Information is displayed on a virtual plane, infinite in size. Your local machine is an island of content. Other islands might be the LAN, the Web, etc. As you zoom closer, documents appear, and as soon as text gets readable, it can be edited.
This takes advantage of our orientation capabilities. Pages with links or files in a directory structure are likened to a maze, instead. Spatial orientation, landmarks – stuff humans are good at – are no longer useful in such environments. The Zooming Interface Paradigm allows humans to use these capabilities.
Other ideas: A button has a descriptive text on it. As you zoom closer and closer, more descriptive help becomes available.
A Flash demonstration can be tried at http://rchi.raskincenter.org/aboutarchy/demos.php (look for “The Zooming User Interface Demo”).
A presentation of software that creates links between pictures shared on Flickr and uses a Zooming Interface Paradigm to navigate between them: “Using photos of oft-snapped subjects (like Notre Dame) scraped from around the Web, Photosynth (based on Seadragon technology) creates breathtaking multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features that outstrip all expectation. Its architect, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, shows it off in this demo.”
Alex… You’re absolutely right about this. It’s astounding. They are at least six months further along with this than I thought. Thanks for sharing!
By the way, a lot of the fickr images are clearly labelled as having “reserved” rights of various types. Given the bad mood that is already evident at flickr as a result of their recent “censorship” policy implementation, I think the new Predient of Yahoo is going to enjoy a second life in (May you live in) “Interesting times” – Apparently an old Chinese curse.