navigation for virtual information systems
Finding one's way about is often a social task. An example is the
request for directions in a city that you visit for the first time. Introducing the
concept of social navigation into virtual worlds can make an impact on access to
information. Large information systems such as the World Wide Web can become more
accessible by providing a more natural and fundamentally human form of navigation. This is
especially important given the ever-increasing amount of information published solely on
The PERSONA project is developing applications to support social navigation and four
systems have been produced. One is the Agneta & Frida system, two characters that sit
below the web browser commenting ironically on web pages as the user browses the web.
Another is the Social Navigator, a set of developer tools that allows social navigation
possibilities to be added to net-based applications. A third is the online store, EFOL,
which incorporates various types of social navigation into shopping for food. Finally, the
Navigational Instrument is a computer-based method for evaluating the navigational aspects
of applications early on in the design process.
For companies, such tools can make their web site information and corporate databases
more accessible. Imagine a crowd gathering at a web site to look at a product, asking each
other for directions, asking company employees to explain certain features, etc., and all
the time attracting more people to the site.
Visitors to the PERSONA stand see how social navigation can be introduced to different
applications. Agneta & Frida, the Social Navigator and EFOL are concepts for use in an
application, while the Navigational Instrument is used to evaluate the navigational
aspects of an application at different stages.