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Competitive Exploration

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 6 months ago

Competitive Exploration

(what already exists in the wild, that can be used to illustrate or inform our designs)


I want to stress that this exploration is not looking for open source tools we can use; it is looking at anything that can provide an interesting example of a capability.


Databases are a dime a dozen (okay, maybe not; there are only a couple we could reasonably use); special mention must be made of FreeBase. I note another database, with a different design: Lucid


Being able to associate two fragments can look a lot like HTML, and traversing links can look a lot like browsing the web. I'm thinking we don't want to follow that path. The association interface will be explored more under other Use Cases (TBD). However, here are a few notes for now (to be moved, most likely, later):



  • Relation Browser - uses big bubbles for main items and little bubbles to label connections. In this use case, the little bubbles are static, but they could easily be editable, definable, and expandable (like tags, for instance; though the prime tag interface, Del.icio.us, does tags fine but doesn't show relationships).


  • TouchGraph Technology and TouchGraph Google - a nice enough presentation providing color coding by domains, scaling of bubbles (to reflect "importance" but could be any filter), browsing a dynamic graph, etc. Doesn't provide tagged links.


  • Nonlinear Magnification - A bit of an aside, but nonlinear magnification might be a useful tool to help navigate cluttered association graphs.


  • The prime example of association graphs that will be familiar to programmers is the Finite State Graph (or your UML graph of choice)


Far too many example of attaching commentary can be found in blogs and forums everywhere, but these are probably better as counter-examples.


Note that there are other areas where the authors struggle to create links between associated information and commentary. MakeZine uses tags and sidebar links, plus accumulates lists of related links after each article, trying to keep the projects tied together. Instructables does essentially the same thing, listing related projects in a sidear. Both of these drop a list of forum commentary after the project (as does darn near every other website on the planet).


Viewing documents over time can look a lot like file differencing; however, Perforce has some amazing tools to view changes in files over time. Here are a few examples of diffing/time lapse:



  • Perforce Merge - the lead-in page on their merge tool (which has a colorful diff)



Tracking changes -- branches and merges -- is a form of watching a document over time, but different. Here is the Perforce revision graph flash movie, on that particular topic.



Of course, we should look at existing budget/legislation systems if we can, such as (via Kevin Jones):


  • Reports, screens, etc. from companies like Texas Legislative Services, which provides legislative monitoring in Austin and at least eight other states, would be key. These services exist on the state and the national level.


  • Sitting with a client who uses that software from those services would be instructive.




An excellent discussion and proposal around communication with congress:



Another excellent discussion of social network structuring:


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