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Inf@Vis!

The digital magazine of InfoVis.net

What the Net says
by Juan C. Dürsteler [message nº 117]

Elaborating information extracted from the Net and presenting it in graphical form is what “dicelared” (whatthenetsays) is trying to do, an interesting initiative in the Spanish language.
Presence of Spanish political parties in the media. dicelared allocates seats in this "virtual parliament" proportionally to the appearance of each party. In red is the one that has obtained more attention.
Source: dicelared

Dicelared is an interesting project that combines the systematic analysis of the information reality present in the Net together with visual representation techniques in order to understand what is happening at a glance.

One of the slogans that you can find in this website says “The Net is increasingly a specular image of reality. Knowing what the net says is knowing the reality that surrounds us better”. Not bad, but, what does “dicelared” contribute?.

According their own definition, this company “elaborates analyses of information in order to detect feelings in society and the market.” The process that they perform daily has four phases.

 

  • Scanning. Every day the Net is scanned in search of new information or changes regarding the existent one. The results are grouped and sorted according to existing categories, that are customisable according to the pursued application or objective.

  • Storage. The downloaded information, along with the analysis produced is stored in order to be reused or complemented with further information. 

  • Analysis. Basically of lexical character, it’s centred on the evaluation of the appearance frequency of words, sentences and expressions. Closeness between sentences or words and statistical analysis of contents is at the core of this elaboration.  

  • Representation. The results of the analysis is presented in a visual way. The graphics that “dicelared” shows are simple but effective. Basically they are ring or line charts, bar charts and what they call “infomaps” that strongly resemble treemaps (see issues 51 and 52 on the topic)

According to Luis García de la Fuente, a member of the company, “dicelared” is an initiative that came about as the result of regularly reading the R index that “The Economist” publishes. It takes into account the frequency of appearance of the term “recession” in financial publications as an apparently reliable index of the feeling that a recessive economy generates. From this idea came a project that combines computational linguistics with visual representation in order to sense current information. 

All the information it handles comes from the scanning of 24 international newspapers, 8 Spanish newspapers and a series of forums, chats and other media specialised in health, technology and finance. Among the newspapers you can find The Washington Post, Clarín or Los Angeles Times.

Food brands. The presence of different food and beverage brands in Spain. The one that has received more attention from the media is depicted in red.
Source: dicelared
Health. References to different illnesses during the last 7 days. Pneumonia occupies by far the first place, due to the appearance of an unknown variante of this illness in Hong Kong.
Souce: dicelared

Their commercial objective targets three different fields: 

  1. Marketing studies directed toward brand perception and corporate image.

  2. Public opinion analyses and sociological studies for public and private institutions like political parties and analysis agencies.

  3. Websites wanting to complement their content offer with the analysis of information existing in the Net.

The visual information of “dicelared” is not a spectacular one. You shouldn’t expect, at least for the moment, charts with elaborate colours, 3D artefacts or sophisticated animation. In fact it could be argued that the range of colours used to code information is insufficient since they don’t allow you to discriminate with enough precision.

Nevertheless they are efficient, obtaining the purpose of showing the results of complex analyses in a simple and understandable way. What is specially clear is the visual metaphor of the parliament where the seats are distributed according to the presence of each political party in the media.

Possibly the most appealing thing of this initiative is the combination of simple but relatively unusual charts with a text mining treatment in a simple and intuitive way. Something that we are thankful for in this flat and no-risk information landscape that most webs show today.


Links of this issue:

http://www.dicelared.com   dicelared's website
http://www.infovis.net/printMag.php?num=51&lang=2   Issue number 51 on "Treemaps"
http://www.infovis.net/printMag.php?num=52&lang=2   Issue number 52 on "The Evoluction of Treemaps"
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