Author Archives for Fran

30 Usability Issues To Be Aware Of

November 19, 2007 2:58 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

I found this to be a useful article on usability issues.30 Usability Issues To Be Aware Of | Know-How | Smashing Magazine There is a handy glossary and a lot of comments. I particularly liked the way you can assign meaning by juxtaposition. I come across this all the time in text and it’s interesting to see it works just as well – if not better – purely visually.


November 18, 2007 4:32 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

I’ve recently had fascinating conversations with two professional taxonomists – one at EDS and one at the BBC – and both use very different but imaginative and innovative combinations of folksonomic and traditional taxonomic procedures. All the best taxonomists advocate consulting as much as possible with your users, which is obvious, and a folksonomy is pretty much a glorified mass user consultation exercise. But why stop with the consultation stage? You still get an awful lot of noise to your signal in folksonomies and the best way to clear that is still to apply some trained thoughtful evaluation – the... Read more »

The art of digital librarianship

November 13, 2007 2:59 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

This was a dinky little podcast on techwritervoices. A fairly light and simple introduction but with a couple of good examples. I particularly liked the description of information architecture as the art of digital librarianship.

Folksonomy backlash

November 9, 2007 11:02 am Published by Leave your thoughts

First person: ‘Folksonomy’ takes power from expert librarians, an article by David Bowen of Bowen Craggs & Co in the Financial Times‘s Digital Business section on November 7th highlights some of the advantages of having a well-crafted carefully structured taxonomy instead of relying on folksonomies. He says that folksonomies are great in some cases, but that really valuable information is by definition specialised and therefore doesn’t get read by enough people for mass social tagging to be helpful. I think there are two key limitations to the usefulness of the folksonomic approach. Firstly, you need loads of people. If you... Read more »


November 8, 2007 5:31 am Published by Leave your thoughts

I went to the ISKO UK conference Ranganathan Revisited on Monday sponsored by Factiva, which was very interesting indeed. There were 5 presentations – two on classification theory, a fascinating insight into how Factiva sort and output the thousands of news reports they process every day, an introduction to a very interesting new meta-analysis energy portal for monitoring trends in reporting, and a demonstration of Aduna’s Autofocus software that gives a visual representation of searches. One of the interesting and perennial themes that came up in conversations was the difference in approach of computer scientists from people with an information... Read more »

Taxonomies: start here

November 4, 2007 10:08 am Published by Leave your thoughts

No taxonomy blog would be complete without a link to this: Understanding information taxonomy helps build better apps. It seems to be the article that everyone comes back to (or starts off with). A clear and simple explanation of how taxonomies form the backbone of most information architecture. I also noted a couple of good points about how the semantic web won’t run without them – a topic I intend to return to!

Practical Information Architecture

November 3, 2007 9:18 am Published by Leave your thoughts

I have just read Eric L Reiss’ s book Practical Information Architecture (Addison Wesley; 2000). It seemed like a decent and sensible introduction to the subject, but it’s such a fast-moving area something written 7 years ago seems desperately old already. I picked up a few useful tips – for example it’s a bad idea to string several single word hyperlinks together, as people ignore the spaces and punctuation and assume it’s all just one big link and they also tend to ignore very short single-word hyperlinks, presumably because it is hard to guess what extra information the link will... Read more »

Just read the headlines

October 30, 2007 11:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

At UCL David Nicholas gave an interesting lecture on The Virtual Scholar. He pointed out that people are apparently now happy to make major life decisions based on the results they get from typing 1.8 words into Google (the average for a search). The information society is not much good if no-one is actually gaining any real knowledge. Do diminishing attention spans mean that we are happy just to flick through a few headlines that confirm our existing prejudices? It’s an Eddie Izzard joke about being “thinly read” but don’t we still need some people to read more than just... Read more »

Welcome to Vocab Control

October 28, 2007 8:18 am Published by 4 Comments

Welcome to my new blog. I am just starting a Master of Research degree at University College London studying taxonomies. I am now getting pretty good at explaining what they are but I’m not going to do that here. Suffice it to say that if you think I am going to write about stuffed animals or the Inland Revenue, you’re in the wrong place! My first real encounter with taxonomical systems was during the 1990s when I worked as an editor of reference books, working on such titles as the Collins English Dictionary, the Macmillan Encyclopedia, and the Hutchinson Encyclopedia... Read more »