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Facets April 1, 2008

Posted by Mia in FRBR, Frontiers.
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Facets are for everyone, not just power users (see wordtools discussion on ngc4lib). Facets should reveal clusters (aspects of things which have been collocated due to their “like-ness”) which a priori could not be articulated (or simply were not articulated) in advance. Power users are also novice searchers when they are in unfamiliar or new domains.

Humans recognize like things. The example Karen mentioned about everyone named “Mia” (admittedly, I rather liked this example) getting indexed along with “Manila International Airport” is of course mixing persons with airports. But what if the system instead returned known clusters in predetermined facets, for sake of argument, the facets “airports” and “persons”, with some kind of heuristics e.g. “more like this?”

Facets should enable the user to recognize some familiar elements in what could possibly be (doesn’t need to be, though) an unfamiliar landscape. They are an orientation device that helps you navigate in the space. If I’m “in too close” to a term and lack sufficient context to recognize any familiar part of the landscape, I should be able to telescope out to a higher level of abstraction until I reach some level (facet) that I do recognize. Maybe I won’t recognize it until I reach the “animal-vegetable-mineral” level; so be it.

For me, not employing facets is kind of like not having enough pixels on the screen sufficient to resolve into a recognizable image. I can’t “see” where I am in the landscape.

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