Information Design Watch

November 10, 2004, 3:14 pm

Complexity and its Costs

By d/D

The Economist surveys the state of the IT world in terms of one idea: complexity. The thesis is that complexity slows the adaptation and spread of new technologies, undermines the usability of existing technologies, and, most bluntly, increases costs:

“The Standish Group, a research outfit that tracks corporate IT purchases, has found that 66% of all IT projects either fail outright or take much longer to install than expected because of their complexity. Among very big IT projects — those costing over $10m apiece — 98% fall short.”

The survey is mostly a catalog of known debates such as the virtues of Linux vs. Windows or voice-over-Internet vs. “plain old telephone service,” but it does pull together many different issues into a comprehensive pattern.

http://www.economist.com/surveys/displaystory.cfm?story_id=3307363

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Business, Technology

November 10, 2004, 3:12 pm

Shortcutting the Semantic Web

By d/D

The W3C’s Semantic Web project is an attempt to define the attributes necessary to make Web data usable by database applications as well as people. Now, Sony Computer Science Laboratory is promoting its “emergent semantics” technology as an alternative. Instead of a markup-level tagging system, Sony’s system looks at how content is accessed and shared:

“In emergent semantics, a user’s agent bootstraps the information and categorization of content, such as the classification of music in genres. Through interactions among agents trading ‘favorite’ songs, genres emerge that are common to sets of users. Such emergent semantics as self-organizing genres are automatically tagged onto the content as an extra layer of information rather than depending on people to do the tagging”

http://www.eetimes.com/article/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=51201131

The W3C’s Semantic Web home page is at:

http://www.w3c.org/2001/sw/

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Implementation, Technology

November 10, 2004, 3:08 pm

Election Wrap

By d/D

Following up on our link to Professor Sam Wang’s U.S. Electoral College map in our October 13 issue, here is a set of interesting post-election maps. Created by Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman of the University of Michigan, each geographical map of state or county results is paired with a map that is distorted to reflect population:

“…on such a map, the state of Rhode Island, with its 1.1 million inhabitants, would appear about twice the size of Wyoming, which has half a million, even though Wyoming has 60 times the acreage of Rhode Island.”

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/

One map that Gastner, Shalizi and Newman manipulate is Princeton Unversity Professor Robert Vanderbei’s “purple” map that shows the full continuum of percentage-based results. The patterns that result indicate interesting correlations between geography and demographics as well as a more complex view of the vote:

http://www.princeton.edu/%7Ervdb/JAVA/election2004/

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Current Events, Maps, Visual Explanation

November 10, 2004, 2:57 pm

Information Architecture vs. User Experience: What Is the Difference?

By d/D

Information Architect Peter Boersma argues that “big” information architecture, the large-scale integration of specialized IA tasks such as navigational design and metadata analysis with related specialties such as visual design and copywriting, should inherit the term “User Experience.”

With the aid of several condensed cocktail-napkin sketches, Boersma gets beyond the terminology debate and offers a useful way of understanding the scope of big information-based projects.

http://www.peterboersma.com/blog/2004/11/t-model-big-ia-is-now-ux.html

Boersma introduces his essay with a reference to Peter Morville’s “Big Architect Little Architect” essay, found here:

http://argus-acia.com/strange_connections/strange004.html

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Information Architecture, User Experience