Marian Dörk Information Visualization

Marian is a Research Professor at the Urban Futures Institute for Applied Research at University of Applied Sciences Potsdam.

Motivated by the design opportunities and research challenges arising from growing information spaces, Marian is particularly interested in the potential of visual interfaces to support new forms of data exploration. During his PhD research at the University of Calgary (2008 – 2012) in the InnoVis group and Interactions Lab, Marian designed and studied interactive visualizations to support exploratory forms of information seeking. As a postdoc in Culture Lab, Newcastle University (2012 – 2013) he worked on interactive visualizations of books and text documents. Over the years, Marian also had the chance to collaborate with researchers and engineers at Google, Microsoft Research, IBM Research, and Universidad de Chile. Before his PhD, he studied Computational Visualistics at Universität Magdeburg, and has offered web solutions for more than ten years.

Marian is interested in novel uses of visualization to support a wide range of information practices in the context of cultural collections and urban transformations.

Projects Contributions

Publications Published Works

Past Visions and Reconciling Views: Visualizing Time, Texture and Themes in Cultural Collections

— DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly. 11:2 2017

We present a case study on visualizing a collection of historic drawings along its metadata structure while also allowing for close examination of the artifacts’ texture. With regards to the specific character of cultural heritage at the intersection of research, education, and public interest, the presented visualization environment aims at meeting the requirements of both researchers as well as a broader public. We present the results from a collaborative interdisciplinary research project that involved a cultural heritage foundation, art historians, designers, and computer scientists. The case study examines the potential of visualization when applied to, and developed for, cultural heritage collections. It specifically explores how techniques aimed at visualizing the quantitative structure of a collection can be coupled with a more qualitative mode that allows for detailed examination of the artifacts and their contexts by displaying high-resolution views of digitized cultural objects with detailed art historical research findings. Making use of latest web technologies, the resulting visualization environment allows for dynamic filtering and zooming of a collection of visual resources that are arranged along a contextualized timeline. We share insights from our collaborative design process and the feedback and usage data gathered during the deployment of the resulting prototype as a web application. We end with a discussion of transferability of carefully crafted and collaboratively negotiated visualizations of cultural heritage and raise questions concerning the applicability of our approach to related strands of humanities research.

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Von sammlungsspezifischen Visualisierungen zu nachnutzbaren Werkzeugen

— in: Konferenzband zur DHd 2017 Bern - Digitale Nachhaltigkeit 2017

Die Entwicklung digitaler Werkzeuge lässt sich als wichtiger Teilbereich in den Digital Humanities identifizieren (Davis und Kräutli 2015; Schnapp et al. 2009). Entsprechende Forschung und Projektarbeit steht dabei komplexen Herausforderungen gegenüber. Nicht nur die Frage nach verfügbaren Daten, methodologischer Fundierung und technologischer Umsetzbarkeit, sondern auch die Frage nach deren langfristigen Verfügbarmachung sind wiederkehrende Themen in den Diskursen der letzten Jahre. Eine zentrale Rolle für die Sicherstellung von Qualität und Anwendbarkeit der digitalen Werkzeuge, die sowohl für textbasierte Forschung als auch im Bereich der Kunstgeschichte und Bildwissenschaften entwickelt werden, ist die Einbindung von Forscher_innen der jeweiligen geisteswissenschaftlichen Disziplinen im Entwicklungsprozess (Drucker 2013). Gleichzeitig lässt sich die zentrale Bedeutung von Interfacedesign, Nutzungsanleitungen und Benutzerfreundlichkeit als wichtige Faktoren für die Etablierung von digitalen Werkzeugen im Forschungsprozess feststellen (Gibbs und Owens 2012). Doch selbst wenn diese Herausforderungen bewältigt werden und ein digitales Werkzeug (erfolgreich) entwickelt wurde, stellt sich weiterhin die Frage, wie die langfristige Nachnutzung im Sinne einer digitalen Nachhaltigkeit sichergestellt werden kann. Am Beispiel des Entstehungsprozesses einer sammlungsspezifischen Visualisierung und deren Weiterentwicklung zu einem nachnutzbaren Werkzeug für diverse Bildbestände werden einige zentrale Aspekte der beeinflussenden Faktoren und Lösungsansätze vorgestellt. Unser Beitrag stellt sich somit der Frage, wie sichergestellt werden kann, dass digitale Tools auch über die Laufzeit von Förderprojekten hinaus (und unabhängig von spezifischen Use-cases) dauerhaft nutzbar und weiterentwickelbar sind.

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Museale Bestände im Web: Eine Untersuchung von acht digitalen Sammlungen

  • Viktoria Brüggemann
  • Sarah Kreiseler
  • Marian Dörk
— in: Konferenzband zur 23. Berliner Veranstaltung der internationalen EVA-Serie: Electronic Media and Visual Arts 2016

Museen erweitern ihr Vermittlungsangebot immer mehr über die physische Einrichtung hinaus, u.a. durch die Bereitstellung Digitaler Sammlungen im Web. Digitale Sammlungen zeichnen sich dadurch aus, dass die in ihnen gezeigten Objekte speziell für das Web aufbereitet und präsentiert werden. Der Anspruch besteht dabei darin, die Gesamtheit der musealen Sammlungen zur Verfügung zu stellen. Um diese umfassenden Datensätze zugänglich und ein Schlendern durch die Bestände zu ermöglichen, wird innerhalb der Digitalen Sammlungen zunehmend ein sogenannter Explore-Modus angeboten. Auf der Basis einer Untersuchung des Begriffes der Exploration wurden im Rahmen dieser Arbeit acht bekannte Museen im Hinblick auf die Explore-Modi ihrer Digitalen Sammlungen miteinander verglichen und analysiert. Es wurde eine dreiteilige Methode mit dem Namen Reverse Information Architecture entwickelt, um die folgende Frage zu beantworten: Wie manifestiert sich die Funktion der Exploration in der Struktur und den Interface-Elementen der Digitalen Sammlungen? Mit der entwickelten Methode wird der Inhalt der Websites analysiert, um zu untersuchen, inwiefern Konzepte der Exploration in den Digitalen Sammlungen umgesetzt werden.

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Staged Analysis: From Evocative to Comparative Visualizations of Urban Mobility

— Proceedings of the IEEE VIS Arts Program, VISAP'16 2016

In this paper we examine the concept of staged analysis through a case study on visualizing urban mobility exhibited in a public gallery space. Recently, many cities introduced bike-sharing in order to promote cycling among locals and visitors. We explore how citizens can be guided from evocative impressions of bicycling flows to comparative analysis of three bike-sharing systems. The main aim for visualizations in exhibition contexts is to encourage a shift from temporary interest to deeper insight into a complex phenomenon. To pursue this ambition we introduce cf. city flows, a comparative visualization environment of urban bike mobility designed to help citizens casually analyze three bike-sharing systems in the context of a public exhibition space. Multiple large screens show the space of flows in bike-sharing for three selected world cities: Berlin, London, and New York. Bike journeys are represented in three geospatial visualizations designed to be progressively more analytical, from animated trails to small-multiple glyphs. In this paper, we describe our design concept and process, the exhibition setup, and discuss some of the insights visitors gained while interacting with the visualizations.

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Linking structure, texture and context in a visualization of historical drawings by Frederick William IV (1795-1861)

— in: International Journal for Digital Art History; No 2 2016

In this article we present a case study on digital representation of the art historical research and metadata brought together for a scientific collection catalogue by the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg. The resulting interface aims at linking the structure and texture of a collection of drawings by Frederick William IV of Prussia (1795–1861) with additional contextual information. The article describes the context of the larger research project and presents the resulting visualization and interaction techniques specifically designed for dynamic exploration along time and subjects.

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Rewiring science-policy with visual information design

  • Owen Gaffney
  • Marian Dörk
  • Jason Dykes
  • Greg McInerny
  • Denise Young
— Future Earth Media Lab 2016
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Culturegraphy

— Leonardo 2016

Culturegraphy visualizes the exchange of cultural information over time. Treating cultural works as nodes and influences as directed edges the visualization of these cultural networks can provide new insights into the rich interconnections of cultural development such as movie references. All findings were made in a process that involved network scientists, a media theorist, and a sociologist. The role that visualization can play in bridging scientific communities was central to this work. In this sense, the resulting visualizations were process to bring researchers from different disciplines together. Traditionally using different methods, physicists increasingly ask similar questions as media theorists or sociologists as they study the dynamics in networks. Visualization can serve as a common language that brings fields together, shows differences, but also has its own idiosyncratic views.

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Archival Liveness: Designing with Collections Before and During Cataloguing and Digitization

  • Tom Schofield
  • David Kirk
  • Telmo Amaral
  • Marian Dörk
  • Mitchell Whitelaw
  • Guy Schofield
  • Thomas Ploetz
— DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly. 9:3 2015

We present “archival liveness” as a concept in design and the Digital Humanities and describe its development within a Research Through Design process. Working with a newly acquired archive of contemporary poetry we produced designs that both manifested and “geared in to” [Durrant 2011] [Gurwitsch 1979] the temporal rhythms of the work and infrastructure of archiving. Drawing on user-centred work with participants, often poets themselves, we focused on marginalia as a material feature of the archive, developing a drawing machine and live Twitter bot. Our work addresses institutional concerns for outreach and engagement while also acknowledging and exploiting the inevitably incomplete or live character of archival collections. For designers working with digital archives, we demonstrate the pragmatic and critical value of liveness as a focus of the design process.

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Museum im Display. Visualisierung kultureller Sammlungen (VIKUS)

— in: Konferenzband zur 22. Berliner Veranstaltung der internationalen EVA-Serie: Electronic Media and Visual Arts 2015

Im Rückgriff auf Ausstellungspraktiken im Museum stellt der Artikel Bezüge zwischen Erkenntnissen aus der Visualisierungsforschung und der Rezeption von Museumssammlungen in einem Ausstellungsdisplay her. Besondere Beachtung finden hierbei Makro- und Mikroperspektiven auf Sammlungen und Darstellungen im (digitalen) Display eines Museums. Visualisierungen können einen offenen und explorativen Zugang zu den digitalisierten Beständen bieten, der eher den Ausstellungs- und Vermittlungsaktivitäten des Museums entspricht oder diese ergänzt. Dabei werden die Potenziale der digitalen Präsentation herausgearbeitet und Anhand von Use Cases aus der Forschung illustriert, welche Ansätze in der facettierten und „kuratierten“ Inszenierung von Sammlungen umgesetzt werden können.

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Probing Projections: Interaction Techniques for Interpreting Arrangements and Errors of Dimensionality Reductions

— InfoVis 2015

We introduce a set of integrated interaction techniques to interpret and interrogate dimensionality-reduced data. Projection techniques generally aim to make a high-dimensional information space visible in form of a planar layout. However, the meaning of the resulting data projections can be hard to grasp. It is seldom clear why elements are placed far apart or close together and the inevitable approximation errors of any projection technique are not exposed to the viewer. Previous research on dimensionality reduction focuses on the efficient generation of data projections, interactive customisation of the model, and comparison of different projection techniques. There has been only little research on how the visualization resulting from data projection is interacted with. We propose a set of interactive visualization methods to examine the dimensionality-reduced data as well as the projection itself. The methods let viewers see approximation errors, question the positioning of elements, compare them to each other, and visualize the influence of data dimensions on the projection space. We created a web-based system implementing these methods, and report on findings from an evaluation with data analysts using the prototype to examine multidimensional datasets.

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Micro Visualizations: Data-driven typography and graphical text enhancement

  • Jonas Parnow
  • Marian Dörk
— InfoVis Poster 2015

At the intersection of information visualization and typography lies the design space of micro visualization, a family of basic techniques enriching text in regard of its accessibility, comprehensibility, and memorability. We propose a taxonomy that differentiates specific types of visualizations applied to text design and layout. We elaborate two main approaches to aligning the visual appearance of a text and its content. The first explores the addition of graphical elements embedded into or adjacent to a text, while the other approach explores the visual modification of a text by means of typographic visualization. For this we evaluate how different techniques can be used as visual variables.

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Are there networks in maps? An experimental visualization of personal movement data

— Poster at VIS 2015

Shifted Maps proposes a novel visualization method to generate personal geovisualizations of individual movement data. The resulting visual appearance can be characterized as a map network consisting of visited places and their connections. The visited places are shown as circular map extracts scaled according to the time spent there and the movements between the places are represented as edges between the places. A key feature of the Shifted Maps visualization is the possibility to explore the data in three different arrangements based on geo-spatial position, travel time, and frequency of movements. By combining map and network visualizations of movement data, it becomes possible to analyze and compare spatial and temporal topologies.

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Visualising the »Un-seen«: Towards Critical Approaches and Strategies of Inclusion in Digital Cultural Heritage Interfaces

— in: KuI (Kultur und Informatik) Cross Media. Busch et al. (Hrsg.) Berlin 2015

In recent years, access to cultural heritage has been closely connected to digitisation. We argue the case for recognising this digital shift as an opportunity to create interfaces to cultural heritage that are, first of all, more inviting to the public. Secondly, we want to encourage critical approaches towards the representation of cultural production and allow for alternative or even conflicting narratives and interpretations to surface. We present related work, use cases, and concepts for visualisations and interfaces that invite the reconsideration of modes of categorisation, presentation and clustering. Our intent is to develop ways to scrutinise modes of exclusion, carry out critical evaluations and pursue interventional strategies. We discuss the specific potential of visualisation, annotation and dynamic expansion of digital cultural collections. Building on critical approaches in human-computer interaction, visualisation and cultural theories, we explore how the interface could be a means of reflection, critique and inclusion.

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WordWanderer: A Navigational Approach to Text Visualisation

  • Marian Dörk
  • Dawn Knight
— Corpora 10(1),April 2015

Text visualisations provide visual representations of documents or small corpora with the primary aim of supporting language analysis. We are interested in developing a more playful approach to language that can be characterised by the notion of wandering as an open-ended movement. To support such a casual form of engagement with text, we designed the WordWanderer system: a visualisation technique that extends tag clouds into a navigational interface for text. The tool supports the gradual movement between word ‘context views’, which represent the words that co-occur in the vicinity of the selected word, and word-‘comparison views’, which arrange words based on their association strengths between two selected words. We report on the encouraging feedback from a ten-day deployment of the interface and present promising directions for future design and research.

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Visual Filter: Graphical Exploration of Network Security Log Files

— VizSec 2014

Network log files often need to be investigated manually for suspicious activity. The huge amount of log lines complicates maintaining an overview, navigation and quick pattern identification. We propose a system that uses an interactive visualization, a visual filter, representing the whole log in an overview, allowing to navigate and make context-preserving subselections with the visualization and in this way reducing the time and effort for security experts needed to identify patterns in the log file. This explorative interactive visualization is combined with focused querying to search for known suspicious terms that are then highlighted in the visualization and the log file itself.

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Weaving a Carpet from Log Entries: a Network Security Visualization Built with Co-Creation

  • Johannes Landstorfer
  • Ivo Herrmann
  • Jan-Erik Stange
  • Marian Dörk
  • Reto Wettach
— VAST 2014

We created a pixel map for multi-variate data based on an analysis of the needs of network security engineers. Parameters of a log record are shown as pixels and these pixels get stacked to represent a record. This allows a broad view of a data set on one screen while staying very close to the raw data and to expose common and rare patterns of user behavior through the visualization itself (the “Carpet”). Visualizations that immediately point to areas of suspicious activity without requiring extensive fltering, help network engineers investigating unknown computer security incidents. Most of them, however, have limited knowledge of advanced visualization techniques, while many designers and data scientists are unfamiliar with computer security topics. To bridge this gap, we developed visualizations together with engineers, following a co-creative process. We will show how we explored the scope of the engineers’ tasks and how we jointly developed ideas and designs. Our expert evaluation indicates that this visualization helps to scan large parts of log fles quickly and to defne areas of interest for closer inspection.

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Culturegraphy — Visualizing Cultural Network Dynamics

— AHCN 2014

Culturegraphy visualizes cultural information exchange over time. Treating cultural works as nodes and influences as directed edges, the visualization of these cultural networks can provide new insights into the rich interconnections of cultural development. The graphics represent complex relationships of movie references by combining macro views summarizing 100 years of movie influences with micro views providing a close-up look at the embedding of individual movies. The macro view shows the rise of the self-referential character of postmodern cinema, while the micro level illustrates differences between individual movies, when they were referenced and by whom. The visualizations provide views that are closer to the real complexity of the relationships than aggregated views or rankings could do.

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Monadic Exploration: Seeing the Whole Through Its Parts

  • Marian Dörk
  • Rob Comber
  • Martyn Dade-Robertson
— CHI 2014

Monadic exploration is a new approach to interacting with relational information spaces that challenges the distinction between the whole and its parts. Building on the work of sociologists Gabriel Tarde and Bruno Latour we turn to the concept of the monad as a useful lens on online communities and collections that expands the possibility for creating meaning in their navigation. While existing interfaces tend to emphasize either the structure of the whole or details of a part, monadic exploration brings these opposing perspectives closer together in continuous movements between partially overlapping points of view. We present a visualization that reflects a given node’s relative position within a network using radial displacements and visual folding. To investigate the potential of monadic exploration we report on an iterative design process of a web-based visualization of a highly cross-referenced book and its six-month deployment.

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Exploring the Promises and Potentials of Visual Archive Interfaces

  • Ko-le Chen
  • Marian Dörk
  • Martyn Dade-Robertson
— iConference 2014

A photo archive contains diverse narratives that only get partially exposed in digital interfaces. In this paper we explore a potential framework for archivists and designers to create photo archive interfaces that are sensitive to the ethos and social context of its content. We outline our approach to engaging with archival projects and present the results of a pilot workshop, which raised a range of complex questions about the design of visual interfaces. Our aim is to practically and conceptually expand how a visual interface would let a visitor access, explore, and interpret the contents of an archive. To do this we are interested in the different associations that people weave between the artefacts of an archive.

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Visually Exploring Books Along Their Subject Headings

  • Cody Coljee-Gray
  • Marian Dörk
  • Sheelagh Carpendale
— iConference 2014

We present a visualization of subject headings that typically accompany books as flat textual metadata. The purpose of the visualization is twofold: first to expose the implicit structure in subject headings as an overview of a library collection and second to present a visual web of keywords to invite exploration of books. Taking a tag cloud as a starting point, the visualization extends it to a networked tag cloud that respects the hierarchy that is implicit in subject headings. By allowing an information seeker to successively build a subject filter, while seeing the results at each step, we hope to improve the searcher’s orientation in a comprehensive book collection.

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Indexicality and Visualization: Exploring Analogies with Art, Cinema and Photography

  • Tom Schofield
  • Marian Dörk
  • Martyn Dade-Robertson
— C&C 2013

In this paper we offer a critical discussion of data visualization by adapting theories of indexicality as discussed in semiotics and art history. An indexical statement is broadly one whose meaning is dependent on context. We examine how indexicality has informed practices in cinema, photography, and contemporary art and make comparisons with data visualization. Specifically, we explore how these analogies can result in generative concepts that can inform the design and study of data visualization.

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Critical InfoVis: Exploring the Politics of Visualization

  • Marian Dörk
  • Christopher Collins
  • Patrick Feng
  • Sheelagh Carpendale
— CHI 2013

As information visualization is increasingly used to raise awareness about social issues, difficult questions arise about the power of visualization. So far the research community has not given sufficient thought to how values and assumptions pervade information visualization. Taking engaging visualizations as a starting point, we outline a critical approach that promotes disclosure, plurality, contingency, and empowerment. Based on this approach, we pose some challenges and opportunities for visualization researchers and practitioners.

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Accentuating Visualization Parameters to Guide Exploration

  • Marian Dörk
  • Heidi Lam
  • Omar Benjelloun
— CHI 2013

We present a new method for displaying visualization parameters to guide casual data exploration. When visualizing datasets with large parameter spaces it can be difficult to move between data views. Building on social navigation and degree-of-interest visualization, we propose the concept of accentuation as the selection and emphasis of visualization parameters based on social and semantic signals. We describe how we designed an accentuated visualization interface, and discuss open challenges and directions for future research.

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PivotPaths: Strolling through Faceted Information Spaces

  • Marian Dörk
  • Nathalie Henry Riche
  • Gonzalo Ramos
  • Susan Dumais
— InfoVis 2012

We present PivotPaths, an interactive visualization for exploring faceted information resources. During both work and leisure, we increasingly interact with information spaces that contain multiple facets and relations, such as authors, keywords, and citations of academic publications, or actors and genres of movies. To navigate these interlinked resources today, one typically selects items from facet lists resulting in abrupt changes from one subset of data to another. While filtering is useful to retrieve results matching specific criteria, it can be difficult to see how facets and items relate and to comprehend the effect of filter operations. In contrast, the PivotPaths interface exposes faceted relations as visual paths in arrangements that invite the viewer to `take a stroll’ through an information space. PivotPaths supports pivot operations as lightweight interaction techniques that trigger gradual transitions between views. We designed the interface to allow for casual traversal of large collections in an aesthetically pleasing manner that encourages exploration and serendipitous discoveries. This paper shares the findings from our iterative design-and-evaluation process that included semi-structured interviews and a two-week deployment of PivotPaths applied to a large database of academic publications.

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Navigating Tomorrow’s Web: From Searching and Browsing to Visual Exploration

  • Marian Dörk
  • Carey Williamson
  • Sheelagh Carpendale
— TWEB 2012

We propose a new way of navigating the Web using interactive information visualizations, and present encouraging results from a large-scale Web study of a visual exploration system. While the Web has become an immense, diverse information space, it has also evolved into a powerful software platform. We believe that the established interaction techniques of searching and browsing do not sufficiently utilize these advances, since information seekers have to transform their information needs into specific, text-based search queries resulting in mostly text-based lists of resources. In contrast, we foresee a new type of information seeking that is high-level and more engaging, by providing the information seeker with interactive visualizations that give graphical overviews and enable query formulation. Building on recent work on faceted navigation, information visualization, and exploratory search, we conceptualize this type of information navigation as visual exploration and evaluate a prototype Web-based system that implements it. We discuss the results of a large-scale, mixed-method Web study that provides a better understanding of the potential benefits of visual exploration on the Web, and its particular performance challenges.

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Fluid Views: A Zoomable Search Environment

  • Marian Dörk
  • Sheelagh Carpendale
  • Carey Williamson
— AVI 2012

We present Fluid Views, a web-based search environment designed to bridge overview and detail by integrating dynamic queries, semantic zooming, and dual layers. The most common form of search results is long ranked and paginated lists, which are seldom examined beyond the top ten items. To support more exploratory forms of information seeking, we bring together the notion of relevance with the power of visual encoding. In Fluid Views, results portray relevance via size and detail in a dynamic top layer and semantic similarity via position on a base map. We designed Fluid Views with temporal, spatial, and content-defined base maps for both textual and visual resources, and tested our prototype system on books, blogs, and photos. Interviews with library professionals indicate the potential of Fluid Views for exploring collections and exciting directions for future research.

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Visualizing Explicit and Implicit Relations of Complex Information Spaces

  • Marian Dörk
  • Sheelagh Carpendale
  • Carey Williamson
— Information Visualization journal 2012

In this work, we describe how EdgeMaps provide a new method for integrating the visualization of explicit and implicit data relations. Explicit relations are specific connections between entities already present in a given data set, while implicit relations are derived from multidimensional data based on similarity measures. Many data sets include both types of relations, which are often difficult to represent together in information visualizations. Node-link diagrams typically focus on explicit data connections while not incorporating implicit similarities between entities. Multidimensional scaling considers similarities between items; however, explicit links between nodes are not displayed. In contrast, EdgeMaps visualize both explicit and implicit relations by combining graph drawing and spatiatization techniques. We have applied this technique to three case studies [philosophers, painters, and musicians] and explored how integrated visualizations of explicit and implicit relations reveal novel patterns and relationships.

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