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Visualizing Science April 16, 2008

Posted by Andre Vellino in Collaborative filtering, Digital library, Social networks, Visualization.
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The Places and Spaces exhibit is now on display at CISTI thanks to efforts by my colleague Jeff Demaine. It’s really interesting and often quite beautiful to see these maps of science. It certainly stimulates the imagination. But I’m not sure yet if we quite understand how these different techniques for visualizing relations between information, people, places, words, articles, diseases etc. can be made useful, or practical.

One very definite limitation of these visualizations is that they are 2-dimensional and not interactive (with one notable exception in the exhibit in which you can explore the geographic location of science research across different disciplines). Many of these maps were created using the open source Network Workbench from the university of Indiana. It looks like a very useful collection of software components for analyzing networks of various sorts, such as citation networks.

I’m hoping that with the introduction of commodity visualization tools such as the Google Visualization API, the interactive navigation of multi-dimensional data will become commonplace. I’m especially excited about possibilities such as iGoogle motion charts (formerly “TrendAnalyser” that Google bought from Gapminder some months ago.)

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