the big picture 10.05.2005, 7:26 PM
posted by ben vershbow
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.
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.
Posted by ben vershbow on October 5, 2005 7:26 PM
tags: CNET, Online, browser, cluster, constellation, design, folksonomy, infoviz, internet, layout, magazine, news, newspaper, ontology, page, print, publishing, tagging, tags, visualization, viz, web
Lilian Starobinas on October 14, 2005 11:23 PM:
I arrived at the same feature at CNET, and was excited about its potential. I guess it could be a very interesting educational tool in case we find a way to promote a collective building of the map.
This is the first time I arrived to if:book, great project! I'm writting from Brazil, where I work with teachers, trying to find our way at the use of ICT in school and outside it! warm regards!