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Search Engine/Portals: Revisiting the Web Brain

From: Karl Hebenstreit, Jr. <karlhjr@home.com>
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2001 10:24:42 -0500
Message-ID: <3AB2303A.194EB622@home.com>
To: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
CC: Jonathan Chetwynd <j.chetwynd@btinternet.com>, EOWG <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>, asgilman@iamdigex.net, paciello@webable.com
I agree with Charles' distinction, but would also like to bring up a couple of related
issues.  If you'll recall the "Visualisation rather than text" thread back in October,
Brian Kelly brought up a site called The WebBrain which provides sort of a hybrid between
the search engine and portal.    There's a new WebBrain 2.0 Beta that's just been
announced this week, so the site should be revisited:
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-ig/2000OctDec/0226.html ,
http://www.webbrain.com

Although I won't be able to attend CSUN this year, I will be going to Infonortics' Search
Engine meeting in Boston April 8-10.  Please visit their website, and contact me if you
are planning to attend, or wants me to raise specific issues:
http://www.infonortics.com/searchengines/index.html

Regarding WebBrain, I've been working with the Personal Brain product rather intensely for
several months now, and it's helped me in contributing to some website redesign projects
(the tool can spider an existing site and help you gather links by audience) as well as
project/time management (I've developed a Brain where "Today" is the central thought).
Since The Brain Technologies company is located in Santa Monica, next week's CSUN
conference would be an ideal opportunity for some of you to meet with them in person and
give some feedback on how The Brain products could be part of assistive technology
solutions.  In particular, I believe that:
1) The Brain could be especially helpful for visually-impaired to manage their
bookmark/favorites
2) The Brain could be part of a solution for people with certain types and degrees of
cognitive impairments, although individual thoughts would need to be associated with
images/symbols and it would likely need to be integrated with some sort of calendaring
program that bring up a reminder (launch a thought at a scheduled time or guide someone
through a multi-step process).  With its associative user interface, the Brain can be used
to model the way a person thinks about and interacts with the world, and properly designed
Brains may be able to significantly reduce the cognitive load of finding documents or
links.  The following paragraph are comments that the developer (Harlan Hugh) gave during
an interview; for the complete article, visit Steve Johnson's "Tomorrow's Desktop" article
at:  http://www.feedmag.com/invent/interface.html

     "When I sit down at my computer (or anyone else's), I want to see a useful
     representation of everything inmy life. The fundamental difference is about
     focusing on the connections between information instead of the separations. All
     my information should be connected in a single interface—e-mail, Web content,
     contacts, documents, and everything. I don't want to use different tools for
     related information just because it's stored in a different place. For instance,
     the way we perceive email as being separate from other data is an artifact of
     building interfaces that expose too much of what's going on 'under the hood.'
     The interface should distinguish information based on its content and not its
     source. Taking this a step further, I'm looking forward to a world where the
     whole concept of  'e-mail'—a special mode of operation where everything is
     viewed based on discrete transactions—is replaced by a much more powerful way of
     viewing and sharing connected information in context. Your screen should not
     look like a bunch of pretty buttons that you use to order your computer from one
     task to the next. Instead it should be a dynamic representation and experience
     of everything that's important to you. I think The Brain demonstrates the
     beginnings of realizing this vision."

Anyone who would like to work with me to help arrange a meeting for The Brain at CSUN is
encouraged to reply.

Thanks,
Karl

mailto:karlhjr@home.com
Phone:  703-370-7415




Charles McCathieNevile wrote:

> For something where you give it a name and it goes and finds you a list of
> links, I use the term "search engine". This is how I think of Google.
>
> For a site where I get a list of choices that leads to a list of choices that
> eventually leads to sites I use the term "portal". This is how I think of
> Yahoo (although Yahoo's site also included a search engine last time I
> looked).
>
> cheers
>
> Chaals
>
> On Fri, 16 Mar 2001, Jonathan Chetwynd wrote:
>
>   Please could someone tell me how to distinguish by name the 2 types of search engine
>   http://www.yahoo.com
>   http://www.google.com
>   the one you type a query in, the other you select keywords.
>   I am in the process of redisigning our homepage.
>   and choosing definitions for this:
>   <meta name="keywords" content="
>   ours is the second type.
>
>   jonathan chetwynd
>   IT teacher (LD)
>   jc@signbrowser.org.uk
>
> --
> Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409 134 136
> W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI    fax: +1 617 258 5999
> Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
> (or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France)
Received on Friday, 16 March 2001 10:24:00 UTC

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