The incredible shrinking directory.
If, a bit over a year ago, I noted that it was
becoming more and more difficult to find the Yahoo! directory on the Yahoo! main
page, as of this writing, it seems to take up only about 20% of its
own page. At this rate, in a few years it may totally disappear.
actually, if that were to happen, there really wouldn't be anything strange about
it. Though catalogues and directories were once, long ago, feasible tools for
giving us access to web pages that we may have wanted to find, for more than a
couple of years it's been quite evident that they can't actually do the job. There
are simply too many pages out there, too many different categories into which
those pages might be catalogued (not to mention that most pages can't be compartmentalized
into only one category but instead would have to be cross-referenced at least
a few times). Unless they became very specialized and focused on a limited topic,
catalogues had no choice than to capitulate to the dominance of search engines.
Catalogues, however, offered excellent examples of hierarchical linking. In what
I ordinarily refer to as the Babushka doll method of organzing information, even
if it took us an excessive number of clicks in order to finally get to the information
we sought, we knew that an online catalogue such as Yahoo! offered us a logical
path to that information. And in the process, we reinforced our conception of
the World Wide Web as being somehow, in some intangible manner, an organized entity.
Search engines, on the other hand, gave us links that were stripped
of any connotation - hierarchical or associative. When we encountered links
from the results page of a search engine to a page that contained the term we
sought, these were no-frills-attached, bare-bones links that hinted neither at
an underlying structure or at some idiosyncratic thinking process we had to decipher
in order to understand where we might be headed. If at
some earlier period of internet time web surfers ever thought that links carried
with them some additional information pertaining to how we perceived that information,
search engines probably played a significant role in making such a thought a
thing of the past.
Go to: Dr.
Hierarchy and Mr. Associative