Data visualization as interface / 2 comments

A recent rereading of Wired’s 2010 article “The Web is Dead” cemented a few thoughts of mine on where design in the online space might be headed. The article claims that our use of the web, meaning content delivered via the http protocol, is being eroded by apps—light-weight, low-cost, task-oriented programs. The article describes this as an effect of the natural progression of technology: as special interests start to take control of a new market it becomes fractured, producing silos that in turn allow more user friendly experiences and drive greater adoption.

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Search: from tool to content platform

There is a shift happening in search. In my last post, I tried to make the case that web content is becoming more decentralized, with aggregators (RSS readers, search engines, and social networks) playing an increasingly large role for the way that we absorb information online, and that this tendency presents new opportunities for the design of information. With this decentralization (or centralization, depending on your perspective), search engines themselves are changing from navigational tools to content platforms.

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Design and the decentralization of web content

Websites are the predominant platform for most of the information we absorb. Of course, the site itself isn’t always the primary vehicle, with RSS having established itself as an alternate form of consumption, and search engines offering a similar yet broader form of aggregation. This has lead to two main content experiences. In one mode, content is presented in context of the full offering, as part of a structural framework reflecting the identity of the source. In the other, content is represented generically and modularly alongside content from other sources.

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