We spend most of our time online searching for information. This is not surprising, since the Web is a vast sea of information, where finding exactly what you are looking for is not easy. But why is it that when we find something on one site it is still not easy to find it on another? Say you found a Harry Potter book on Barnes and Noble, why is it still hard to find the same item on other sites like Amazon and Powells? Why is search a one time deal?
We are used to a Web where each site has its own copy of the information. Each web site is a silo. But that does not need to be the case. If web sites agree on how to represent things like books, music, movies, travel destinations and gadgets, then we would spend a lot less time searching. Imagine that the URL for the Harry Potter Goblet of Fire book is this:
In other words, if there was a standard way to turn things into URLs, then finding information would be a lot easier.
From Standard URLs – Proposal for a Web with Less Search at the Read/Write Web
Hype about Web 2.0 is making web firms neglect the basics of good design, web usability guru Jakob Nielsen has said. He warned that the rush to make webpages more dynamic often meant users were badly served. He said sites peppered with personalisation tools were in danger of resembling the “glossy but useless” sites at the height of the dotcom boom.
Read this item from the BBC and commentary from the Read/Write Web. Contribute your knowledge of usability-guru Jakob Nielson to the Whats New Media Wiki.
Scientific research conducted by Walker Reading Technologies, a small Minnesota startup that has been studying our ability to read for the last ten years, has concluded that the natural field of focus for our eyes is circular, so our eyes view the printed page as if we’re peering through a straw. And a very bad-behaving straw at that, because not only do our eyes feed our brain the words we’re reading, they’re also uploading characters and words from the two sentences above and below the line we’re reading. Every time we read block text, we’re forcing our brain to a wage a constant subconscious battle with itself to filter and discard the superfluous inputs. This mental tug of war slows reading speed and diminishes comprehension.
Read this item from Venture Beat. Commentary from MetaFilter and an examination of just how much textual information we consume each day from the Read/Write Web.
The information flows online are almost inherently chaotic, but let me try to boil down the swirl of information into three types. This classification will play off the familiar notion of peer-to-peer networks – P2P – in which (usually) widely dispersed ad hoc networks contributes bandwidth to meet computing needs.
• People-to-people – the ocean of emails, IMs, and text-messages that flow around the globe daily. Some of this is just chatter, but a lot of these emails are information-exchanges that matter a lot to people doing the chatting.
• People-to-amateurs – Harvard’s Law School’s Terry Fisher has talked about the revival of amateurism due to the internet. Shockingly enough, people without credentials and with interest in a particular topic can make their knowledge available – usually for free – over the internet. The quality of the offerings of amateurs often rivals that of experts.
• People-to-experts – people with formal training – anyone from doctors to mechanics – can and do offer their expertise to the world online. Again, this is often for free. They do this for free because it brings them reputational benefits.
Excerpt from What does user behavior tell us about the right way to reach people?, (pdf) remarks from John B. Horrigan on behalf of the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
The big idea in OpenID is providing a decentralized single sign-on platform. Single sign-on is not a new notion however. Almost all the internet giants, like Yahoo, Google and MSN, use single sign-on across their properties to lower the threshold of accessing their services and to create a competitive advantage. The reason they do this is that signing up is actually a big barrier to entry for users of web apps. Users feel more comfortable when they don’t have to sign up to use an app – it’s much easier to give it a try and it’s less time-consuming to start using it.
Read more on ID systems, single sign-on, and their relevance to new media businesses at the Read/Write Web. Previously from WNM: Defining, describing “Identity Management” and Identity tools: OpenID. Claim ID.