines. Only open source search results can be fully trusted to be without bias. (Or at least their bias is public.) All existing major search engines have proprietary ranking formulas, and will not explain why a given page ranks as it does. Additionally, some search engines determine which sites to index based on payments, rather than on the merits of the sites themselves. Nutch, on the other hand, has nothing to hide and no motive to bias its results or its crawler in any way other than to try to give each user the best results possible.
Dictionary of names

Ever struggle to find a name that fits a design persona perfectly? The Kabalarian Philosophy site has a useful name dictionary. You can view male/female names in alpha order or browse by category, e.g. ethnicity or geographic location.

Looking for last names? You might find some interesting ones at Vitalog.net's surname database or using last-names.net's Last Name Meanings Dictionary.

User Interface Library

Gabe Zentall has published a library of user interface templates in Adobe Illustrator (also available as PDF), which provides UI elements for use in prototype design. It covers Windows, OS X, and Palm. The templates are excellent excellent for creating high-fidelity wireframes or prototypes. Template sets are separated on different layers in the Illustrator file and all are of course, completely editable. This is perfect for Illustrator wireframers. I'm thinking that this would be a nice OmniGraffle pallette as well.

[Thanks, Column Two and Reloade]

Video search on PBS.org

Gary Price points out that PBS is offering free keyword and or title search of some of its video. Being the father of a two-year old, I do regular visits to JungleWalk with my son to look for animal videos. Now I can add Nature to my bookmarks.
Searching is quite nice on PBS. You can do keyword searches or browse by show/program title. Odd that they don't let you view the metadata, though. I wondered after searching the Nature archives for "leach" why vampire bat and mosquito videos were returned when what I wanted to find was the blood sucking leaches from the same "Blood Suckers" show. I guess there is one metadata record shared per show, which I guess makes sense when there are only 2 or three short videos available per program. That way, obviously related videos are presented in your search results.
Available presently on PBS:

ROI calculations: K-Logs vs. traditional Intranet Portals

John Robb summarizes an ROI document produced by PlumTree Software estimating the value of portal software and compares with his estimation of the value of K-Log software. He puts the total ROI of a K-Log system at 1,170% compared to the total ROI of a traditional Portal system at 240%.

How people use the Internet Daily

A colleague pointed me to the statistics kept by Pew Internet & American Life on the typical daily activities of Internet users. The data are compiled from market research they publish related to their mission of providing research on the Internet's growth and societal impact. The organization funds original, academic-quality research that explores the impact of the Internet on children, families, communities, the work place, schools, health care and civic/political life.

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