[tdwg] Interesting example of tree navigation

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Fri Sep 14 10:27:12 CEST 2007

What I like about it has nothing to do with the actul data they displayed,
or even exactly how they displayed it, per se.  What I  like is:

- The idea that the field of available information is greater than what you
see on the window itself -- that you can zoom in and out, and pan around.
It gives the impression of a literal window on a much larger world, rather
than a confining box with too much information crammed into it.

- The thumbnail tiles which, when zoomed out, give the appearance of a
mosaic, but when zoomed in reveal that each tile is the portal to a whole
new world (unlike on the page in question, I would imagine that each tile
would open up another pattern of tiles within it). If it scaled
appropriately, it could really help give the impression of where any given
critter fits in the larger context of biodiversity.  I could imagine one
level where there are dozens of tiles, with all of chordata being only one
small bit off in the corner -- and a proportional number of tiles for
single-cell organisms vs. multicellular, and so on.  I see great potential
for giving people a visual "feel" for what biodiversity means.  I can also
imagine a bunch of empty tiles (maybe a faint "?" mark) representing the
guestimated proportion of species not-yet described, with less than 10% with
content -- again to give a sense.  And maybe another view that contrasts
extant organisms to extinct. And so on...

- The mouse acting like a magnifying glass.  I would prefer it to behave
more like the taskbar on the bottom of an OS-X Mac, but the point is you can
scan the big picture, and by simply moving your mouse soom in for a closer
look at the bits that seem interesting to you -- with context-sensitive
pop-ups in appropriate places.

There are other things I like about it as well, but in a word, I found it
"engaging" -- exactly the sort of thing we need to capture the imagination
of the people who select our leaders and policymakers.

Maybe it's not original, and maybe the technology isn't quite there yet.
But I still like it -- both for the "kewl" factor, and more importantly the
way it draws me in to the subject while allowing me to keep a sense of the
broader perspective.



	From: tdwg-bounces at lists.tdwg.org
[mailto:tdwg-bounces at lists.tdwg.org] On Behalf Of Donald Hobern
	Sent: Thursday, September 13, 2007 9:58 PM
	To: Donat Agosti
	Cc: tdwg at lists.tdwg.org; 'Bob Morris'; 'Denise Green';
bmishler at berkeley.edu
	Subject: Re: [tdwg] Interesting example of tree navigation
	In the case of this particular tool (once I found that what I was
seeing in my instance of Firefox was missing something others were seeing
and tried it in Safari), the value seems very minimal to me.  The actual
tree being browsed is rather small and not really needing such a fancy
interface.  More importantly the rescaling of text only seems to affect the
item you are currently inspecting rather than the children of that item.  If
the children too were enlarged, it could be a tool which made it easier to
select the next level in a navigation.  As it is, you still have to track
(frequently kinked) lines to find the small-text children.
	Donat Agosti wrote: 

		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 stuff.



				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 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
		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.

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