Desiderata for Exploratory Search Interfaces to Web Archives in Support of Scholarly Activities


Web archiving initiatives around the world capture ephemeral web content to preserve our collective digital memory. In this paper, we describe initial experiences in providing an exploratory search interface to web archives for humanities scholars and social scientists. We describe our initial implementation and discuss our finding in terms of desiderata for such a system. It is clear that the standard organization of a search engine results page (SERP), consisting of an ordered list of hits, is inadequate to support the needs of scholars. Shneiderman’s mantra for visual information seeking (“overview first, zoom and filter, then details-on-demand”) provides a nice organizing principle for interface design, to which we propose an addendum: “Make every-thing transparent”. We elaborate on this by highlighting the importance of the temporal dimension of web pages as well as issues surrounding metadata and veracity.

Proceedings of the 16th ACM/IEEE-CS on Joint Conference on Digital Libraries