Reading

March 27, 2012 in Evening, Home, Reading, Reflecting, Visualization

On the bank of the Rhine

On the bank of the Rhine

Back at home in Bonn, I go for a run to the Rhine and back to counteract the effects of a “sitting day”. It is almost dark outside. Later on, I read a bit of Ben Fry’s Visualizing Data having in mind our attempts to visualize the Book of the Dead Archive. So far, we have created a lot of what Fry calls “generic displays”: geographical maps, bar charts, pie charts, and so-called donut charts which reveal the characteristics of the database’s content. But we have also gone further and created individual charts like a radiating representation of the proximity of neighbours of a specific Book of the Dead spell or even an all-embracing neighbourship visualization (see Patrick’s post discussing this). So we have intuitively heeded Fry’s advice that “complex data sets used for specialized applications require unique treatment”.

Neighbourship of spells

Neighbourship of spells

However, questions impose themselves: Is it possible to develop a tool for information visualization that is generic in the sense that it is not bound exclusively to a specific project with specific data? And that is flexible and customizable at the same time, so that it can be used to create meaningful visual representations tailored to particular needs of different projects? Or is it an either-or-decision between generic, yet not necessarily illuminating, and well-fitting individual case solutions requiring programming?

How can we enhance the dynamics and interactivity of the visualizations (e.g. via SVG- or script-based animations) if the browser turns out to be too small in some cases (compared to possible printout formats)?

We will surely continue to think about this kind of questions…

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