Archive for February, 2007


A region is 65,536 sqm

A private island region costs either $195 per month or $295 per month depending upon when it was bought

Mainland pricing ranges from $3 per 1000 sqm to $10 per 1000 sqm

Manhattan Island is approximately 60 km2

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I am uploaded the data that Zee Linden provided and tried to create a few visualizatoins from IBM’s Many Eyes.


And I thought, I would have a go at a tree-map visualization. I prefere the tree-map, It is easier to compare various areas.


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Feb 3 2007

It is amusing how many of current Web 2.0 ideas can be traced back to many earlier efforts a decade or more ago. As a research student in the computing department at Lancaster University (UK), I was exposed to many Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) concepts which are now being implemented on a large scale. It is not unusual to see many of these ideas underlying the services of many current multi million dollar Web 2.0 companies. So it appears that the ideas themselves though important need to be executed well in order to be turned into usable services likely to generate revenue. I remember clearly during the CHI 1997 in Atlanta, there was a debate involving Ben Schneiderman (representing the Direct Interface manipulation camp) and Patty Maes (representing the "Agents camp"). The main problem being discussed was whether in the future (1)people will find information by drilling in to what they need through combinations of browsing and search or (2) people will have software "agents" that would find things for people based on interest profiles, ratings and so forth. Anyway’s, looks like it can be argued that what is emerging today is a "remix" of these two techniques.

Back to illustrate how those web 2.0 applications have roots that go pretty far back. When I was studying studying CSCW systems, the idea of collaborative editing or annotating was no big deal because it seemed to be a natural functionality of such systems. Of course, and thank god, there were a lot of naysayers around which made things needlessly more interesting than they deserve to be.

So some time around 1997, I was trying to integrate visualizations of reader opinion data with online documents shared by a community of readers. The system was implemented in Perl and Javascript. One main difference between what I was attempting and what Digg does is that in Digg, readers expressed opinions about articles while in what I proposed, readers expressed opinions about the "contents of the articles". Difference in granularity there. Anyway’s more details about my approach was published here (1998 Proceedings of the Workshop on Re-use of Web Information, held in conjunction with the 7th WWW Conference (Brisbane, Australia) ). I think that the problem of ordering articles according to reader interest is very effective and Digg of course does that well as the video below illustrates.

Figure 1 An overview of Digg

The video below shows my older experiments. I think the meaning of the icons I use in my interface are self explanatory, in fact, they look similar to the current ‘ thumbs up’ ‘ thumbs down’ ones that Digg use today.

Figure 2 An overview of my 1997 system where I was experimenting with various typographical variations to illustrate community opinions

Figure 3 Another clip illustrating more visualizations through typographical variations

Recently I came across some experiments that Digg is doing and illustrate their interest in exploring other visualization techniques for representing reader opinions rather than just ordering articles. Check out http://labs.Digg.com/bigspy/ Big Spy

Figure 4 Picture of Bigspy, the color and size of text represent information about reader opinions

I think it is really cool that Digg is now trying to push the envelope and explore other visualization methodologies.

The morale of this story is this. When I did this work as a student, I submitted a paper about it and while I got a rating of 5 from one reviewer, I also got a reviewer rating of 2. So if you are a student reading this, never despair if you get a poor review 🙂

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I am glad that this approach is gaining some traction and looks like this stuff is going to go commercial very soon. There are some interfaces that do not need to be evaluated. Just by looking at them, you KNOW that they are good designs. This is certainly one of them, and of course, I felt the same way when I saw the Wii. The ideas are not too recent but their implementation is of course ground breaking. video available here

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Digital Ethnography

This is an interesting take on the evolution of the web. I found it very educational. Very refreshing to see such enlightened anthropologists around.


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