Category Archives: viz

the big picture

Though a substantial portion of our reading now takes place online, we still chafe against the electronic page, in part because today’s screens are hostile to the eye, but also, I think, because we are waiting for something new – something beyond a shallow mimicry of print. Occasionally, however, you come across something that suggests a new possibility for what a page, or series of pages, can be when words move to the screen.
I came across such a thing today on CNET’s new site, which has a feature called “The Big Picture,” a dynamic graphical display that places articles at the center of a constellation, drawing connections to related pieces, themes, and company profiles.
CNET big picture.jpg
Click on another document in the cluster and the items re-arrange around a new center, and so on – ontologies are traced. But CNET’s feature does not go terribly far in illuminating the connections, or rather the different kinds of connections, between articles and ideas. They should consider degrees of relevance, proximity in time, or overlaps in classification. Combined with a tagging system, this could get interesting. As it stands, it doesn’t do much that a simple bullet list of related articles can’t already do admirably, albeit with fewer bells and whistles.
But this is pushing in an interesting direction, testing ways in which a web publication can organize and weave together content, shedding certain holdovers from print that are no longer useful in digital space. CNET should keep playing with this idea of an article ontology viewer – it could be refined into a legitimately useful tool.

fertile pages

ifbook organic.jpg
Organic HTML is a wonderful little applet I came across that turns websites into bizarre-looking plants. information aesthetics speculates on how it might work:

the emerging plant appears to use the colors similar to those found in the website HTML, CSS or images, while its size & branches depend on the site structure, content or number of pages. without any readily provided explanation or legend, one keeps trying to feed it URLs to derive the most beautiful flower (while avoiding the sometimes appearing flies)

Plug in a URL and try it out (be warned: it might crash your browser). if:book is apparently an inky species of blog (see above). I’ll add this to our garden. I wonder why there aren’t more sprouts of orange? The New York Times comes out more floral.

ny times organic.jpg

Something interesting I found, take a look at these two plants. One is Google, the other Yahoo! Can you guess which is which? (The larger plant has been scaled down.)
yahoo organic.jpg google organic.jpg