Friday, July 29, 2005

Visually Browsing Dewey

I love this! Clever Thom Hickey, OCLC's Chief Scientist blogs about his work (with other clever Research staff, Diane and Lance) on a visual browser to the DDC. It's a prototype right now in ResearchWorks ("things to play and think about").

Instead of getting a list of results, you'll see a colour-coded display of the results that can be drilled down into. From the DeweyBrowser site:

The OCLC Research DeweyBrowser enables you to search and browse collections of library resources organized by the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC). The DeweyBrowser presents search results at three levels, the main summaries. These three summaries correspond to the main structure of Dewey and provide a broad overview of the scheme. The interface provides the option of displaying the summaries in several languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, and Swedish

Our Dewey blogging colleague, Jonathan Furner, an Assistant Editor for the DDC, does a write-up at 025.431: The Dewey Blog .


Anonymous said...

I kind of like this approach; there is certainly benefit to guiding the user through an intellectual structure to arrive at his specific subject. This is what AquaBrowser, Endeca, THeBrain, and others are doing.

What I find objectionable is not the Dui structure - that's fine, but the use of the Dui numbers (3xx, then 33x, then 338 to find books on contracts). The Dewey numbers are eye candy; they add nothing to the retrieval. It's the text categories that are important, not the Dui numbers.

Can't we once and for all shake off those vestiges of the past? Use them behind the scenes, fine. But the public wants books, not numbers.


PS - Isn't "IT'S ALL GOOD" the new advertising tag line for Max and Erma's restaurant?

Thom Hickey said...

Actually we tried doing an interface without the numbers and were surprised how badly it worked. The numbers seem to give you a structure that helps organize the screen for you.

Maybe other DDC interfaces could get along without the class numbers, but not this one.