Old research systems

A couple of sites running software I developed in the early 2000s

CoFIND – a development of my PhD work that used tag clouds before tag clouds had a name, and fuzzy tags before I had a name for them (here called ‘qualities’). This is not the version that sprang directly from the PhD and is less radical than some of the earlier versions but (I think you will find surprisingly, because it is a dreadful interface) it is a bit more usable. Sadly, the earlier versions used a version of ASP that is no longer supported or supportable, but you can read about it in my PhD thesis. This version uses a range of self-organizing mechanisms (mainly based on evolutionary and stigmergic concepts) and social navigation techniques to organize a set of bookmarks into topics and, more importantly, with fuzzy tags (qualities) that allow you to make value statements about, as well as to categorize resources. Older versions used a sliding scale for this, but this version just lets you agree or disagree about particular values (qualities), thus changing their weighting. Resources themselves are (quaintly) displayed in a frame, so that you can assign qualities to them while looking at them.

Dwellings – an attempt to apply Jane Jacobs’s principles of city design to a web site. Technologically inept and far out of date by today’s standards, and it never scaled beyond a handful of users, but I still like the idea. As well as attempting to mimic city dynamics, it makes a lot of intentional use of stigmergy so that the aggregated behaviour of individuals influences and changes the behaviour of those that follow. The idea is that you are represented by an avatar that you drag along pavements, leaving footprints (that fade) as you go. If you want to chat with someone else, you need to move near them. If you want to see the contents of ‘buildings’ you must drag your avatar next to them. You can also leave persistent graffiti on those buildings. You can create and connect new streets, and you can (if allowed by the street owner) add websites to the empty lots on a street. It’s kind of a cross between a wiki and a MOO, with self-organizing features.

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