Search is a complex process, but the Search function in eReaders is still fairly primitive. Studies of readers performing research show that the goal can change several times as the reader thinks through their question. It may be a quick search for an idea they know is in a book. Or it can be multi-faceted process where the reader learns more, broadens their interest, decides to use a different term instead, finds out new information or terms to try, or narrows to focus on a facet. We don’t know what mode a reader is in when they open an eBook, but students who are confined to just an eBook often wind up borrowing or buying the print version.
Indexes can provide the reader with pre-analysis of a text, but they are not being implemented well (or at all) in eBooks and eContent. This means the reader loses a navigation tool that could help at several stages of research, and the eBook loses potentially-useful semantic metadata that could be implemented and used in coming versions of ePub and more powerful readers. In this session, we’ll review what happens in the process of searching, and three methods of offering readers additional tools to help them navigate content and aboutness. A prototype of Search + Index will be described, and we will be asking for feedback about how it could be implemented, improved, or adopted.
Jan Wright has been indexing and taxonomizing since 1991. Her experience in technical documentation indexing goes deep, from her experience as a print production specialist at Aldus Corporation, her work for Visio Corporation on online help and translated indexes, her work for several Microsoft departments in indexing, online help, taxonomies, and controlled vocabularies, and for Autodesk, where her indexes are translated into multiple languages, in an XML system that repurposes the content into multiple output formats, languages, and versions. She has been a member of the American Society for Indexing since 1991, has won several awards from the Society for Technical Communication, and in 2009 won the American Society for Indexing/H.W. Wilson Award for Excellence in Indexing for her index to Real World InDesign CS3. She is currently co-chairing the American Society for Indexing’s Digital Trends Task Force, focusing on eBook and eContent indexing and search.
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