The Parsons Journal for Information Mapping (PJIM) is pleased to announce the launch and publication of its inaugural issue. This issue features four unique projects dealing with various facets in the fields of information mapping and visualization. Our submissions come from practitioners and researchers located throughout the world - from the Information Design Studio in Amsterdam (Netherlands) to The University of Alberta (Canada) to an independent artist and designer in New York City (United States).
The Editorial Board at PJIM extends its gratitude to our contributors for their hard work and dedication to our publication and we invite you to read and view these innovative explorations online and right in your web browser.
Brian Willison, Publisher
Parsons Journal for Information Mapping
by Aidan Rowe, MRes
by Jeremy Hight, MFA
by Katherine E. Behar, MA
by Gerlinde Schuller
Knowledge Diagrammatisation, Knowledge Documentation, Process Mapping, Social Software, Visualising Knowledge
This work investigates means of visualizing our past histories in relation to social software to better understand these online spaces, the inter-relationships they create and how we produce and document knowledge.
Continual developments have made it incredibly easy to interact with social software technologies, but in systems where we only see the latest iteration of a page what happens to the previous conversations and interactions? These contributions, sometimes accumulated over years and by hundreds of participants, are what makes these systems unique, and it is this process of contribution, negotiation, discussion and debate that is often hidden from us. What is unseen is arguably the most important and interesting part of this paradigm shift.
Missing is the opportunity to better understand and take advantage of these previous conversations and interactions—the steps that evidence how we got to here, the negotiations that took place, the deletions, and the refinement. This paper posits that by diagrammatizing this knowledge accretion process in social software systems, particularly in wikis, we can better understand our online social spaces, the inter-relationships they create and how we produce and document knowledge. I set out and re-examine the current dominant wiki models; I then classify, describe and explore two categories of wiki visualization artefacts, categories driven by the relationship between the contributor(s), the technologies and the wiki’s purpose. In each category I present prototypes—designed artefacts—to communicate the benefits of diagrammatizing these past conversations and interactions.
Aidan Rowe’s research and practice interests are in design and education. Recent practice-based work explores human computer interaction, net.art, and information aesthetics. Written and pedagogic work revolves around understanding and improving design education in practical and theoretical forms. He has lectured and taught design in Canada, Japan, and the UK.
Data, event, immersive, information, interactive, mapping, time
Time is plastic. Our linear measure is manmade. The oversimplification of minutes, hours, days is functional in a base utilitarian sense but fails to account for point of entry, context, point of view, the density of what is occurring in time and how it is thus experienced. Time is geometric; it also has the experiential component and this has height, width, variation and forms from point of view and processes differently with each individual. An event in time thus is not only to be measured in its variable detail, but also of its place in time. This is not a timeline.
An event in time is a collection of many smaller moments coalesced into measure. It is composed of factors, facts, contexts, scope, details and duration. An event begins, an event ends, but its true measure is not that simple, nor should it be; time is not to be caught and cleaned on a hook like a fish, nor is an event in time just a sequence of moments with a beginning and end. An event in time can be measured like a cumulus or a mountain range. It is not a timeline or chart. It is geometric by its very nature and is definitely not flat. It is a whole; it is segments. It is individual rises and falls of several parts at once at different rates and intervals. It is more akin to a cumulus, that puff of cotton cloud of so many paintings and postcards, for it also is something of a single form, yes, but much more.
What if the information is, instead, experienced in time and space and that can alter as one moves and chooses?
Jeremy Hight works in locative media, ar and immersive visualization. He is co-editing a special edition of LEA on immersive visualization. He created locative narrative. His essay “narrative archaeology” is considered seminal in locative media. He gave a keynote on a new mapping of information at In transition 2008.
Cartography, classification, geodemographics, GIS, glocalization, information retrieval, mass communication, privacy and technology, search engines, social software
This two-part paper explores the sources, motivations, and consequences of emergent online mapping activities, circa 2005. Online mapping, defined as mapping software applications and associated cultural practices that utilize the Internet as a primary infrastructural component, arises as an information retrieval technology, twice-over. Its technological ancestors are maps of territories in the form of geographic information retrieval technologies originating with remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, and maps of information in the form of Web-based information retrieval technologies that comprise search engines and website classification systems. Online mapping is a product of the convergence of these technologies which each had reached a critical tipping point with regard to data management.
This paper contends that to reduce and manage excessive amounts of information, each adopted strategies that retailored both Web-based and geographic information management to focus on the local as the site for globally scoped information retrieval. During the Cold War, a clash between the U.S. Air Force’s directive to amass untold quantities of uncalibrated satellite data and the Army’s mandate to systematize and manage that data produced the World Geodetic System and paved the way for the GIS technologies at the heart of Navteq and Google Maps. Now, as the amount of information on the Web grows exponentially, Web-based information retrieval technologies face a similar dilemma. Personalized search (epitomized by Google) and folksonomy (user-contributed keywords) are superceding top-down directory classifications (like the early Yahoo!).
Secondarily, while the cultural practice of mapping remains, above all, a matter of representation, this paper asserts that online mapping departs radically from traditional cartography. Online maps forsake the techniques and precepts of visual representation, as typified in centralized, perspectival systems of optics that aspire to global extent. Instead, engaging distributed, data-centric systems that operate locally, online maps achieve representation through what Philip Agre describes as technologies of informatic capture.
Three case studies (Google Maps, map hacks and mashups, and folksonomy-based neighborhood maps) employ this representational mode to produce maps of glocalities, indicating a cultural shift toward merging dominantly optical and dominantly informational worldviews, and toward infusing global networks with local practices.
Katherine Behar is an internationally exhibited interdisciplinary artist who lives and works in New York City. She has an abiding interest in the permeability between living and non-living systems. Behar has taught on the faculties of the Department of Film and Media Studies at Hunter College and the Department of Film, Video and New Media at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. www.katherinebehar.com
2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama, branding, communication strategies, information design, network structures, visual repertoire, visual vocabulary
The project is an analysis of the wide range of visuals which accompanied the 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama. Obama’s campaign was mounted on numerous platforms and provided and triggered multilayered applications of visual communication—logos, photos, icons, infographics, cartoons, graffiti, slogans, and gestures. The visual timeline shows a compilation of these images and describes the complex network structure which helped to organize support for his campaign. The project gives an indication of how ‘Obamania’ turned into a creative movement, and, in fact, how breaking news is currently communicated.
Gerlinde Schuller is head of the Information Design Studio in Amsterdam (NL). She is specialized in information design and visual journalism. Besides working on commissions for international clients, she teaches information design and writes about the discipline. She is co-author of the book ‘Making the Impossible Possible’ (2006) on economic superlatives and author of ‘Designing universal knowledge’ (2009) on complex knowledge collections.