Search, Facet, and Filtering Examples

Konigi is a User Experience Design site that features interesting interfaces, with a handful of features on searches, filtering, and faceted navigation.

A couple of sites they’ve featured:, my favorite travel search interface

FanSnap, an event ticket site

Also, Cookstr is a recipe site that has a ton of interesting facets once you search or click a category: cuisine, cost, dietary considerations, kid friendly, holiday… Much cleaner and easier to use than other recipe sites I’ve played with.

Doesn’t it just make you happy when a company gets search right?

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Taxonomy of Philosophy

Weinberger links to this intriguing attempt to categorize philosophical papers for a system to “access online work in philosophy.”  

The best part is the discussion that follows David Chalmers’ blog post about the project, which sends me through a microcosm of the 202 course so far.  One commenter links to “An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language” in which John Wilkins attempts to create a language where every word defines itself based on a hierarchy of 40 Genuses (each divided into Differences and then Species) of his design.  The Wikipedia article points me to Borges’ response, “The Analytical Language of John Wilkins”, where he casts doubt on such universal categorization schemes by comparison to The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge.  Other commenters on the blog post point out similar problems: a separate set of categories for the history of philosophy seems strange since many of these papers are relevant to the philosophical topics themselves; there seem to be “multiple principles of division“.

One of the author’s of the philosophy taxonomy responds with a return to pragmatism:

OK, it’s a pseudo-taxonomy, or maybe just a category scheme. We’re not doing science here, just trying to come up with something useful and convenient.

Excellent.  We all know that classification systems should be judged by their usefulness rather than how essential their representations of the world are.

Finally, the other author of the taxonomy argues for the values of faceted classification:

our system allows massive cross-classification both of papers and categories: any paper or category can be in multiple categories. This allows us to cut the pie in many ways at once, and we hope that people will generally be able to find what they are looking for following their intuitive way of cutting the pie (along periods, figures, views, points of disagreement, etc).

Though if he is attempting to cut the pie in many different ways at once, I would think he would want explicitly orthogonal classifications, rather than one enormous tree.

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A Dogma of Categorization

In determining facets or categories for a set of objects, we might tend to think that some facets are better than others because they are more inherently essential to a particular set of objects.  I believe this is a dogma we should be careful to avoid and as a result I argue that we can only be pragmatic in evaluating ontologies.

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