jibbajabba's blog

What is a k-log?

WriteTheWeb talks with John Robb of Userland about klogs.

    Some people are taking the concept of weblogs and applying it to the wider concept of knowledge management. The result is k-logging ("knowledge-logging"). But will it catch on - will your employer dump Lotus Notes databases in favour of browsers and blog-style brain-dumps?
Dotcom boom 'just beginning'

The Mail on Sunday discusses the optimistic outlook of US economist W Brian Arthur.

    The internet boom will return - and it will be bigger and more profitable than the first time round. They sound like the views of a web nerd - or a lunatic. But this amazing assertion comes from respected US economist W Brian Arthur.


    According to economists who agree with Arthur, technology must become so user-friendly that people do not think twice about it. In that respect, the internet is being absorbed into everyday life, despite slow download times and quirky graphics.

    Once the glitches are ironed out, so the theory goes, the real money will be made by the players left standing.

Macromedia Flash MX

Flash MX is set to ship on March 15.

Flash MX is being marketed for its improved workflow abilities and for accessibility features including alternate text for graphics and the ability to be used by screen readers through support of Microsoft Active Accessibility. Flash will also support the use of named anchors, allowing users to use browser back and forward buttons (if the flash Movie is created with achors) and bookmarking.

One of the new features is a set of pre-built form components including scrollbars, rich text fields, input buttons, radio buttons, check boxes and list and combo boxes. I'm sure somebody will be able to make the argument for doing prototypes in Flash now that these components are available.

Web navigation: Traffic light, not neon light

Gerry McGovern says make navigation design simple. He offers some suggestions including not changing the browser default blue and purple link and followed link colors (ugh, please) and other suggestions from Jonathan and Lisa Price's book Hot Text.

    Navigation allows the reader to find the content they want by moving through a website using classification links. It should be designed in a simple, clear, consistent and functional manner; like a traffic light, not a neon light.
Flash 6 and usability

According to this News.com article, Macromedia Flash 6 will help developers create more than just eye candy.

    Much of Macromedia's case for the new Flash centers on usability--that Web pages and applications designed entirely in Flash will load faster, work more reliably and make it easier for customers to transact business.

    For example, it's intended to eliminate page refreshes. Users will be able to continue to browse a site even while the Web page processes credit card information and other data.

    "We've seen tremendous growth of the Web over the last four years, but it's largely content," said Kevin Lynch, Macromedia's chief software architect. "A small percentage is applications right now, and the usability of those is not that great. You try to book a reservation or get information on a stock, and you have to go through these multiple pages. It's crazy how difficult that is. You make a mistake, and you get put back to one of those forms with the asterisks (that say) 'fill this in.'

    "We think that experience could be far easier," Lynch said. "We think with Flash, developers can build sites so that we can go from browsing to actually using the Web to get things done."

thanks, SIGIA

Knowledge, Information, Content - or just Data

This article on IT Director offers some so-called "analysis" about data, content, information and knowledge and their places within IT systems for content management. Unfortunately, the analyst gets definitions about these terms wrong. Any understanding about what a CMS can do really hinges on your understanding of these terms. Seems rather important to be able to define these terms if you're going to assess a CMS.

One of the readers offers some worthwhile definitions of KM in the following comment.

    Knowledge is taking the data and applying the experience of the individual to it. Without experience, Knowledge captured is simply information. What was knowledge to one individual when codified is simply information that the next individual can use. When they apply this information to accomplish something they integrate this into their own understnad [sic] and it is stored as knowledge in the individual. Knowledge management should be involved in how do we extract information from people so that they can use it to build their own knowledge. -Ivan Labombarbe
Polar Bear, 2nd ed.

Lou says The End is Near.

    [T]he second edition will really be a new book: much, much more material, and what we retained from the first edition is significantly revised and updated. As far as quality, we hope you'll be the judge of that.
Jakob Told Me To Do It

Nielsen, that is.

    Why have you designed your site with 1994 in mind, as the Web itself and browsers have moved on considerably?

    Users detect change and thereís no point changing if you canít add anything new.

Sigh. Thanks, InfoDesign... I think.

The Visual Display of Quantitative XML

This is a very cool XML.com article that discusses how to present XML data graphically using XSLT and SVG.

thanks, InfoDesign

Oh Say, Can You Login?

TFM looks at some bad practices for login -- poor access to the login form and preassignment of login names.

    In the spirit of critiquing bad experiences to provide inspiration for creating better ones, let's take a look at the abysmal state of logins.
Controlled vocabulary and thesauri in support of online info.

In WWW -- Wealth, Weariness or Waste (D-Lib, Nov. 1998) David Batty discusses how to exploit indexing information to provide better access to data using structured language (controlled vocabularies and thesauri). A good read for all you facet fans.

    This article offers some thoughts on the problems of access to information in a machine-sensible environment, and the potential of modern library techniques to help in solving them. It explains how authors and publishers can make information more accessible by providing indexing information that uses controlled vocabulary, terms from a thesaurus, or other linguistic assistance to searchers and readers.

thanks, heyotwell

The Persuasive Power of Design Elements on E-Commerce Web Sites

Article in Technical Communications (Full text requires subscription, abstract available with free registration. Also available via Factiva/DJI.)

    This study examines how design elements on an e-commerce Web site carry out the rhetorical function of persuasion. Research results suggest that the way design elements are presented on a site affects their persuasive power, placing designers firmly in command of the persuasive process. Understanding how design elements appeal to a shopper's logic, emotions, and assessment of credibility gives designers a set of tools they can apply in their work.
Information Design for the Small-screen Interface: An Overview

Article in Technical Communications (Full text requires subscription, abstract available with free registration. Also available via Factiva/DJI.) discussing at length the usability of information delivered by the PDA technology. Examines how the screen size, text-based design, and cumbersome interfaces of PDAs affect information search and retrieval, and charts a framework for understanding differences between handheld and desktop Web environments, and identifies issues for research.

UML is not ready for users, finds seminar

Usability news reports on findings of the Usability and UML seminar.

    The Usability and UML seminar in Scotland this month concluded that basic UML (User Modelling Language) is seriously restricted, and restricting, in modelling complex, collaborative human activities involving computer-based systems.

See also, the slides available from the program.

thanks, Other Blog

Thesaurus design seminar in NYC

St. John's to Offer Seminar on Thesaurus Design in New York City.

    Thesaurus Design for Semantic Information Management" is the theme of a Professional Development Seminar to be taught by Dr. Bella Hass Weinberg, Professor, Division of Library and Information Science, St. John's University, on Tuesday, April 16, 2002, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, 42 West 44th Street, in Manhattan. The fee for the seminar is $110, including lunch, coffee breaks, and handouts. There will be preregistration discounts for all, as well as special rates for students and members of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

    The seminar will introduce the design of controlled vocabularies for indexing and searching, covering semantic relationships, thesaurus format, and screen display. Computer-assisted techniques of thesaurus development and natural language search strategies will also be discussed. Continuing Education Units (.6 CEU) will be available to those attending, under the auspices of Metropolitan College of St. John's University. Information architects, librarians, indexers, and technical writers should benefit from the seminar. The prior seminars have been rated "excellent" by the vast majority of those attending, including experienced thesaurus designers.

    Dr. Weinberg chaired the committee of the National Information Standards Organization that developed the revised American National Standard on thesaurus construction, which was reaffirmed in 1998. She is a Past President of the American Society of Indexers and the recipient of its Hines Award. At St. John's, Professor Weinberg teaches graduate courses in information science, indexing and abstracting, and thesaurus design. She has developed a new course that focuses on information architecture. Dr. Weinberg consults on the design of thesauri and indexes, has done research on thesaurus structure, and publishes extensively on linguistics and
    information science.

    For further information, contact:
    Phone: (718) 990-6200
    Division of Library and Information Science
    Fax: (718) 990-2071
    St. John's University
    E-mail: libis@stjohns.edu
    8000 Utopia Parkway
    Jamaica, NY 11439


Treemaps for space-constrained visualization of hierarchies traces the history of Ben Schneiderman's treemap research at the University of Maryland. The paper points to a lot of the literature (in some cases to abstracts only) produced in Schneiderman's research and also illustrates the development of his concept for treemaps into working applications.

thanks, Phil O.

Win Customers with Better Usability

eBusiness Advisor offers some tips to make sites usable.

    As the Web continues to make external accessibility issues moot, internal accessibility -- usability -- becomes all the more vital.

thanks, LucDesk

Password retrieval usability

Apparently, retrieving lost passwords is costing business a lot of money. In the Business Week article, Software That Asks "Who Goes There?", alternative methods for managing passwords are discussed to help control the cost and headaches.

    It's enough to give any business a headache, let alone a health-insurance company. Tech-support staffers at insurer Wellpoint say they receive 14,000 calls every month from employees who have forgotten their computer-access passwords for the company's Intranet site and need a manual reset.

thanks, Tomalak's Realm

Hit and Miss with Section 508

On Evolt, Ben Dyer takes the section 508 site for a Bobby stroll and comes up with some accessibility problems. I guess it's time for the government to put it's money where it's mouth is.

    The Section 508 web site fails to hit some of its own guidelines. Here's what we can learn from what they missed.

Peter started an interesting discussion about serendipity in his Guide to Ease blog.

Serendipity is important in doing library research. Libraries are organized around classification systems to facilitate finding things serendipitously. You might go to the section of your library that has a specific book on Photography, and then find that lo and behold, there are a slew of other books on photography surrounding you. You keep poking around and find 3 other possibly relevant books and the number of possible topics that might appear in your research begins to grow. The physical arrangement of the books around a classification system like Dewey made that happen.

How is this relevant to IA? We facilitate serendipity by creating classification systems, whether they are simple or ad-hoc systems, flexible indexing systems using facets, or very structured hierarchical systems like Dewey. Those access points people use to get to content are important, and they are the result of our work. It should be transparent to users how the information is organized, but whether it's in the form of a hierarchy of topics people use in site navigation or in embedded hypertext links for metadata or classification terms in database records, the mode of access is often through classifications we've defined.

This is the stuff that we do in libraries (digital or physical) that is similar to what IA's do with web sites. It's about organizing information for access. So while Search might be the current hammer for serendipity, just remember when speaking to your clients that there are other methods (which produce perhaps more relevant results?) that have been used throughout history to aid in finding information/knowledge.

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