Monday, September 22, 2003

Coffee and social networks

Watching the Open University Cooking Programme on Saturday morning (lying in bed, natch), I discovered the following fascinating fact: both the London Stock Exchange and Lloyd's shipping brokerage developed on the sites of coffee houses. Coffee houses in the 18th Century were renowned for bringing together diverse groups of people and for being places where "anything goes" conversations were accepted. I suppose this neatly ties up the anti-capitalist demonstrators' targeting of Starbucks - but then the French Revolution was fomented in coffee shops too.

Classify that!

A while back I wrote a short posting about the opening of a Dewey Decimal Classified Hotel. Via the pernickety SIGIA poster, Ziya, comes the gem that the Dewey Decimal Classification is not in the public domain, and in true septic fashion, the hotel is being sued. Read the story.

Monday, September 15, 2003

More facets

I've seen a lot of descriptions of facets, but never found a great layman's definition. Last night, I had a flash of inspiration: Top Trumps, the childrens' game, used facets for its comparison categories. If children can get it, surely everyone else can!

Friday, September 12, 2003

Social patterns

Haven't read this in any detail, but on a quick scan through, the PoInter: Patterns of Co-operative Interaction looks like an interesting point of reference for social/collaborative software knowledge. The pros and cons of ethno- methodologies was quite well put.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Facets, get your luver-ly facets

I've been pondering faceted metadata for a while, reading about Ranganathan, bits and bobs on boxes and arrows about implementing it on a site and so on and so forth, and I've reached the stage where I'm a tad blocked on the subject.

Faceted metadata is based around the fact that items share similar facets .i.e.
Diamonds might have an item, Gopal diamond whose facets are

  • colour (value - pink)

  • clarity (value - twinkly)

  • carat (value - 12)

All diamonds will share these facets and can be defined (and therefore organised, browsed and searched) by them.

Maybe it's just me, but - because of this very fact - facets only seem to be useful where there is a great degree of homogeneity between items - i.e. where every item on a site shares pretty much the same facets. This seems to be great for ecommerce sites where an item has a name, price, and other similar attributes ("facets") to it that are reasonably rigid, but not so useful for, say, a corporate site where items might be more heterogenous.

For this reason, certainly for documents, I just wonder whether a more rigid metadata set is better for this sort of site, Dublin Core for instance. I'm just not sure if I'm being short-sighted and have missed a trick somewhere with facets... Maybe I should try and read about topic maps now to cover all the bases.

UPDATE 11 September 2003

Well as an update, it's worth reading Tanya's implementation of facets with Movable Type at her site Pixelcharmer - the only drawback I can see (as with all facets) is that an item can only belong to one topic. This is because facets should be mutually exclusive - but I can think of instances where an article could belong to both "XML" and "CSS" at the same time. Still, it's a very nice job indeed (and partly answers my question)...

Friday, September 05, 2003

I'll be back...

Not a reference to Mr. Schwarzenegger's recent "egging", just a comment that I'm back from a relaxing holiday in the Highlands of Scotland and the Mountain of France. Information-wise, it is interesting to note that France is still a couple of web steps behind the UK in some respects despite (or perhaps because of) its headstart in online information with Minitel (although to be fair, the British did have a dive forward with Teletext/Ceefax as well). Nevertheless, the only time I have worked on a French-based project, I found the Parisian team I worked with to be very switched on. Note to self: I'll try and remember the name of the company and add it on later.