All posts from
December 2009

Dec. 10, 1944: Web Visionary Passes Into Obscurity

“Some historians see in Otlet’s work a prototype of the World Wide Web and the hyperlink. Although unsuccessful, it was one of the first known attempts to provide a framework for connecting all recorded culture by creating flexible links that could rapidly lead researchers from one document to another — and perhaps make audible the previously unheard echoes between them. Anticipating postmodern literary theory, Otlet posited that documents have meaning not as individual texts, but only in relationship to each other.” (Wired) – courtesy of lievenbaeten

The Content Strategist as Digital Curator

“Curation has a distinguished history in cultural institutions. In galleries and museums, curators use judgment and a refined sense of style to select and arrange art to create a narrative, evoke a response, and communicate a message. As the digital landscape becomes increasingly complex, and as businesses become ever more comfortable using the web to bring their product and audience closer, the techniques and principles of museum curatorship can inform how we create online experiences — particularly when we approach content.” (Erin ScimeA List Apart)

Making pagination meaningful

“Working with long lists of information over a network, like web email, can be problematic. Very long lists can have a huge performance hit on your servers, leaving the user tapping her fingers waiting on slow page loads, especially on ‘very thin’ clients like mobile devices. To limit the server hit and increase response times, some systems paginate data, that is, break it up into a series of pages.” (Chris Noessel – Cooper Journal)

The Potential of Transdisciplinarity

“Transdisciplinarity has a semantic appeal which differs from what one often calls inter- or multi-, or pluri-disciplinarity. And, note that the prefix – trans- is shared with another word, namely transgressiveness. If it is true that knowledge is transgressive, then it means transdisciplinarity does not respect disciplinary boundaries. It goes beyond the disciplinary boundaries, but it does not respect institutional boundaries, either. In addition, there is a kind of similarity, a kind of convergence or co- evolution, between what is happening in the sphere of knowledge production and what we can see going on in the way that societal institutions are developing.” (Helga Nowotny – Rethinking Interdisciplinarity)

Cameras, Music, and Mattresses: Designing Query Disambiguation Solutions for the Real World

“Our language is limited and imperfect. Typically, people type search queries quickly and with little forethought, so queries are definitely less than perfect. When a customer constructs a query that may have more than one meaning, a good search user interface provides tools to help the customer define the query in less ambiguous terms, so the search results more closely match the person’s intention. This process is known as disambiguation, and best practices for effectively supporting the disambiguation of search queries are the subject of this column.” (Greg NudelmanUXmatters)

Sketchy Wireframes: When you can’t (or shouldn’t) draw a straight line

“When it comes to user interface documentation, wireframes have long been the tool of choice. However, using traditional diagramming tools like Visio, OmniGraffle, and InDesign, most wireframes today look the same as their ancestors did from a decade ago – assembled with rigid, computer-drawn boxes, lines and text. While these artifacts have served us well, they can also be slow to produce, burdened with unnecessary detail and give a false impression of ‘completion’. To compensate for the drawbacks of traditional wireframes, many practitioners put aside the computer in favor of simple pencil sketches or whiteboard drawings. This speeds up the ideation process, but doesn’t always produce presentable or maintainable documentation.” (Aaron TravisBoxes and Arrows)

Tree Testing: A quick way to evaluate your IA

“A big part of information architecture is organisation – creating the structure of a site. For most sites – particularly large ones – this means creating a hierarchical ‘tree’ of topics. But to date, the IA community hasn’t found an effective, simple technique (or tool) to test site structures. The most common method used—closed card sorting—is neither widespread nor particularly suited to this task. Some years ago, Donna Spencer pioneered a simple paper-based technique to test trees of topics. Recent refinements to that method, some made possible by online experimentation, have now made ‘tree testing’ more effective and agile.” (Dave O’BrienBoxes and Arrows)

Why Strategists Need Content Managers

“(…) I’m of the opinion that content strategy is most certainly NOT content management. As strategists, we have input on how the content is produced, managed and governed, but our goal is ultimately to aid in the creation of a strategic set of best practicies and personas to be sure that content developers are creating the most appropriate content for machines and humans.” (Daniel Eizans)

Facts and Frameworks in Paul Otlet’s and Julius Otto Kaiser’s Theories of Knowledge Organization

“In this article, I sketch Otlet’s and Kaiser’s ideas about information analysis and compare the types of knowledge organization systems (KOSs) that they constructed on the basis of these ideas. As we shall see, Otlet and Kaiser held very similar views about the possibility – and desirability – of disaggregating documents into information units and organizing the latter into indexed information files. Both men also agreed on the technological means to implement their information-analytic approach.” (Thomas M. Dousa – ASIS&T Bulletin Dec/Jan 2010)

Can Experience be Designed?

“We naturally assume that the way we experience our world must be unique. The idea that our experience has been shaped by someone else threatens our belief in individuality and personal freedom. Out of the fear to not be special many will even reject the idea that two people can share a similar physical experience.” (iA)