|InfoVis.net>Magazine>message nº 93||Published 2002-07-01|
|También disponible en Español|
The digital magazine of InfoVis.net
It was exactly the 1st of July of 2002 when Infovis.net was born as an experience in order to gather the state of the art on Information Visualisation.
The basic idea was to store the Information by means of a web site, sharing with some friends (that were bold enough to subscribe), on a weekly basis, the results of my avid readings on the topic complemented with windy searches through the Net and a little research at the University.
To my surprise subscription grew beyond my most optimistic guesses. Currently there are more than 1000 people directly subscribed to InfoVis.net and around 4100 through the space “Applied Infonomics" that, thanks to the invitation of Alfons Cornella, holds my mental digressions each week.
Two years of Internet is a long time, maybe enough to stop and think about what has changed in Information Visualisation and what remains the same.
Jus two years ago the Internet bubble was still blossoming and in the meetings with infopreneurs all seemed possible. The bubble, nevertheless, was already beginning to tremble, ready to burst some months later.
Some interesting companies began to appear, like Cartia, that was promoting the extraordinary website newsmaps.com. The snapshots of this website are today, once passed on, venerable museum images. Now part of Aurigin the ThemeScape technology became a tool of the consulting firm that closed newsmaps.
Inxight, a Xerox spin-off, was trying to gain market share with innovative visualisation and data structuring technologies. Visual Insights was focusing on business visualisation, using less daring graphics that are better accepted by the public.
Summarising, most of the visualisation technologies that are still alive have been sheltered in consulting firms, associated to other tools, disguised as tailored solutions of knowledge managements or other buzzwords like e-business. Innovative graphics haven’t arrived to the public yet, still not used to its interpretation, not always simple.
The 3D Adventure
During this time many attempts to represent cyberspace as a virtual 3D world, similar to the real one, have taken place. Experiments like Vios.com lasted less than a candy at the school door. PlanetOasis has changed its strategy completely , abandoning the 3D decoration. Adobe Atmosphere is still in Beta Test more than one year after its launch and the latest version is dated from last December. 3D and virtual worlds haven’t caught up in InfoVis.
Meanwhile creativity has blossomed in experiences like Ben Shneiderman’s Treemaps that SmartMoney has popularised with its powerful “Map of the Market”. The same can be said of Anemone, the ingenuous way of looking at the visits of a web site by Ben Fry. Maybe one of the most beautiful, intuitive and elegant representation is PeopleGarden by Rebecca Xiong and Judith Donath that shows social interaction in a communication environment by means of flowers placed in the garden of communication.
In the end, Information Visualisation is still lacking a solid theory supporting its development. The most advanced visualisations are restricted to more or less specialised consulting firms and in order to reach the mass public the chasm that separates visionary creators from pragmatists able to massively commercialise their creations has to be crossed. All this not forgetting that we are used to a very modest inventory of graphical tools and representations.
But this is a field that is incessantly innovating, showing an enormous creativity, and that holds the will to make the data avalanche that the technology pours onto us more understandable. Every day it plays an increasingly important role in the field of communication and discovery. We still have a lot to see…
There are two key elements that avoid InfoVis.net resembling a black hole within a tunnel.
Many thanks, indeed.
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