Web Interface — Analysis and Design

This post was an old page which provided a brief analysis and design sketch for the web interface to be provided for the prototype software discussed on these pages.

(As of 2013, I am focusing on speech and facial recognition software instead of web based questionnaire, but what follows may be of some interest anyway.)

Analysis — What’s Required

It has to be interesting.  Fun, if possible.  It has to demonstrate the basic ideas so people have some hope of understanding them. It has to hint strongly at great things to come, to inspire people to look back here again.

That’s all true, but what specific requirements are to be met?  That’s still an open question, but here are a few notes:

  • it has to collect data for offline analysis, (but …)
  • it has to be an online interactive interface that people can get immediate feedback from
  • it has to run mostly on the users own machine, as client-side intensive software, (using Javascript or Java) not on the server side (using Perl or PHP) except where necessary
  • it must demonstrate as much as possible of the prototype software, even those parts hard for people to understand
  • it must provide for people to download and use much of that software on their own machines, and support that use with online explanation and help
  • it has to encourage others to help and provide mechanisms for them to find what they might help with and coordinate their work with others.

(much more analysis is needed, and will follow as soon as possible …)

Design — How to Build It

Most of the design work is yet to be done, and most of what has been done remains entirely in Doug Wilson’s disorganized brain.  Here are some design notes, representing just a small part of that work:

  • ordinary HTML forms will be used, such as the one now on the What Do You Want? page, and the data submitted with these forms will (at least) be mailed for offline processing
  • that data should also be mailed back to the user, not only for confirmation, but so that the user can do some offline processing with downloaded software
  • when possible, data collected by forms should also be processed online to provide more immediate user feedback — this will meaning having online some other data for comparison purposes, either data previously collected, or existing social survey data
  • comparisons can be represented as scattergrams, showing a representative sampling of other user data, possibly resampled, in one colour with the position of the user in that data slice shown as a distinctive other colour
  • as soon as possible some use of existing social survey data for online demos will be provided as a teaching tool, and to explain what we can and will do with user data
  • matching for the various purposes listed in the CASA Proposal and outlined on the original What Do You Want? form will probably have to occur offline
  • the results of bipartite matching will be a suggested match for each person, company, (…group, etc.) with some person (etc.) and this will be communicated in some way to the people or companies involved using some kind of protocol that will allow the interested parties to communicate while remaining anonymous until they learn more about each other
  • as well as online or e-mail suggestions with confidentiality protocol, a real world approach would be to suggest meetings in groups by suggesting times and places for people to meet, where each meeting will include as many mutually-compatible individuals as possible, but without them knowing who may be compatible for what purposes
  • througout this process feedback from the users will be collected with online forms — the exact way in which this feedback will be used is an enormous issue of itself, but in general it will be used with something like the generali
  • as well as matching people, organizations, and other things, as suggested in the CASA Proposal, use of information obtained by spiders about web sites and web pages, together with information about those sites and pages from their owners, can be used with numerical methods for site mapping, mapping the Internet, suggesting useful links, and other purposes that use some of the prototype software but are not matching problems in the usual sense

These are just notes, hardly even the beginning of a design, but they hint at design directions and will be followed by explicit material as it becomes available.   For more information, see the How It Works page , the (still rather sketchy) Web Interface Design page , and  you might also look at the more journal-like record of dealing with the frustrating tools and techniques of web interface programming, on the page about Putting it on the Web .

Copyright © 2000 Douglas P. Wilson

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