[tdwg] Interesting example of tree navigation

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Fri Sep 14 08:45:05 CEST 2007

Much as I think interfaces like this are way kewl, I think it is  
revealing that nobody has successfully applied this sort of approach  
to browsing the large hierarchy that many of us interact with on a  
daily basis - the file system on our computer.  Those efforts that  
have been made have not caught on (remember the flyby navigation in  
Jurassic Park? - http://www.slipups.com/items/2786.html ).

In the same way, there have been a slew of attempts to display search  
engine results in forms other than Google's list of top hits, but  
none have caught on -- people know how to interpret lists, but often  
struggle with graphical displays of information, much to the chagrin  
of the people who make cool interfaces.

Much as I think EoL might indeed make a splash with something like  
this, it will be empty unless it actually helps people find things  
without getting lost. In the same way, I thought the tree navigation  
shown in the EoL release video was perhaps the worst possible way of  
doing things, ignoring pretty much everything people have written  
about navigating in large trees.



On 14 Sep 2007, at 03:52, Rebecca Shapley wrote:

> My guess -
> a) there aren't many information sets that are difficult enough to  
> present in standard ways AND benefit from this type of presentation
> b) there haven't been enough of (a) with the programmers/money/ 
> willingness to try something novel
> c) some concern over limiting the audience for the info, because it  
> requires Flash or some other plug-in. Potentially a high bar in  
> terms of browser capability, internet connection, etc. Or because  
> Flash isn't open-source.
> To get around (c), I'd take this implementation as a spec for the  
> desired interaction behavior and see if it can be done in any other  
> more acceptable technology, OR if it can be primarily Flash-based,  
> but also degrade to something acceptable for older browsers.
> No reason the EOL project can't make a splash with something as  
> exciting as this.
> -R.
> On 9/13/07, Richard Pyle < deepreef at bishopmuseum.org> wrote:
> > As Rod suggested, this is pretty old news.
> This begs the question:  has this style of user-interface failed to  
> catch on
> more widely because of:
> 1) Technological limitations;
> 2) Insufficient creativity and inspiration; or
> 3) Insufficient usability?
> I'm tempted to eliminate #3 on the grounds that I don't think this  
> style of
> UI has been widespread enough to have been subjected to, and then  
> failed,
> some sort of usability meta-experiment.
> This is not to say that it won't ultimately fail such a meta- 
> experiment --
> just that it hasn't really had a chance to fail it yet.
> Rich
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Professor Roderic D. M. Page
Editor, Systematic Biology
Graham Kerr Building
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QP
United Kingdom

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