The Two Towers and Faceted Browsing in the OPAC

…well, the first is definitely a tower but I’m not so sure about the other one. Not only that, but I should really have posted this entry over a month ago.
Anyway, to get to the point — on my birthday (at the start of June), Bryony and I went for a walk over to Hinchcliffe’s Farm Shop. En route, we got some great views of Victoria Tower, atop Castle Hill:

Here you can see the shadow cast by the tower on Google Maps:

The second tower we found (if that’s what it is) sticks out like a sore thumb — it’s in the middle of some nearby woods and we have no idea what it is or what it was used for. Here’s how it appears on Google Maps:

You can see from the shadow that it rises high above the tree tops. Here’s what it looks like from the base, looking up:

I suppose it could be a chimney, but there were no signs of holes or doors in the base of the structure — it just rises straight up from the ground. Maybe it’s a secret missile silo?
If you look at the Google Map, you’ll find there’s a former wool mill complex to the north. This is now home to the Yorkshire Technology & Office Park, which happens to be where View-Based Systems Ltd (VBS) is located.
VBS was set up by the late Dr Steven Pollitt — if you’ve never heard of Stephen, then you might want to track down the two Endeca patents on the USPTO site, as they both cite his pioneering research into faceted browsing which was carried out at the University of Huddersfield. You can see some of the history on the VBS web site.
One of my colleagues, Dr Amanda Tinker, worked closely with Steven and they both gave a presentation at the CILIP Umbrella 2003 event on this very day 3 years ago. In fact, had things gone to plan, then Huddersfield could have launched an OPAC with facetted browsing (based on Dewey) 3 or 4 years ago.
Sadly things didn’t go to plan, and facetted browsing wasn’t quite as cool back then as it is now. Whenever I look at North Carolina’s OPAC, I feel a mixture of envy tinged with dischuffedness† that Huddersfield didn’t get to launch a faceted OPAC several years ago and snatch all the fame, kudos, brownie points, and glory 😉
Anyway, facetted searching is a hot topic again in 2006 and I’m looking forward to a meeting on the 17th with Howard Lockwood of VBS to discuss a possible collaboration project. All I can say at the moment is “watch this space” 🙂
Still, none of this explains what the second tower is for. If you have any ideas, please feel free to post a comment!

dischuffedness: noun

the state of not being chuffed about something