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Design Influences

There are lots of design influences I'm not interested in documenting, and probably lots more I'm not even aware of, but there are also a few I wanted to make special mention of.

The idea of putting things into a hierarchical structure is clearly very important, but I have no idea how to give credit for it. When was hierarchical structure invented? Before writing? Probably. Could the idea have been with us from the beginning? Do apes have a hierarchical structure in their groups? Do bees? Cells?

It probably would be possible to track down who originated the various methods of displaying hierarchical structure on a computer, but I haven't done it. However, I did write some design notes about how I chose which method to use.

The major influence on the essay side was the Portland Pattern Repository. I have mixed feelings about this site. On the one hand, it is very cool, and the process does seem to work; on the other, the lack of permanence still makes me uncomfortable. My careful discussion of site dynamics is probably in part a reaction against this lack of permanence.

One thing I know I picked up from the Portland Pattern Repository is the idea of reducing the column width to produce a ten word line, thereby making the text easier to read.

The major influence on the referends (works and actors) side was the Internet Movie Database. This is a very nice site, and I've used it more than once to check my facts.

I was tempted to just use the database pages themselves as referends, but there were several reasons not to. I wanted to do the following: include works of all kinds, not just movies; provide backlinks from the works to the essays; use selection to make my smaller list more worthwhile; and, of course, give my own opinions more prominence.

Finally, although my design was driven more by the philosophy that interfaces should be small, simple, and fast, I agree with the concept that sites should be viewable with any browser.


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@ March (2000)