Tuesday, March 08, 2005

New Visualization Tools and the Open Directory

Katie Gordon

MIT 026b Lab
Tuesday March 8, 2005
New Visualization Tools
I found the best visualization tool out of the sites provided for us to be http://kartoo.com. I liked this the best because the design of it is very colourful, but not too overwhelming. It is also helpful because you can clearly see the many paths your search took and what key words and phrases are associated with it. It is very simple to see which step you would like to take next within your search because of the lines connected different key words associated with your search. There are not too many sites given to you at one time, so it is easier to sift through. Also, it is very easy to see which results have nothing to do with what you are looking for because of the key words listed underneath them. While using kartoo.com, it is easy also, for the user to find the best results and also becuase of the key words being used to describe the websites provided through the search. One of the best features of the tool is that although there are enough graphics to make it easy for you to search clearly and simply, and also to keep the interest of the user, these graphics do not become too overwhelming or distracting as some of the other sites.
I found the tool I liked the least while of the list provided was Touchgraph. I found this because, althought it gives a great deal of results, there are TOO MANY results. It becomes overwhelming to the user to have to try to sift through the 100 or more results that are provided. How the graph branches off can sometimes seem rather random, since eventually, results for www.w3c.org about websites and information and the internet can somehow turn into results about a safari. The graph itself is also overwhelming. I found myself getting caught up in the ability to move the graph around and the fact that there are so many results and branches coming off the graph. While the fact that you are able to display the summary of the website as well as the link to the website separately is helpful and keeps things organized, I found this tool to be too much of a good thing.
The Open Directory
The Open Directory was more beneficial than Google in the sense that when you first search, it gives you a great deal of results and then allows you to branch off into other directions with your search by selecting a certain category, such as something like what the term you've searched for has to do with social science. The results all seem very good and the best of the best and they seem to just keep on coming and it is very easy to find the subject category for what you are looking for, which is helpful because it also helps you to weed out the bad results by seeing that the categories do not match what you are looking for. However, the one disadvantage with the Open Directory, especially when compared to Google, is that because you can just keep selecting different categories and such, you get such a great amount of results, all of which seem to be important, that sometimes it can get to be a bit much. Users are never overwhelmed by results from Google and it seems friendlier. Also with Google, since it is automated and not truly controlled by humans, it is easy to see that it is updated A LOT and is reliable in the sense that it tends not to miss results. Though the disadvantage of this is that there are more useless results, which in turn is the main benefit to the Open Directory, that humans have been able to weed out the useless results. However, this in itself can be not so helpful in the sense that the people running it can miss results that may seem unimportant to them but are important to you. Though, one cannot deny the benefit of the directory being able to search through many search engines, not only Google.


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