Cheryl Lemmens - Indexing and Editorial Services
Book Indexing • Web Site Indexing • Editing
Web Site Indexing: Introduction
Web site indexing is a concept that is still in an evolutionary stage, even though most major sites include some sort of guide to content in the form of either a true alphabetical index or a section-by-section site map.
The explosive growth of the Internet — and the sheer immensity of material that has gone online — means that we will eventually need a way to find what's out there, whether we know what we're looking for or not. As indexer Barbara Quint noted at the American Society of Indexers annual conference in 1994:
The ocean flows of online information are all streaming together, and the access tools are becoming absolutely critical. If you don't index it, it doesn't exist. It's out there but you can't find it, so it might as well not be there.
As an editing professional who became interested in the indexing process through my work on Web sites, I can vouch for the need to apply the same meticulous organizational skills used in book indexing to material accessible on the Internet. And, indeed, some corporations, institutions, and organizations have recognized the need to provide their Web site users with real indexes. Others have gone the site map route, and should also be commended for their assistance to users.
The ASI's Digital Publications Indexing SIG
Twelve years after its Web indexing special interest group was reactivated, the American Society for Indexing approved a new name and mandate for the SIG. It is now known as the Digital Publications Indexing SIG.
The Digital Publications Indexing SIG now promotes not just Web site indexing but e-book indexing and reading technology; embedded indexing of electronic documents, online help, databases, and e-zines; and the use of appropriate indexing software, e-book readers, and search engine metadata. As noted on the SIG home page: "Its first objective is to serve the professional interests of indexers who seek to apply their skills in traditional human indexing to the nontraditional ebook, electronic and Web medium." The SIG also seeks to "inform the ebook, online help, electronic document and Web design and development community of the advantages of professional indexes to digital media," and to promote best practices in the field.
I have been a member of the SIG since 2005, and my interest in the promotion of Web site and electronic indexing continues.
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