Information Design Watch

May 11, 2005, 1:26 pm

Election Maps, BBC Version

By d/D

The BBC visualizes the recent parliamentary elections in the United Kingdom with this interactive map:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/vote2005/flash_map/html/map05.stm

One elegant feature of this tool is its ability to pan and zoom to a constituency by name as well as geography. What it lacks is a separate layer for indexing the results to demographic data or past results.

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

May 11, 2005, 1:24 pm

Search Results in Groups and Folders

By d/D

Several new search engines are experimenting with ways to group search results into categories. Two competing approaches are Vivisimo’s Clusty, a site that sorts results into “Windows”-like folders, and Groxis, Inc.’s Grokker, a technology the turns results into a visual map. The Vivisimo crowd is not impressed:

“‘A lot of these fancier visualization systems look appealing,’ said Oren Etzioni, a University of Washington computer scientist, who is an adviser to the Web search engine company Vivisimo, ‘but they are pretty confusing. Even for expert users they don’t enhance productivity’”

For generic Web searches, Etzioni is probably right. However, for search analysis, Grokker may be quite useful. Its filters allow a map to be changed on the fly, by keyword, date, or even the ranking of results by the Yahoo! search engine feed that drives it (click “Show Tools at the bottom of a Grokker results page to see these options).

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/09/technology/09yahoo.html (free registration required)

http://www.grokker.com/

http://clusty.com/

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Visual Explanation, Web Interface Design

May 11, 2005, 1:21 pm

Social Networking on the Net

By d/D

New capital stills pours into the Internet. This time some of it is going to online community sites — specifically to those targeted to professionals. The New York Times describes two such contenders, LinkedIn and Tribe.net. The business model is based on advertising, but of a particularly local kind — the job lead and the sales lead:

“Like other social networking sites, LinkedIn is hoping to create a viable business by capturing a small piece of a classified advertising market estimated to be worth more than $20 billion.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/09/technology/09network.html (free registration required)

http://www.linkedin.com/

http://www.thetribe.net/

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Business

May 11, 2005, 1:16 pm

Manufacturers Follow their Users

By d/D

Democratizing Innovation, a new book by MIT Professor Eric von Hippel, explains how low-cost design tools let enthusiasts customize high-end products to their own specifications. Using the Internet, these “lead users” are able to popularize their ideas and create demand for them that filters back to the manufacturer:

“In a study at 3M, [Von Hippel] and several colleagues found that product ideas from lead users generated eight times the sales of ideas generated internally — $146 million versus $18 million a year — in part because lead users were more likely to come up with ideas for entire new product lines rather than minor improvements.”

http://www.dynamist.com/articles-speeches/nyt/innovation.html

Professor Von Hippel’s book is available for download from his Web site at:

http://web.mit.edu/evhippel/www/books.htm

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Books and Articles, Business, Technology