19 September 2006

Linktext and heraldic barcodes on the yahoo zodiac

the text of any webpage
can be represented as a star
on the yahoo zodiac

and each possible
sequence of words
chosen to accompany
a link to that page

(ie, the linktext)

can also be represented
as stars

now a visitor to that page

after having evaluated it

could theoretically color 'green'
those examples of possible linktext
that describe what she liked
about the page

red what she didn't like
and yellow if her feelings were mixed

and she could then
rank those possibilities
by importance to her
at that moment

so when a web author
wishes to choose linktext
to link a given page

in theory
she should scan those hypothetical rankings
from all her intended audience
top down
to find the highest rated linktext
that's short enough for the context
of her linking page

now if we could analyse
the possible linktext rankings
for all possible links

we should notice clusters

that describe variations
in some particular qualities

'long' or 'short' for document length
'lively' or 'dull' for writing quality
'credible' or 'doubtful' for research quality

and these meta-clusters
might be loosely ranked
for how important they generally are

(perhaps with asterisks
specifying conditions
when they'll become specially
important, or not)

the goal of
what i've been calling
heraldic barcodes

is to graphically map
the most important meta-clusters
onto an icon

so, eg document-length
might be a bar along one edge
that's mostly black for short docs
mostly white for long ones

while writing quality might supply
the color-saturation
of the icon's background
grey for dull, bright for lively


with these mappings
chosen by design
to be intuitive-to-remember

and to 'foreground'
the most important values

which alas
are not eternal and unchanging

but rather ever-evolving
in response to changing human needs
and expectations

even allowing
custom mappings
for the custom needs
of a particular group of customers

for the same principles apply
not just to webpage linktext

but to any content-set

eg flickrpix
news stories
news pix
audio files
video files

all of which have
within many different contexts
identifiable value meta-clusters

that cry out for well-designed
heraldic barcodes