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Integrating Repository Function with Work Practice

What is Personalisation?

Posted by johnrg on September 24, 2008

One of the work packages in the Streamline project (and very much related to PERSoNA project) is that of personalisation. It seems to me that personalisation can exist at a variety of different levels:

  1. Customising the presentational aspects of an interface: by this I mean that in many instances a user can control the colour, size and position of aspects of an interface. Here the user could place a ‘gadget’ anywhere on the web page, set its font, background and border colours, choose images to represent aspects of the interface and so forth.
  2. Customising the range of ‘gadgets’ present on a page: here I mean that a user could choose which ‘gadget’s or tools would be present on a web page i.e. a user might choose to include a calendar and not a calculator tool.
  3. Customising the functionality of an individual ‘gadget’ or tool: in this instance a user may be able to provide parameterised information that could be used by a tool to modify the service that it offers. Examples of this might be to select a specific URL as a base search URL, add URLs to a search base, select or add RSS feeds to an aggregator  etc.
  4. Customising the information presented / returned to a user following interaction with a tool: an example of this could be using historical information about a user’s previous interactions to prioritise information presented to a user e.g. a customised Google search.

With regard to personalisation in Streamline / PERSoNA all 4 could be achieved however I believe that we should prioritise matters such that we provide a choice of tools initially, followed by a range of function customisation, then look at customisation based on interaction history with presentational customisation being the last area to investigate.

Does this seem sensible to others?


2 Responses to “What is Personalisation?”

  1. Nick said

    Hi John

    The prioritised hierarchy you outline certainly seems sensible to me.

    NB. Isn’t an element of ‘personalisation’ in our context facilitating appropriate interraction between users – I’m not certain this is accounted for in your description above, not explicitly anyway, though may emerge through the use of apposite ‘gadgets’?

  2. Janet Finlay said

    I think the order here depends on the choice of tools on offer and the functional customisation possible. In many ways the customisation based on interaction history (or the interaction history of others) is fundamental to the interactive element (interaction between users). This may be more important than providing persoanlised functionality. Choice of tools is important but perhaps as important is choice of representation. This is different I think to choice in presentation (which is focused on interface elements). With representation the focus is on how information is represented – text, word clouds etc. – which may be critical to a user’s sense of personalisation.

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