Jonathan, I, too, like the use of facets. I wish we could do something a
bit more "zing" with them, like present them as word clouds or something
a bit more appealing than "term (number)" but I think the basic data is
Facets, as we use them, though, function as set *narrowing* tools.
That's very useful when you have a large set, but I'd like to see
another function that leads users to nearby areas -- this obviously
invokes the idea of topic maps. although I have to admit that topic maps
don't always seem very provocative. There's probably some way that we
could do them better.
I do think that both facets and topic maps may work better using
FAST-type headings rather than full LCSH pre-coordinated subject
headings. That FAST is derived from LCSH (rather than being developed
specifically as a faceted classification) probably makes it something of
an under-performer, but the related subjects that appear on the Open
Library subject pages give a clue as to how something like this might
work. I'd love to see more experimentation in this direction.
On 9/20/12 12:55 PM, Jonathan Rochkind wrote:
> On 9/20/2012 1:39 PM, Karen Coyle wrote:
>> So, given this, and given that in a decent-sized catalog users regularly
>> retrieve hundreds or thousands of items, what is the best way to help
>> them "grok" that set given that the number of records is too large for
>> the user to look at them one-by-one to make a decision? Can the fact
>> that the data is in a database help users get a "feel" for what they
>> have retrieved without having to look at every record?
> I've often felt that, if it can be properly presented, facets are a
> really great way to do this. Facets (with hit counts next to every
> value) give you a 'profile' of a result set that is too large for you
> to get a sense of otherwise, they give you a sort of descriptive
> statistical summary of it.
> When the facets are 'actionable', as they are usually, they also let
> you then drill down to particular aspects of the giant result set you
> are interested in, and get a _different_ 2.5 screens of results you'll
> look at.
> Of course, library studies also often show that our users don't use
> the facets, heh. But there are a few conflicting studies that shows
> they are used a significant minority of the time. I think it may have
> to do with UI issues of how the facets are presented.
> It's also important to remember that it doesn't neccesarily represent
> a failure if the user's don't engage with the results beyond the first
> 2.5 screens -- it may mean they got what they wanted/needed in those
> first 2.5 screens.
> And likewise, that it's okay for us libraries to develop features
> which are used only by significant minorities of our users (important
> to remember what our logs show is really significant minorities of
> _uses_. All users using a feature 1% of the time can show up the same
> as 1% of users using a feature 100% of the time). We are not lowest
> common denominator, while we need to make our interfaces _usable_ by
> everyone (lowest common denominator perhaps), it's part of our mission
> to provide functionality in those interfaces for especially
> sophisticated uses that won't be used by everyone all the time.
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