Document (#33199)

Author
Dushay, N.
Title
Visualizing bibliographic metadata : a virtual (book) spine viewer
Source
D-Lib magazine. 10(2004) no.10, x S
Year
2004
Abstract
User interfaces for digital information discovery often require users to click around and read a lot of text in order to find the text they want to read-a process that is often frustrating and tedious. This is exacerbated because of the limited amount of text that can be displayed on a computer screen. To improve the user experience of computer mediated information discovery, information visualization techniques are applied to the digital library context, while retaining traditional information organization concepts. In this article, the "virtual (book) spine" and the virtual spine viewer are introduced. The virtual spine viewer is an application which allows users to visually explore large information spaces or collections while also allowing users to hone in on individual resources of interest. The virtual spine viewer introduced here is an alpha prototype, presented to promote discussion and further work. Information discovery changed radically with the introduction of computerized library access catalogs, the World Wide Web and its search engines, and online bookstores. Yet few instances of these technologies provide a user experience analogous to walking among well-organized, well-stocked bookshelves-which many people find useful as well as pleasurable. To put it another way, many of us have heard or voiced complaints about the paucity of "online browsing"-but what does this really mean? In traditional information spaces such as libraries, often we can move freely among the books and other resources. When we walk among organized, labeled bookshelves, we get a sense of the information space-we take in clues, perhaps unconsciously, as to the scope of the collection, the currency of resources, the frequency of their use, etc. We also enjoy unexpected discoveries such as finding an interesting resource because library staff deliberately located it near similar resources, or because it was miss-shelved, or because we saw it on a bookshelf on the way to the water fountain.
When our experience of information discovery is mediated by a computer, we neither move ourselves nor the monitor. We have only the computer's monitor to view, and the keyboard and/or mouse to manipulate what is displayed there. Computer interfaces often reduce our ability to get a sense of the contents of a library: we don't perceive the scope of the library: its breadth, (the quantity of materials/information), its density (how full the shelves are, how thorough the collection is for individual topics), or the general audience for the materials (e.g., whether the materials are appropriate for middle school students, college professors, etc.). Additionally, many computer interfaces for information discovery require users to scroll through long lists, to click numerous navigational links and to read a lot of text to find the exact text they want to read. Text features of resources are almost always presented alphabetically, and the number of items in these alphabetical lists sometimes can be very long. Alphabetical ordering is certainly an improvement over no ordering, but it generally has no bearing on features with an inherent non-alphabetical ordering (e.g., dates of historical events), nor does it necessarily group similar items together. Alphabetical ordering of resources is analogous to one of the most familiar complaints about dictionaries: sometimes you need to know how to spell a word in order to look up its correct spelling in the dictionary. Some have used technology to replicate the appearance of physical libraries, presenting rooms of bookcases and shelves of book spines in virtual 3D environments. This approach presents a problem, as few book spines can be displayed legibly on a monitor screen. This article examines the role of book spines, call numbers, and other traditional organizational and information discovery concepts, and integrates this knowledge with information visualization techniques to show how computers and monitors can meet or exceed similar information discovery methods. The goal is to tap the unique potentials of current information visualization approaches in order to improve information discovery, offer new services, and most important of all, improve user satisfaction. We need to capitalize on what computers do well while bearing in mind their limitations. The intent is to design GUIs to optimize utility and provide a positive experience for the user.
Footnote
Vgl.: http://dlib.ukoln.ac.uk/dlib/october04/dushay/10dushay.html.
Theme
Visualisierung

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