Web sites

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.

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:

The Right Number

Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics has started his own online novela/comic called The Right Number. It's about math, sex, obsession and phone numbers and it features a zoomable interface. Check it out.

AIfIA Job Board

Looking for a job? The Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture will soon be announcing the launch of its new Job Board. Here's a description:

The AIfIA Job Board serves as a clearinghouse for position postings relating to information architecture and more broadly to information design, interaction design, and HCI.

The Job Board is a service for AIfIA members. AIfIA is the only professional organization solely dedicated to information architecture professionals and our membership serves as a qualified pool of candidates in this emerging field.

Kudos to the AIfIA folks who worked on this.

Interaction Design Grad School

I've started a blog to document my upcoming two years of graduate work in interaction design at Carnegie Mellon.

For those of you who want to know what design grad school is like, (but don't want to spend the time or the money!) this is for you.

Maybe usability is rocket science, after all.

The Usability Engineering Team at NASA's Glenn Research Center have a site that offers help to teams adopting user centered design. Highlights include:

Open Prototyping project

From the MIT Media Lab, Carson Reynolds has started a blog where he shows ongoing prototypes from his work. Using DENIM as one main tool, the site aims to improve UIs for open source products. (thanks PeterV)

The return of Peterme

I'm glad to see Peter back in the saddle. His thoughts have been a constant source of reflection, controversy, and insight for the IA community, and it's good to have him posting on SIGIA and starting to blog again.

Macromedia tagline: Experience Matters

Macromedia has launched a new design with a corresponding marketing message about creating great experiences. The new tagline 'experience matters' has its own website with example experiential flash sites.

I alternate between loving the increased exposure of user experience, and hating the dilution of something tangible and valuable to buzz-compliant marketing copy.

Update: Jerry Knight's article on the new UI and interaction design is worth checking out.


David Riecks pointed me to his site on controlled vocabularies. David discusses the benefits of using CVs and offers a lot of examples of heavily-used controlled vocabularies and thesauri. Since David is a photographer, he also has a special interest in image indexing and devotes a special section to image databases and CVs.

multimedia is not dead, it's just asleep

Some people believe that User Experience is something that can be designed, and dating back to the theme park ride sensorama where one sat on a motorcycle seat that vibrated and bumped along while displaying a movie of the motorcycle experience and even wafting some gasoline fumes the amusement seeker's way...there have been arenas where the imagineering was truly a designed User Experinnce art

fast forward from the days of the new york world's fair and coney island fortune telling machines to lucas/disney's star tours and universal's back to the future rides and we begin to see the true potential of a designed user experience. it's definately not about sitting on the couch watching a super bowl ad with a can of duff's in hand; & it's probably not about sending a global wire transfer via c2it.com either

it might be about feeling the vibe of an interactive branding presentation, especially if it's presented in letterbox format with some deafening sound effects

see what i mean at studiocom's groovy interactive agency website

the content is prety rightous, but why can't they keep the browser window to a proper size matching their letterbox media windows?

I'm not entirely sure the user experience itself can be designed into crt images and text entry fields [and i'm not convinced that any website is more engaging than eating a bag of munchies or party mix].

Practical RDF Book & Site

This site was recommended by a fellow engineer at work. It's basically the support/info site for the O'Reilly Book Practical RDF by Shelley Powers et al. They have chapter samples online and it's an interesting practical perspective in applying RDF. Many other resources are mentioned that supplement the book's offerings.

Patterns for Personal Websites

Mark Irons has a great collection of patterns for personal web sites. Not only useful for folks building personal sites, but a good reminder that patterns are contextual - that creating universal interaction design patterns only provides a starting point. Broad patterns are a good starting point, but specific types of sites or applications also require specific additional patterns suited to their context. (and of course, good sites go beyond patterns to really fit the goals of sponsors and stakeholders)


Reversible.org is a site that automatically links back to anyone who links to it. There are some implications for this on the Reversible about page.

It has elements of a blog, a directory, a wiki, and more. Definitely an interesting effort in bottom-up categorization, for one thing. And I'm not sure how I can link to a page that I'm interested in, without also being included in that page...this is an issue, since pages act sort of like nodes in a hierarchy, and and so linking to a page implies that my linking page is a member of that node.

That means that appropriate places to link would be reversible.org/blogs, reversible.org/blogs/IA, reversible.org/design/IA, and reversible.org/design/userexperience

We'll see what kind of emergent patterns reveal themselves in a week or two.

Why can't everyone have site searches like this?

While searching for some obscure hardware from antiquity on the Western Digital site I spotted that they have an extremely cool site search system. Just searching does the standard things. Once you have your results the search box also gives options for "Fuzzy", "Stemming", "Phonic" and "Natural Language". I think these options are great for rerefiining a little better. Clicking on each of the options brings up a window with a handy definition. I just thought more sites should give users a little bit of flexability and credit for understand concepts like WD.

IA in Italiano

Eric pointed some AIfIA folks to the InformationArchitecture.it site. Wow, I might get to use that 2 semesters of Italian I took.

XML Related Acronyms Top 100

My colleague at work just shared this link with me. The site has lots of great content around XML and this really cool top 100 list of XML related acronyms.

Up my street

The Guardian has a good review of the UK site Upmystreet.com, which allows people to seek information/services within a neighborhood by entering a postal code. The site has gone a step further by connecting people in within that locale as well. The ability to mix information seeking and interpersonal interaction seems like an interesting idea. When you consider that mobile devices will can be used to access services like this, new possibilities as well as new concerns are inevitable. Apparently there are some issues of privacy and safety, such as concern over the safety of children using the service. Nevertheless, a cool new way of making connections via locale.


John S. Rhodes has started a new site for trading stuff called Trodo. Here's how it works:

Trodo members use credits to request items from each other. If you want a CD from another Trodo member, you need to have a CD credit. If you want a DVD, you need a DVD credit, and so forth. When you make a request, the other member will ship that item to you for free. In turn, when Trodo members ask you for items using their credits, you ship them for free. They ship for free, you ship for free. They use credits, you use credits.

Nice! This is an idea that I've been thinking about for a discussion group I belong to. I looked around for an app that does this sort of thing -- sort of like a book circulation tool -- but didn't find anything. Without even invoking the LazyWeb, a tool that I want appears. :) Anyway, I'm going to start posting computer and design books up there.

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