– collaborative information visualization
February 23rd, 2007

Jeffrey Heer of Berkeley (who created the free Prefuse visualization library) and Fernanda B. Viégas and Martin Wattenberg of IBM Watson Research Center (who both worked on History Flow, ManyEyes and more) have written a research paper Voyagers and Voyeurs: Supporting Asynchronous Collaborative Information Visualization and posted a flash video of a demo site called From the abstract: “This paper describes mechanisms for asynchronous collaboration in the context of information visualization, recasting visualizations as not just analytic tools, but social spaces.”

I like that they are pushing visualizations from pretty-looking dead-ends into the world of Web 2.0 and interactivity. Sites like TheyRule demonstrate the importance of letting visitors create their own views of the data and save them as distinct URLs so they can be shared. Visualizations often do not do the most interesting pattern-sensing on their own, but good ones afford visitors the chance to find patterns collectively. I’ve said this here before, but I think there is an important tool yet to be designed that allows people to democratically vote on links between content in an interactive graph browser like Prefuse.

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