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Google adopted 3 different methodologies to index and present its news stories:
1) The Standard Version, which presents news stories according to their relative importance and freshness, together with one representative thumbnail sketch linked to a random publication that carries the story;
2) The Text Version, which presents news stories according to their relative importance and freshness in plain text, without any images; and
3) Image Version, which presents news stories according to their relative importance and freshness but indexed to all the images linked to the stories. The dynamic news band on the right automatically shifts and displays the title and the first paragraph of the story that the image you select by hovering your cursor above it.
Every index image also has a link to all the other images hiding behind that story. If you click it you are taken to yet another image window which is devoted to all the images ONLY on that specific news story. It is interesting the way Google allows you to drill deeper into the different versions of the same story through image links.
Here is the first layer of visual indexing (click on the images for a LARGER view):
If you click an image, you are taken to the second layer devoted only a single story:
You can search with keywords (technical writing, in this case):
For a tighter search, you can put quotation marks around your keywords (“technical writing”):
The Washington Post Version
This is similar to the TimeSpace flash presentation adopted by The Washington Post to present news stories as linked to geographical locations on a world map, and presented on a user-modifiable time-band at the bottom. The Post solved the text-vs-image issue by presenting different “text” and “photo” balloons all linked to the news items in question.
If you know how to program in Ajax or Flash, you can develop similar interfaces for similar technical communication projects.
Here is a project suggestion:
Develop a visual index of books in a library by their topic categories. When the user clicks one image, present a sub-set of images representing the sub-categories, which when clicked might display the thumbnail images of the covers of all books in that sub-category.
When the cursor hovers above the thumbnail, we should be able to see not only the meta information about the book (including whether it’s checked out or not) but also its location in the library and how one can get there. How about the librarian or the reader reviews? A list of resources related to the book like a list of DVDs, CDs, museums, schools, online web sites, etc.?