Popular Navigational Aids

As the Web grows exponentially, finding your way around is becoming increasingly difficult. Several services have sprung up to address this very complex problem. Each uses a very different approach, since there is no comprehensive registry of sites (as in gopher) or a standard way of documenting the contents of a site (as in FTP/Archie).

Almost all of these services admit that they are not yet comprehensive, but some have the capability to be so. The best navigation service should make it easy to find almost anything on the Web (once all the data is entered). Many of them require public support to be successful; perhaps the winners here will get it.

Definitions of the characteristics is here


Indexes

AliWeb (http://web.nexor.co.uk/aliweb/doc/aliweb.html)

Martijn Koster, Nexor
A Web analogue of Archie; catalogs voluntary IAFA-compliant indexes of server contents.

Internet Meta-Index (http://cui_www.unige.ch/meta-index.html)

Oscar Nierstrasz, U. Geneva Informatics
An index of indexes, really a single interface to many varied indexes (including some here).

JumpStation (http://www.stir.ac.uk/jsbin/js)

Jonathan Fletcher, Stirling U.
Robot-generated index of <TITLE> and <H#> tags.

W3 Catalog (http://cui_www.unige.ch/w3catalog)

Oscar Nierstrasz, U. Geneva Informatics
One of the useful first navigation aids; basically it indexes all the semi-comprehensive lists that are out there.

WorldWideWebWorm (http://www.cs.colorado.edu/home/mcbryan/WWWW.html)

Oliver McBryan, U. Colorado CS
Fairly close to comprehensive already, gaining in popularity. Indexes titles, url's, and reference links.

Hierarchical Directories

Project DA-CLOD (http://schiller.wustl.edu/DACLOD/daclod)

Sam Sengupta, Washington U.-St. Louis
Publicly-extensible hierarchy. Makes comprehensiveness very possible, but could have problems with anarchic structure. Also includes index.

Galaxy (http://galaxy.einet.net/galaxy.html)

EINet
A rare commercial venture into the navigation field. Very structured, with topics containing explicit entries as well as search results from Veronica and other indexes. Has an index as well as tree structure.

Joel's Hierarchical Subject Index (http://www.cen.uiuc.edu/~jj9544/)

Joel Jones, U. Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Hierarchy based on Brittanica Propaedia. Very incomplete.

Mother-of-all-BBS' (http://www.cs.colorado.edu/homes/mcbryan/public_html/bb/summary.html)

Oliver McBryan, U. Colorado CS
Probably the most technically advanced service. Anyone can change structure through forms. In my opinion, the closest working service to Tim B-L's original vision. Free access is already making the hierarchy anarchic.

The Virtual Tourist

Brandon Plewe, SUNY/Buffalo
One of the more unique approaches, really started in November with the Norwegian Home Page.

Definitions:

Paradigm:
The conceptual framework for organizing the service
Level:
The detail of information that is catalogued, from detailed to general:
Full-text < Page (i.e. title) < Service/Document < Host (HTTP Server) < Site (i.e. campus)
Storage:
The catalog can either be central (all stored at the host) or distributed
Maintenance:
Either private (by storage admins only) or public (automatic through forms)
Global:
Whether the service has the potential to be comprehensive.
Brandon Plewe - plewe@acsu.buffalo.edu