LATCH Browser

Background and Approach

Today's knowledge workers are confronted with ever growing amounts of information; additionally, they are increasingly forced to apply concepts of information re-use in different contexts, e.g., to use a project's financial data in a powerpoint presentation.

This work is about a conceptual architecture and prototypical implementation of a concept for structuring information. We follow Wurman, who argues for the ways of organizing information to be finite, in particular he argues for the dimensions location, alphabet, time, category and hierarchy (LATCH) to be the core dimensions of information organisation. Following on that, we argue for an infinite number of indexes but that the LATCH indexes are the very common ones.

Wurman [pp. 40] describes the five ways of organising information as follows:

Also, combining these indexes is often useful. For instance, in large collections one might structure the individual parts of a hierarchy alphabetically; or, one might access hierarchies by location, etc.

Following on this general principle, we have designed a conceptual architecture and built a software prototype for demonstration purposes.

Implementation and Status

We have implemented two prototype scenarios using the architecture above. The first one is concerned with tourist data on cultural heritage; the second one is concerned with managing a companies products.

The History Browser
For instance, in the domain of tourist information systems, data on cultural heritage could be presented to tourists. In the screenshot below, someone is interested in composers living in Vienna between 1700 and 1750. The browser uses the LATCH concept, in particular it uses the indexes location, time and category, where the latter denotes information on composers, musicians, mathematicians, etc. Users can select the time spawn they are interested in with a slider (lower part of the Figure) and they can select the location of interest by clicking on the map. In the right part of the browser they can then select the respective category.

History Browser
Figure: The History Browser

Sales Data and Product Management
Managing products can be a quite difficult task. Often it is necessary to structure sales information such as market share according to countries, customers, etc. The Figures below show two examples. The first Figure shows how data on market shares can be combined with location based data and the use of a specific index structure (contact). The second Figure gives an example of how data on projects - in this case the financial resources available - is used.

Market Scenario
Figure 3: The Market Scenario

Figure 4: The Budget Scenario


Richard Saul Wurman, David Sume, Loring Liefer, and Karen Whitehouse. Information Anxiety 2. Que, 2001.


Marcus Harringer
University of Salzburg
Institute for Computer Science
5020 Salzburg, Austria

Univ.-Doz. Dr. Siegfried Reich
Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft m.b.H.
T +43.662.2288.211
F +43.662.2288.222