HITS 2003 Presentation Slides

The HITS 2003 Presentation Slides are online. HITS (Humans, Interaction, Technology, Strategy) was a conference I really wanted to go to, but having already spent my conference budget, I'm happy to see the slides online. Thanks [InfoDesign]

Peter Merholz has also shared some of his thoughts about the conference. Of particular interest is the different takes on value and the fundamental business talks.

Personas: Setting the Stage for Building Usable Information Site

Personas: Setting the Stage for Building Usable Information Sites by Alison J. Head [via InfoDesign (Peter J. Bogaards)], a good article on personas, showing more than telling, with good example personas and a brief case study using BBCi.

Includes pointers, necessary details, and a tutorial featuring a well-explained example.

Text Mining: Making Connections to Help People & Business

Great article in NYTimes(free registrated required) related to information retrieval, categorization/classification, and use.

"Digging for Nuggets of Wisdom"

Marti Hearst is quoted regarding information vizualization, text mining, and such. Most of the focus was on retrieval in homogenous content such as Medline. The reason why I liked the article was it provides an example of how people/business benefit from better IR tools for such disciplines as medicine.

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.

Report slams Web personalization | CNET News.com

Companies trying to get personal with their Web site visitors in hopes of increasing sales are wasting more money than they're earning, warns a new report.

The Jupiter Research report, 'Beyond the Personalization Myth,' assails as expensive and unproductive the practice of Web site personalization, which tailors pages according to information gathered about particular visitors.

Report slams Web personalization | CNET News.com

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.


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.

Nathan Shedroff interviewed re: experience design

Jared Spool's U.I.E. Tips interviews Nathan Shedroff regarding information design: www.uiconf.com/8/articles/shedroff_interview.html

The interview is kind of a basic introduction to the discipline of Experience Design.

(The interview is available on the User Interface 8 conference website.)

Timeline collection

Matt Jones is collecting timelines.

Web searches: are they fixed?

Interesting article in Business Week Online regarding paid placements and some potential controversy involving small businesses. I found the link at searchengineposition.com.

Web Searches: The Fix Is In
by Ben Elgin, October 6, 2003

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.

Salary Survey results

The HFI Salary Survey, which I mentioned here a while ago, has released its results. The quick info for US respondents:

Commercial: $82,600 (179 respondents)

Government & Nonprofit: $59,700 (23 respondents)

With the US respondents working in the commercial sector of the economy, three factors appear to influence compensation:

  1. experience in the field
  2. advanced degrees
  3. primary activity

View the full results. Also, I started Salary Surveys page at iawiki to keep track of all of these. If you know of one that's missing, add it!

Enterprise IA Roadmap from Lou Rosenfeld

Lou Rosenfeld shares some thoughts from his current Enterprise Information Architecture seminars with his EIA Roadmap - a diagram showing the progression of IA within the enterprise. As well as laying out a course for pursuing IA within an organization, it acts as an interesting measure of capability and maturity of IA within the organization.

Speaking of EIA, I've been thinking about the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) that measures competence in software development. When there finally is a central UX advocacy organization, it would be interesting to see what kind of UXCMM would be possible. There is already the Usability Maturity Model but that lacks integration across UX disciplines (IA, ID, etc.) If you're interested, here's more details on the UM model. [34 pg pdf]

Enhanching the softer side of IAs

Great article on the soft skills we need as IAs to win/influence folks with whom we work with.

Soft Skills for Information Architecture by our very own Jeff Lash over at Digital Web.

A little play on an axiom that stuck out for me and I know will help me get through the requirements and design process:

Grant me the strength to improve the features that I can
Accept the features that I cannot
And give me the wisdom to know the difference

Putting it Together: Taxonomy, Classification & Search

A good overview of the current state of the art in combining taxonomies and search from Jeff Morris in Transform magazine. Combining taxonomy and classification with search gives people a map of the resources available to them. This kind of taxonomy, classification and search combination is becoming essential for the major search vendors. [thanks Infodesign]

AIfIA Tools section launches!

Wow! Erin Malone throws down and gets the AIfIA tools initiative rolling with a great collection of tools that can be used in everyday practice. Thanks Erin and all who worked on this!

Document templates, process map posters and other tools to help you in your practice. The documents, which have been donated by various people in the organization, have been found to be useful at one time or another. Items can be used in combination or alone as needed.

If you have templates and documents that you would like to share with AIfIA and other members of the community, contact iatools@aifia.org. A Tools initiative volunteer will work with you to "cleanse" your submission(s) of proprietary logos and language and add it to this page.