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Structure of nodemaps

There are many different types of nodemaps, all based on underlying structure of interconnected nodes. They can lead readers to the specific information they seek, but can also invite readers to browse and discover new information. Serving as a directory, nodes can act like a table of contents, breaking a topic into increasingly smaller pieces and swiftly leading the reader to the information he or she wants. When serving content, a nodemap becomes more like a museum exhibit, inviting the reader to delve more deeply into topics of interest. Nodemaps often serve both purposes, and contain nodes that are like a directory and nodes that are like an exhibit.

Browsing is useful when users do not know exactly what they are looking for or where to find it. Users can browse with the purpose of “zooming in” on a narrow concept by honing in through a cascade of increasing specificity through a hierarchy. Users can also browse in a less directed manner by jumping between related concepts, such as between hyperlinks on web pages through a network. Hierarchies and networks can be and are often combined in web sites.

Hierarchies: People who need information about a particular topic browse hierarchies in order to narrow down categories to find that specific topic. A hierarchical search involves an approach that is more advanced than a plain linear search, which is manageable with only a small number of items. This has led to the development of tree-like structures, such as a table of contents that organizes the information fragments in a book. By dividing topics into a cascading set of categories and subcategories, it becomes possible for people to quickly find the topics they want. Read more about browsing hierarchies.

Networks: When people do not know exactly what they seek, an exploratory approach, categorized as browsing networks, can be more effective. A thesaurus is an example of network browsing, as it is based on the idea of jumping among related items. Similarly, the Internet is based on using hyperlinks to link together billions of web pages. The drawback is that browsing can result in looping through the same topics and losing the broader context of the original search. Read more about browsing networks.

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