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Alex Grigg
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You're right that it doesn't have to be either/or and particularly in a drop down list of states an alphabetic list is probably the way to go (although lists of countries often break out the United States and put it at the top when a website knows most of its users come from the US).
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That's very odd. Particularly since I don't see an easy way to drill down a level below the first few dozen most popular authors. So if you're looking for Goya or Giger and didn't remember hot to spell their names, that might be helpful but if your artist is slightly more obscure you're back to keyword searching by name and hoping your spelling is correct or at least close enough.
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It's interesting that in web and computer based information systems alphabetical organization is quickly losing relevance again. Amazon and Google return results based almost completely on popularity rather than a more arbitrary alphabetical system. The need for alphabetical organization quickly decreases when the primary method of finding things is keyword searching rather than subject searching. Of course, as long as we still have physical objects on our shelves some sort of mostly arbitrary organizational system is necessary. When almost everything is born digital, is it is already happening, these organizational systems will become less and less relevant.
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I doubt the White House's use of social sites is going to increase the popular use of them much. Popular use is doing a pretty good job of exploding all on its own. I'm guessing that this initiative will primarily reach those who are already using these sites.
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