[Previous] [Next] [Up] [Title]

4.1. The components and approach of the DIAL prototype

A key part of Project DIAL is the development of the DIAL prototype, so as to provide an example of the types of facilities which could be expanded into a full system, to allow such facilities to be demonstrated to potential users and potential funding sources, and to allow users to test the facilities for themselves. It was decided at the outset of the project that, given that the World-Wide-Web made this possible, the prototype would be accessible by the public from its earliest stages, except for the DIALogue component which is of its nature only available to Authorised Users.

The prototype has been available for public access since August 1997 at http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/special/dial/ There are some disadvantages in allowing users to access a prototype before it is finished, but it has allowed quite a number of people to become aware of and interested in Project DIAL even before the prototype is complete.

Whether and how the Project DIAL prototype is advanced to any further stages beyond the completion of this feasibility study is a matter for the Asian Development Bank.

4.1.1. Components - the Project DIAL home page

The three components of DIAL can be seen from its home page: Each of these components is described in detail in the next three chapters. This chapter discusses a number of issues common to the first two components.

4.1.2. Approach - Beyond print

A broad analogy to these components is that DIAL Index is like looking through a library card catalogue and picking general titles (ie. Internet sites) that might be useful; DIAL Search is like going to the actual book and viewing the text (ie. searching full-text legislation for word occurrences); and DIALogue is like getting general guidance from the local reference librarian.

This analogy is appealing but has two fundamental limitations. First, full text searching (such as in DIAL Search) does not really have a paper analogy - our experience of reading books rarely involves us scanning large bodies of text for pre-defined word combination, it is closer to a very limited form of hypertext browsing.

More important, if you only implement digital facilities in ways that have paper-based analogies, you are a priori accepting potentially crippling limitations on a new and different medium. One of the aims of developing computerised facilities is to achieve things that are simply impossible in a paper-based system (for example, the searches of DIAL Search embedded in DIAL Index). Analogies to paper-based systems can be very useful in achieving user familiarity and acceptance in a new medium, but they should not be used as a limiting factor.

Project DIAL home page - http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/special/dial/

4.1.3. A summary of the main elements underlying the approach

Some of the factors underlying the approach taken in the DIAL prototype, and which will be discussed in the following chapters, are:

  • [Previous] [Next] [Up] [Title]