Sunday, 3 January 2010

References and Resources

Assignment URLs

The URL for this blog -
My City Website -
My Java Script Application -


Belkin, NJ, Oddy, R & Brooks H, ASK For Information Retrieval - Journal of Documentation (1982)

Boumphrey, F. and Harrison, M. (2000), XML for the Healthcare Executive.

Butterworth, Richard, DITA: Lecture 2 - Digital Representation
Butterworth, Richard, DITA: Lecture 3 - The Internet and the World Wide Web
Butterworth, Richard, DITA: Lecture 6 - Markup and Cascading Style Sheets
- The above lectures can be found on City University's Cityspace VLE at

Chowdury, GG & Sudatta Chowdury, Introduction to Digital Libraries, 2003, London, Facet Publishing

Flanagan, D, Javascript: The Definitive Guide - Fourth Edition, Sebastopol, 2001, O'Reilly Media

Rosenfeld, L & Morville, P, Information architecture for the World Wide Web (2007) (3rd edition), Sebastopol, CA.: O'Reilly

Rutter, R. (2000) Sizzling HTML Jalfrezi

Webmonkey Tutorials - Accessible guides to creating your own website
Webmonkey, HTML
Webmonkey, Javascript

Webopedia: JPG vs GIF vs PNG
Clear information about the three main graphics formats.

W3 Guide to Cascading Style Sheets

Sperberg-McQueen, CM and Burnard, L (2004) Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), A Gentle Introduction to XML

Zen Garden
Inspiring examples of the use of Cascading Style Sheets

Images - Earth Vs the Flying Saucers movie poster

Valentin, Nicolas - Oh Look, There is a Rainbow!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Information Architectures

Information Architecture is the art of organising information in a way that makes it easy for people to use it. In a very real sense it is millenia old, that after all is exactly what Librarians have been trying to do since ancient times. The growth of the Web has given that task a new sense of importance and urgency. It has also given it a new name.

The rise of Information Architecture as a profession raises interesting questions for Librarians. It is arguably just Librarianship in an online environment. Why aren't Information Architects called Web Librarians? (They are sometimes but it isn't the most widely accepted label.) What does that suggest about the image that Librarianship has outside of our profession? On the other hand whatever the job title we should be able to convince people that the study of Library Science gives us the skills to create well organised and easy to use Information Architectures.

The name isn't arbitrary. It is a metaphor which says a lot about the goals and self image of the emerging field of Information Architecture. The idea is that a website needs to be planned and carefully designed in the same way that a conventional architect would design a house or an office building.

The needs of the users need to be carefully considered. No one would build a house without thinking about what it would be like to live in it.

In the past websites have often been allowed to grow slightly haphazardly or they have been designed by people who were focused on form rather than function. Information Architects would argue that that is the equivalent of building a house room by room or letting an interior decorator design it.

Moreville and Rosenfeld point out that bad information architecture puts off customers, wastes employee time and and damage's an organisation's brand image or reputation. (Moreville & Rosenfeld, 2007.)

It is very hard to overestimate the importance of Information Architecture, for businesses, public services, and for each one of us .

Client Side Programming

JavaScript is a programming language that is used for client side programming. This is a technique which speeds up online tasks by getting the client computer (i.e. the computer you are using) to do more of the work. Instead of repeatedly requesting information from the server your computer downloads the information it needs in one go. From your perspective this means that everything runs faster and smoother.

This week's task involved writing a JavaScript program. The aim was to create a program which would ask users if they were interested in news or sports. If they request 'news' they should then be asked which part of the UK they are interested in. If they specify 'sport' they are given a selection of sports to choose from. In all cases they should then be sent to the relevant section of the BBC website.

Information Retrieval

Information can be stored in a huge variety of different places and in a wide range of different forms. It isn't always easy to find the information that you want.

We all need to hone our Information Retrieval skills in order to operate successfully in a world that sometimes seems to be drowning in information; not all of it of very high quality, and very little of it directly relevant to a particular query.

there are a lot of useful tools that we can use to make Information Retrieval easier.

From the users perspective Information Retrieval starts with an information need. The user realises (or at least vaguely thinks) that there is something they need to know. They have what Belkin, Oddy and Brooks call an "Anomalous State of Knowledge'. There is a gap in their understanding which needs to be filled.

Over the last few months there have been several times when I have had an information need related to my work on DITA. My usual first step has been to go back to my lecture notes and see if there is anything in them or the references which will meet my need.

The websites listed in the references are often an excellent starting point for a bit of browsing about a subject. Moving from site to site via hyperlinks can lead to interesting finds and it helps to give me an overview of a particular topic.

Search Engines like Google or Bing are obviously very helpful. I often use Google to locate additional resources to help me complete the lab tasks for this module.

When using search engines for in depth research it is best to use Boolean operators in order to make sure that you locate the most relevant resources. They use Boolean logic to improve the relevancy of the documents retrieved. They allow you to specify in more detail what kind of documents you are interested in. The three most important ones are AND, OR, NOT.

Technology makes finding information much easier. That said it does bring its own challenges. The most important one is not a technical issue. Each individual has to take responsibility for evaluating the quality of the information that they find.

Google will find thousands of documents for us. We can make sure that we phrase our search requests correctly and use Boolean Operators and similar techniques to improve the results that we find. Ultimately however it is up to us, the users, to evaluate the information, and to use it effectively.