[tdwg] Interesting example of tree navigation

Donat Agosti agosti at amnh.org
Fri Sep 14 09:47:55 CEST 2007

May be a reason why few people use these nice tools is, that you do not get
a lot out of them. And this might also explain, why such highly unstructured
initiatives like Wikipedia or ecoport are flourishing. They have content,
and to some extent, individuals can add more to it, and thus feel to be part
of the initative, and get used to know where and how they can find their






From: tdwg-bounces at lists.tdwg.org [mailto:tdwg-bounces at lists.tdwg.org] On
Behalf Of Roderic Page
Sent: Friday, September 14, 2007 8:45 AM
To: Rebecca Shapley
Cc: Bob Morris; tdwg at lists.tdwg.org; Denise Green; bmishler at berkeley.edu
Subject: Re: [tdwg] Interesting example of tree navigation


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


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


On 9/13/07, Richard Pyle < <mailto:deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>
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.


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