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Visualizing Things

WareLogging, IdeaLogging. SeeAlso: MappingStuff. UpdateThis. TooMuchTheory in general?

<Brennen> This is mostly a set of links to software plus some IdeaLogging about using software to visualize data (networks, relationships, etc.). A lot of these links are frivolous, but I think it's an important topic. Should elaborate on this and add things besides software.


BenFry does cool stuff. For example, the valence project and Processing. Also, he's probably behind some stuff listed on MappingStuff.

Most of the tools for looking at lots of graphics at once really suck.

A temporal map of wikipedia would be really cool.

Spreadsheets kind of suck to work with. Don't get me wrong - they're kind of a brilliant concept. But can't we come up with a slicker way to visually manipulate lots of little bits of data?

Microsoft graphs Usenet?

Ben Fry appears to be doing some Really Amazing Stuff. See Valence, for example. He uses something called Processing for applets. Processing appears to be supremely cool. (Aside from Java being a hog.)

Gallery of Computation - Some amazing computational art. The kinds of things which finally justify Java & Flash on the web.

The Shape of Song - Visualizes patterns in MIDI files as translucent arches. Lets you analyze any web-accessible MIDI file.

History Flow - An IBM project to visualize the editing of documents with multiple authors over time. No software available, but a nice screenshot gallery with results for different Wikipedia articles.

A visual thesaurus

The Remembrance Agent

:(Remem) is an Emacs plug-in that watches over your shoulder and suggests information relevant to what you're reading or writing. While search engines help with direct recall, Remem is a tool for associative memory. Suggested documents are displayed in a buffer at the bottom of your Emacs window, and are updated every few seconds based on the last hundred or so words surrounding the cursor. Documents are pulled from your own text documents, and Remem's internal indexer can parse email archives, HTML, LaTex and plain-text documents. It runs under most Unix systems (and maybe even properly souped-up Mac or Windows) and both Emacs and XEmacs.

I would like to see this in action.

Touchgraph is an open, Java based system that lets you display sets of things (like web pages) and the relationships between them in a surprisingly fluid, visually appealing way. There are working applications for browsing Google's related sites and sets, Amazon.com, and the structure of a wiki (Meatball:TouchGraphWikiBrowser). These are more in the nature of demos than full-fledged apps, but even at this stage they show a vast potential.

www.gnod.net/ does similar things with preferences for books, bands, and movies. I'm sometimes sceptical about the usefulness of algorithms that tell you "people who liked this also liked this", but they can be a good way to make connections. Audiogalaxy, my favorite music-sharing system ever, used something like this (apparently based on the music people were sharing and had in common) which was remarkably effective.

newsmap and another Flash-based Google News visualizer. Neither one does much for me, although Newsmap has improved since I first looked at it.

Music / sound - G-Force, Synaesthesia, and similar sound visualization systems can be kind of mindblowing.

<Brennen> people.csail.mit.edu/torralba/tinyimages/

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last edited January 14, 2008