Is disambiguity a word?

I had the pleasure of speaking at the User Assistance Conference in Edinburgh recently and spent one lunch time chatting with Professor Geoffrey K. Pullum, who is the Professor of General Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh and regular contributor to the Language Log. We were talking about whether or not ‘disambiguity’ was a real word. As you can imagine, he had much more thoughtful opinions on this than I did. Professor Pullum had an inkling that it wasn’t a proper word (although I think he kind of liked it anyway!)

Not long after lunch I received this email from the Professor that he had kindly allowed me to share with you because I know you’d be interested to know too!

I was not wrong: the entire 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary, which records every lexeme ever attested in 700 years of the history of the English language, has no entry for “disambiguity” at all.

It also isn’t in Webster’s, the greatest dictionary of American English (search it online at http://www.webster.com):

Suggestions for disambiguity:

    1. disambiguate           2. disambiguates
    3. disambiguating         4. disambiguation
    5. disembogued            6. disambiguated
    7. disembogues            8. disambiguations
    …

Your word, with its verb-restricted “dis-” prefix (as in disable, disabuse, disagree, disallow, disappear, disarm, disband, disbar, disbelieve, etc.) and its noun ending, is entirely your own invention.

Though I should note that a few nouns formed from dis- verbs are found.”Disability” is one that has the -ity suffix.  So that is a sort of model, not in the sense that you did have it in mind, but in the sense that you could have done.  It shows that forming such a word is not out of the question for English word formation principles.  It’s just never been done before!

I’m fairly certain I’m not the first person to have ‘made up’ this word or that it’s ‘my word’, but I like it all the more after learning this little bit about it novelty. Linguists are cool.

Drupal.org – Crowdsourcing Usability Testing – Get Involved!

Another day, another way to be involved in the Drupal.org redesign project, and this one’s a little different – but I think it’s going to be great fun!

Here’s what we’re going to do.

I’m going to be doing some remote usability testing using screen sharing and screen recording software that I’ll share back with all of you and that will help guide the ongoing design of the prototype. In particular, I’m going to be doing research with ‘outsiders’.

If you have either experience or interest in helping in this research effort, then I invite you to help test the prototype, either by doing more online remote research, or – even better – by doing some ‘in person’ research with people near you – especially people who are Drupal insiders.

We can then all post the videos of our research together with our findings and recommendations in a central location, building an amazing resource to document the progress of the prototype and what has guided the decision making as it is designed.

We’ll be asking people to help out with testing for each iteration as it is released, so if you’re too busy (or nervous) now, then never fear, opportunities abound. In fact, there’s no reason why this should stop just because the redesign team are off the case.

This is a little more complicated than our original crowdsourcing effort (wireframing), so I’ve quickly thrown together the skeleton of a wiki where we can pull together a toolkit of need to know information for this project – technology to use, how to interview, how to analyse results, that kind of thing. If you have expertise in this area, please feel free to pitch in a few recommendations.

You can find the Crowd Sourcing Research Wiki here. (Be warned, it’s pretty ugly, but I’m too excited about this to spend time making it look pretty – anyone who wants to do so is more than welcome).

So, consider yourself invited. If you’d like to be involved in helping test the prototype then please get involved. If you’ve wanted to try your hand at usability testing but have never had the opportunity, here it is. Exciting, huh? :)

Drupal.org – Prototyping commences!

Progress continues apace on the Drupal.org redesign project – thanks to lots of help from you, we have now moved into the rapid prototyping phase.

In the spirit of this open redesign process, you’re more than welcome to take a look at the prototype as it evolves from its current, very sketchy state to … well, whatever it becomes. Hopefully a great home for the Drupal.org community and their product!

Now, be warned – it’s not pretty and it is far from complete. There are some things we kind of like and plenty we think may be a little dodgy, and some stuff that is just holding a place until we have more time to think on it (or to generate a little feedback in the meanwhile). The visual design (colours, fonts, etc.) of the prototype bears not resemblance to what we imagine the finished Drupal.org website will look like. Some of the content we kind of like, a lot of it is just holding text. It is very much a work in progress!

It’s really all about what’s on the page and what it’s called – lots of information architecture to look at really!

Anyway – enough with the disclaimers – why don’t you go take a look for yourself and, if you’re so inclined, leave any feedback or questions you have in the comments here and it will go into the mix for the next iteration. I’ll let you know when the next version is up for you to take a look, and we’ll continue like that for the next few weeks at least, as we gradually build in all the content and functionality and fine tune the content and interaction.

Drupal.org Prototype Development – Iteration 2

Drupal.org – What we learned from the Community Wireframing Project

 Stickynotes

I thought you might be interested to know a little about what we did with all the wireframes people submitted for the Drupal Redesign Project.

Around 30 wireframes were submitted, mostly to the Flickr group, but also on Drupal Groups and other locations (linked to in the comments of the original post). I think this is a really great effort and I am really pleased with the participation in the project.

It wasn’t just a fun exercise though, so since receiving the wireframes I’ve been doing a little work to try to understand what this exercise can tell us. In order to do so, I’ve been making a page for each template that people chose to tackle and then making a little sticky note for each piece of content/functionality or concept that people included on their wireframes and tracking how many times an idea was included. 

This process helps us to confirm a) which templates people are thinking about most (the homepage (predictably), community, support, project and documentation type templates were most common), and also b) what kinds of content they expect to be able to find on that template.

The results are certainly not a prescription for which templates we design and what goes on them, but it is a useful input to the process, particularly as a cross-check – to make sure that the ideas we are suggesting aren’t omitting anything important, and that we have considered all of the ideas generated from this exercise in the process of working on the wireframes and prototype.

Most excitingly, though, we hope that this exercise has helped to encourage more thinking about what the new Drupal.org can be, and to trigger some really interesting conversations – in particular some great ongoing discussions around the project page, and integrating groups and projects over in the Redesign Group.

Don’t feel that you have to stop now though – drawing things out is a great way to communicate your thoughts and give us feedback (can save a thousand words, so they say) – if you’ve got an idea or something you’d like to share, feel free to run up your own wireframe – pen and paper is fine! – and post it either to the Flickr group, or your blog, or to the Redesign Group, and let’s talk about it!