I have seen a lot of research on web visualization and I have seen a couple of companies spring up whose product was based around using various visualization techniques to provide unique perspectives or insight. These products or services can provide decision makers with specialized tools that help interpret information and understand relationships.
Combined with Internet technologies, many displays approach the idea of overview by given dashboard configurations of symbols or distillations of large quantities of information into more easily digested representations or concepts.
When they are interactive (as they should be), they allow you to determine the path for that exploration.
I have talked about tag clouds on this blog before, and have even included recently a tag cloud widget in the sidebar. The widget does not give complete coverage of the tags I use here, but it provides a second visual example of topics that draw from a sampling of the categories I’ve created.
Recently that I have seen more usage of these topical visualization tools on the web and in particular regarding news stories. I wanted to use CNET’s use of Radial Hierarchical Networks methods for there visualization of top stories in “The Big Picture” as a live example, but unfortunately I can’t find it anymore.
However, for a fun exercise in interactive representations of how the news connects, check out www.muckety.com. It uses the same approach that CNET’s Big Picture did and reminds me of the old Persuadio maps.
Here is what Muckety has to say about itself:
Muckety is published by Muckety LLC, a company founded in 2006 by a team with years of experience in journalism, technology and online publishing.
The name Muckety derives, of course, from muckety mucks. Some follow the money. We follow the muckety, producing a daily news and information site based on online databases (which we enlarge daily), extensive research and old-fashioned journalism.
The founders/editors of the site are Laurie Bennett, Gary Jacobson and John Decker, who are all award winning journalists with expertise in graphics, photography and reporting.
Using the web site and control clicking on Laurie’s name I get a visual of her relationship to a multitude of new organizations where she acted as a reporter, editor or co-founder in one case. In the same graphic, it also provided relationship information to family as well as work.
Sadly, I found that I had no relationship to anything when I searched on my name. But as the site is updated and expanded on a continual basis, one day I may relate to something.
For a quick explanation of how to use it, www.visualcomplexity.com, an amazing site which is a great stopping place for information and examples in graphical representation explains.
After performing a search and choosing from the search results, you'll get a map that shows connections between people and organizations. To view descriptions of the relations, click anywhere on the map to activate it. When you pass your mouse over connecting lines, you'll see a popup box describing the connections. Solid lines represent current relationships; dotted lines show former relationships. You can also re-center a map around one or more players by clicking on the map background and dragging your mouse to draw a temporary box around them. The chosen boxes will be highlighted in pink.
For a puzzle to solve, use Muckety to connect how Groucho Marx and Frank Sinatra are related.