There’s a lot of data being generated and we need to find new ways to manage and navigate through it. The Dec. 8, 2011 news item by Ellen Ferrante and Lisa-Joy Zgorski on phsyorg.com describes a data visualization tool designed by the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory (HCIL) at the University of Maryland,
The National Science Foundation- (NSF) funded Action Science Explorer (ASE) allows users to simultaneously search through thousands of academic papers, using a visualization method that determines how papers are connected, for instance, by topic, date, authors, etc. The goal is to use these connections to identify emerging scientific trends and advances.
“We are creating an early warning system for scientific breakthroughs,” said Ben Shneiderman, a professor at the University of Maryland (UM) and founding director of the UM Human-Computer Interaction Lab.
“Such a system would dramatically improve the capability of academic researchers, government program managers and industry analysts to understand emerging scientific topics so as to recognize breakthroughs, controversies and centers of activity,” said Shneiderman. “This would enable appropriate allocation of funds, encourage new collaborations among groups that unknowingly were working on similar topics and accelerate research progress.”
I went to the HCIL website to find more about the ASE project here where I also located a screen capture of the graphical interface,
There’s also a video explaining some aspects of ASE,
For those who can’t get enough data, there’s a technical report here.
I expect we will be seeing more of these kinds of tools and not just for science research. There was this April 6, 2011 news item by Aaron Dubrow on physorg.com describing the US National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) new data visualization tools,
At the end of President George W. Bush’s administration in 2009, NARA received roughly 35 times the amount of data as previously received from the administration of President Bill Clinton, which itself was many times that of the previous administration. With the federal government increasingly using social media, cloud computing and other technologies to contribute to open government, this trend is not likely to decline. By 2014, NARA is expecting to accumulate more than 35 petabytes (quadrillions of bytes) of data in the form of electronic records.
“The National Archives is a unique national institution that responds to requirements for preservation, access and the continued use of government records,” said Robert Chadduck, acting director for the National Archives Center for Advanced Systems and Technologies.
After consulting with NARA about its needs, members of TACC’s [Texas Advanced Computing Center] Data and Information Analysis group developed a multi-pronged approach that combines different data analysis methods into a visualization framework. The visualizations act as a bridge between the archivist and the data by interactively rendering information as shapes and colors to facilitate an understanding of the archive’s structure and content.
I’d best get ready to develop new literacy skills as these data visualization tools come into play.