Tag Archives: Academic Papers

code-of-ethics First-Amendment folksonomies free-speech information-architecture internet learnability media recommendation site-navigation social-bookmarking spatial maps Taxonomies Usability video-games Writing

Information visualizations and spatial maps on the web – Usability concerns

Visualizing the web

Although web technologies are constantly changing, most users still browse the web the same way they did back in 1995–typing keywords into search boxes, clicking from home page, to section, to subsection on a navigation bar, or following link, to link, to link. The fact that it is called a “web” suggests that there should be other ways of navigating websites, and there are a number of projects attempting to employ information visualizations and spatial maps to do so.

All web pages organize information visually, but “information visualization centers around helping people explore or explain data that is not inherently spatial, such as that from the domains of bioinformatics, data mining and databases, finance and commerce, telecommunications and networking, information retrieval from large text corpora, software, and computer-supported cooperative work.” (“InfoVis 2003 Symposium”) Spatial metaphors are used to communicate different levels of information. A simple, static example would be a personal homepage built to look like the designers home, with links to favorite movies in the living room and recipes in the kitchen. A more advanced example would be a customer relationship management system for a large company which instead of presenting a list of technical support problems and solutions, displays an interactive map of problems, with more common problems in a larger font size, and recent problems in red. In both cases, users get an immediate grasp of complex information.

Such visualizations are intended to help solve two current web usability problems: the lack of a wide view to web structure, and the lack of query refinement based on relationships of retrieved pages (Ohwada 548). But they must do so without creating additional usability barriers. This paper will describe three current information visualization projects and describe some of the usability issues these sorts of projects face.

Continue reading

Electronic Beat: Internet Ethics and Speech

Compiled by Jason Morrison

Last updated 28 Oct 1999

The following links send you to sites I’ve found useful in my search for a system of ethics for the internet. The plan is to eventually compare this ethical system or series of systems with those used by journalists. Because of the structure of the net, it may prove useful to define three different groups for which systems of ethics may be written:

  1. Users (who view web pages, purchase products, etc.),
  2. Publishers (who create and maintain web pages, write articles, and sell products),
  3. and Governing Bodies (who maintain domain names, national governments, and other groups in a position to enhance/alter the flow of information between the above).

The third category seems to have the most rigorous ethical systems devised, not by members of that category but usually by watchdog-type organizations and free speech organizations. In short, those with a vested interest in the actions of members of category three.

Category one, on the other hand, is a bit less interesting. Most of what I’ve found so far are lists of ‘netiquette’ dos and don’ts. Still, there may very well be something more out there, and I will continue to look.

I have yet to find much in category two, but I believe that is because most web publishers approach their work as and extension of their current profession, i.e. journalists, advertisers, scholars, etc. It is also interesting to note that because of the ease of publishing on the web, John Q. User from category one may also have a homepage placing him in category two as well. The lines between one and two are often blurred by the nature of the medium.

Continue reading