Categories
Information Architecture Interaction Interface Meta-data Misc.

BeTagged

(For example,) we wanted a flat filesystem, where you wouldn’t put your files in directories, but you would tag them with keywords, and instead of saying “Open this directory,” you’d say “Open all my email and send it to this person.” In the end we realized that directories are nice and the industry has been using directories for a long time, so it’s almost intuitive. We do have database features in the filesystem, but they’re not as extreme as we first thought.

Cyril Meurillon, Senior Kernel Engineer for the BeOS circa 1998

You can learn more about the BeOS Bible at the publisher’s page.

NetPositive, the default browser for the BeOS, allowed users to attach keywords to bookmarks and create dynamic groupings (Smart Bookmark Folders, essentially) based on these and other metadata such as the title and URL.

Categories
Amazon Information Architecture Interface

Lost in the Amazon

Currently, Amazon URLs are comprised of numeric strings and abbreviations that make them nearly useless for orientation, navigation, and as searchable text. I have no idea how I could manually edit an Amazon URL to move to a different part of the site and just looking at an Amazon link tells me very little about what it points to. Implementation details should be hidden in favor of URLs reflecting the organization of the site content.

Book: Leonardo’s Laptop

Actual URL

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0262692996/qid=1123055365/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/103-7263804-2294218

This gives me the ISBN, which isn’t of much use unless you have a memory for such things.

People-Friendly URL

http://www.amazon.com/Books/Computers+Internet/General/Leonardo's-Laptop/

This gives me the media type, the category & sub-category, and the title of the book. Usability testing would show what characters would be best used in place of spaces, colons, ampersands, etc.

DVD: The Prisoner, Set 1

Actual URL

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00004Y7DZ/qid=1123140506/sr=1-10/ref=sr_1_10/103-7263804-2294218?v=glance&s=dvd

People-Friendly URL

http://www.amazon.com/DVD/Television/Classic-TV/The-Prisoner-Set-1/

The actual URL indicates only the media type; no genre, no item name.

The Prisoner is the basis for “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes”, the Simpson’s episode (season 12, episode 6) in which Homer is abducted and imprisoned as Number 5 on an island where he is repeatedly drugged, involuntarily and otherwise.

Given Amazon’s breadth and depth, I’m sure setting up a clean URL scheme would be a big project. That is why programmers are paid big bucks!