Flamenco – Second Order Tool

Flamenco is a search interface with “the primary design goal of allowing users to move through large information spaces in a flexible manner without feeling lost.” It is a fine tool with the ability to refine and group the category selections. The user interface does let the user navigate and know where they are in the information. But as a second order tool it organizes information into the categories and sub-categories that the information owner specifies which limits the uses of the information. Look at this example for Frank Lloyd Wright from the UC Berkeley Architecture Visual Resources Library. Since it wasn’t set up with sub-categories more finely grained than by century we can’t explore how Wright’s architecture evolved throughout his life. We can’t search for the buildings that are still standing. We can’t group them by which were destroyed by fire and which by hurricane. Suppose I wanted to explore the building cost vs. how destroyed vs. materials used. If hurricanes destroy wood buildings more often but the cost of rebuilding is less than building a single brick building that can be something a home builder would want to know.

I’m not saying that the second order isn’t useful but imagine how much more could be done with it by letting the users apply their own tags and explore the relationships between those tags.

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