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User Interfaces for a DL October 12, 2007

Posted by Andre Vellino in Collaborative filtering, Digital library, Enterprise Architecture, Visualization.
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My colleague Glen Newton has developed some innovative search-and-browse interfaces for a digital library – they are part of his Ungava project. This web application has been deployed on our experimental platform CISTI Lab and you can try it out on a collection from the NRC Research Press.

Stephen Anthony has blogged at greater length about CISTI Lab and all the other stuff that’s on there, especially from the point of view of Enterprise Architecture.

One of the interfaces Glen is experimenting with is what he calls “drill clouds” and he has recently written about this on his blog. Although I’m not the world’s biggest fan of tag cloud-like things (I just don’t like text as a UI), I think this is a pretty cool experiment and I believe in having multiple interfaces (drill clouds, timelines, exhibit view) to achieve the same end.

I plan to use Ungava as a platform for generating user-data and article recommendations to users and the question arises of what interfaces will work best for displaying recommendation results. Sequential lists are understood by one and all, but they’re boring and not especially useful.

Glen recently pointed me to an interesting clustering UI for displaying recommendation results, but I don’t think I will try to emulate it. It looks nice, but I don’t find it informative.

I wish I could be more precise about how I think a recommendation result interface should look like. I’m drawn to something more like intention-driven search interfaces explored at Yahoo and also implemented at Microsoft Live Search Academic (Beta). These engines give you sliders and controllers that allow you to re-order search results according to relevance criteria. Something dynamic and interactive like that can be profitably done with recommendations as well.

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