Dave Megginson's strange creations

According to this report, my talk at XML 2003 this morning was "trippier than expected." I like that! However, mine couldn't have been the trippiest. That honor goes to Dave Megginson for his talk entitled "Strange Creations: Prototyping XML Data on the Desktop." With tongue firmly in cheek, he explored a variety of experimental ways to view and interact with XML data. The one that brought the house down worked like a text-based adventure game. "You are in a dark room called PubXS document. You can go north, south, east, or west."

Here's a QuickTime clip for your enjoyment. I wasn't in position to get a clear shot of the screen, but hopefully the spirited narrative will carry the day.

Although it's not an interface most of us would choose, the adventure game really does work on real data, and it scores points for discoverability. Anyone could use it to navigate -- albeit slowly -- through a collection of linked XML documents.

After showing a tree-control-oriented navigator, Dave concluded with a table-oriented viewer that absorbs structure and flattens it for viewing and navigation. He thinks this approach may be optimal in many cases -- which is good news for Excel 2003, which does a great job of pulling XML data into spreadsheets for viewing and navigation.

Here's the quote I want Google to find:

I want to see a lot of machine-processable and linked data online, because that's what wins in the end. It doesn't matter if it's RDF or topic maps or PubXS [ed: the system he was demonstrating].
Amen. As Dave pointed out, the formats that tend to succeed are those optimized more for humans than for machines -- he mentioned HTML and RSS as examples. An adventure game is a fanciful way of making a serious point: people are the creators of that linked and machine-processable data, and it has to be fun, easy, and rewarding to create it.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2003/12/09.html#a863