Information Design Watch
April 8, 2004, 9:14 am
Google has posted two personalization features based on its bare-bones search engine. “Google Personalized Web Search” can “tailor search-engine results to a user’s specific interests,” while “Google Web Alerts,” is an email alerting tool.
The personalized web search tool allows users to run a “normal” search, then filter the resulting hits dynamically based on a manually-entered profile. It’s easy to try out to see the effect:
Since most Internet users avoid advanced search options, the ability to adjust search results without re-running a search (e.g. with a “refine search” option) could be useful. While requiring users to enter a profile is unlikely to succeed, many Web sites could add baseline filters to their search results pages based on the site’s content and audience.
April 8, 2004, 9:08 am
Edward R. Tufte has posted a draft chapter from his new book Beautiful Evidence. The topic is “sparklines” a word coined by Tufte to refer to “data-intense, design-simple, word-size graphics.”
One question about Tufte’s idea is its ability to work electronically. Most of Tufte’s examples derive from time-series data that a computer program could use to create sparklines on the fly — assuming they could be optimized for digital display.
Tufte invites readers to contribute responses to his posting, so his original text at the URL below is followed by many interesting comments and examples.
April 8, 2004, 8:36 am
Over the past decade the expansion of electronic alternatives has dramatically undermined the encyclopedia market. In response, publishers are looking for ways to obtain more value from their content:
“The shrunken reference powers that survived the shakeout — namely Britannica, World Book, and Grolier, the maker of Encyclopedia Americana now owned by Scholastic Library Publishing — have now retooled to focus more on online products.
“Voluminous sets are still printed, but mostly only for institutions. The encyclopedia companies are also targeting consumers with more concise and less expensive reference books.”
Online, the possibilities are exciting. The same data that drives an encyclopedia Web site could be queried by many different kinds of customized informational tools. The success of such tools, however, depends upon equally customized information architectures, each tailored to help a specific audience extract meaningful information from a specific body of content.