Re: Indexing Online Books: Cost Effective?

Subject: Re: Indexing Online Books: Cost Effective?
From: Stephen Bernhardt <sbernhar -at- NMSU -dot- EDU>
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 1993 09:32:41 -0700

Helena below is right on--the spaciousness of hyprtext allows us to offer
the user multiple points of entry and multiple and redundant pointers
toward the structure of the text. Keyword indexes with dynamic links
provide a powerful navigational tool, as do menu structures with a level
or two of embedding. Also, grphical browsers, with the structure of the
whole and the relationship of parts to whole displayed, can be invaluable
in helping users understand the hypertext and move about comfortably.
Redundancy is desirable, as in all uses of language and semiotic systems.
Redundancy is what backchannels information to us to confirm that we
understand the language event. It is the eigth bit.

steve > >
> > In hypertext (assuming the hypertext is well designed) this alternative
> > reading approach is available through the links. Relations between topics
> > are "links" in hypertext. An index becomes redundant and, I would argue
> > unnecessary. (Though a user must be presented with choices allowing
> > himself or herself an access point to the information sought)
> >
> >

> I have to completely disagree with this statement. While hypertext links
> provide useful paths *through* online information, the can never replace
> the point-of-entry links that an extensive index and other content lists
> allow. Points of entry to specific topics are *never* redundant in an
> online hypertext system, it makes the system easier to navigate, easier
> to comprehend as an information delivery medium, it gives the reader an idea
> of the topics covered and how extensive the system is, and it makes it
> more usable. In short, it provides users with cues that they do not get
> otherwise with online systems. With printed documentation there are a number
> of ways to find out this type of information visually (how thick the book
> is, the type of cover, the layout of the page, the TOC and Index,
> leafing through, headers and footers, etc etc etc).

> Although in theory a hypertext system may take the user through the
> they need, in practice users need control of where they want to go and
> an understanding of how to get there and of where they are. An online
> documentation set simply cannot survive without multiple point of entry
> tools as well as strong navigation tools. Full test search helps, but
> never replaces the user being able to make a choice from a list that gives
> them some idea about the content and from lists that reflect the structure
> of the document.

> Helena Jerney

> Stephen A. Bernhardt >
> Department of English, Box 3E >
> New Mexico State University >
> Las Cruces, NM 88003 >
> 505-646-2027 FAX 505-646-7725 >
> e-mail sbernhar -at- nmsu -dot- edu >

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