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Faceted categorisation for the corporate desktop: visualisation and interaction using metadata to enhance user experience

Mark Stapleton and Matt Adamson began their presentation by describing how Dow Jones' Factiva range of information services processed an average of 170,000 documents every day, drawn from over 10,000 sources in 22 languages. These documents are categorized within five facets: Company, Subject, Industry, Region and Language. The digital feeds received from information providers undergo a series of processing stages, initially to prepare them for automatic categorization and then to format them ready for distribution. The categorization stage is able to handle 98% of documents automatically, the remaining 2% requiring some form of human intervention. Depending on the source, categorization can involve any combination of 'Autocoding', 'Dictionary-based Categorizing', 'Rules-based Coding' or 'Manual Coding'.

Matt described how the output from the source processing is presented differently in three different products for different user groups. One group comprises information intermediaries such as librarians, who conduct research using a variety of business information products as their primary function, and who support a number of departments. A second group consists of individuals whose primary function is not research, but who nevertheless need ready access to quality, up-to-date information in order to make decisions. A third group comprises those who need to know what is happening, although not necessarily in great detail, and who expect information to be available when they need it.

The Factiva delivery platform offers a number of innovative capabilities, including alert, search, monitor, cluster, discovery and analytics. A search can start with any of the five facets offered by the interface. Matt provided a simulation of a search starting with his own company, Dow Jones, illustrating how further basic information on each item in the result set was available via a pop-up window. For information intermediaries, Factiva's interface focuses on supporting the construction of complex queries, but for the second group of users, the emphasis is on the presentation of results in order to provide additional context and aid exploration and discovery. The conventional listing is enhanced by brief abstracts and enriched through the display of statistical summaries in chart form, together with graphical links leading to related information items tagged under other facets. For the third user group, information is provided to individuals by various 'push' technologies according to their interest profile.

Mark concluded the presentation by describing how Factiva need to ensure their products continually evolve in order to meet changing user expectations. He quoted from a Gartner report which highlighted how the knowledge worker of the near future will require to build his/her own custom 'portal' aggregating and personalizing a variety of sources and services. The role of the centralized information source would be eroded by increasing reliance on user communities, while a move to user-centric rather than technology-centric workflow and increasing use of consumer technologies such as social computing in the workplace would create a radically different working environment.

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