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Thursday, October 09, 2008


According to Lá Nua, Ireland's Minister for Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív kicked off a new site, http://www.logainm.ie/, which provides Irish-language names for some 100, 000 placenames in Ireland. It's pretty good. There's a clickable map (linked to counties), and a “Placename of the Week” feature, which gives a bit of history of each place, as well as a list of similar names, some etymology and, most interesting of all, facsimiles of cartographers' records. There is also meant to be a growing number of sound files so that the user could hear how the names are pronounced.

Aside from all this trifling content-type stuff, it's an interesting site that demonstrates a particular way of conveying a potentially huge, indigested blob of information. Assuming you have a whole lot of files of pics and docs, how do you go about making them available to people who have different reasons for visiting the site? Moreover, it's a bonus when people come looking for one thing and stay to investigate others.

This is the usual problem for public library catalogues and museum guides. Some are very attractive but oddly frustrating as the user finds himself going around in circles trying to get at something. I think you can play around with the layout as long as you like, but you need to have some reasonable theory of how people might use it, and they seem to have done that.



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