Kategoriarkiv: Thoughts and ideas

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Graphs, triagrams and national strategic foresight panel

I had another really meaningful meeting with former GapMinder staff Jörgen Abrahamsson and Professor Jonas Löwgren at Medea, Malmö Högskola this tuesday. Jonas documented it really well and put it up here, including a video where we all speak swedish to the pretty pictures :-)

I was really baffled by Jörgens triagrams and their simplicity and look forward to get going on showing some quadragrams together with Jörgen soon. Bertin keeps coming up as a fundamental I still haven’t caught up on.

The feedback on the experiments on the graphs I played with using Jung incorporated in Processing was good and healthy. I really need a good real-world case to test my gut instinct on the effectiveness of my twisting the algorithms. I still feel there is something really good is lurking in them.

The strategic foresight panel Jonas spoke about gives me hope for some good government funding for visualization in general in sweden and hope they keep their good work going.

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An App

I did this app (Todo Important & Urgent) a year ago for the iPhone. Trying to wrap my head around Objective-C was quite fun. Different way of thinking, but nice to deal with in general even if it got kind of messy at the end when it came to releasing it with provisioning etc. Gah. I realised quite quickly that I would not be doing Processing kind of things in Objective-C. So trying to make a simple kind of app and give it a twist was the choice for me. I think it worked even if the time spent making it hardly makes up for the result (or the money). Still, its visual and shows todo-items in a different way. And of course, it costs lowest-tier. Why else would I even try it out when I got Processing.  And then I found iProcessing. Not Objective-C but a great feeling to see Processing code in Xcode :-)

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Summary of Visual Enterprise actions & events fall 2008

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Originally posted December 13

Since a couple of days before vacation started last summer, alot has happened. At that time I had a rough sketch of the structure with nodes displayed in 3D, made with processing. I’m still sketching in processing for implementation in the bigger project if the experiment/sketch worked as intended.

Since then we made a larger transition of the codebase to the Evolver project and named it Lucid. Lucid is the word for dreaming while being awake. I had to grab the real java book and catch up on some javaprogramming. Small steps were taken in the javaenvironment. But enough to make some serious test with the geography. Also the biggest step was to check how it worked with Evolver. It does a fine job even if the speed in the 3D-rendering could be better. A closer look at JMonkeyEngine perhaps?

Some research as to decisionmaking was also made. How could we use our excellent model to present things and deliver recommended actions on areas that has never been done before? Especially from one and the same interface. A lot of interesting formations were made prior to that moment this summer. I have to remember those in the future, they might contain some good stuff for later situations.

There was also a wanted entrance to the information as a whole, by entering the information either by what you want to do, or by some sort of strategic tool that would be relevant for top management. Tests were made and some aha-revelations occured.

I realise now that we have come a long way from that initial feeling of wanting to show the structure. I clearly see that we can not only show the structure, we can show knowledge, relations, comprehension and thereby deliver something really unique. How is the big question right now. What does it look like? How many parts of this thing are there? Infinte? Should we make modules? Like the Geography part? But I found that we now have some rails to hang on to when we enter this mass of questions and wanted answers.

Tools

Data Visualisation, Scientific Visualisation and Information Visualisation. They all have to play their part in this grand scheme I think. Which one will work the hardest is yet to decide. Data visualisation was introduced just last week. Prior to that we had nothing in this field which tells me how far we have left to go or run. I know that uttering these vastly separate disciplines in the same sentence might make some people frown and perhaps they are right. This is information visualisation. Not scientific. Yet I cannot think of all the things we want to show without using the strengths from all these disciplines to convey the information and knowledge we need. Perhaps… Oh nevermind.

Perspectives

Custom perspective
The different perspectives derived from the Balaced scorecard could be called ”custom perspectives” and there is also the information perspectives.

Information perspectives
Search/find focus – Focusing on the ability to find a specific piece of information. (What location does headquarters have?) Structure focus – Focusing on the structure of information, relations and other types of connections. (What does an organisation consist of?) Result focus – Focusing on displaying the result of structures and data. (How much did we sell last month? What capabilities does an organisation have?) Comprehension focus – Focusing on the knowledge and the overall understanding of a given situation. (How does the organisation work/function?) Consequence focus – Focusing on the consequences of the result derived from specific structure. Given specific results – rule-based consequences could suggest recommended actions. (Is last months result good or bad? Is my current organisation optimal given my wanted result?)

These different perspectives married with the different tools really help sorting out whats what and purpose driven visuals. At least up until we can see what kind of limits they have. We need some serious competence to guide us through all this.

Highlights from fall 2008

- The proof of the technology in late May 2008. It was a good day when I saw those wiggly edges that was ending up in nodes that actually came from Evolver. So nice.
- The map of the world. September 2008. I resisted too long to put a geographical map in the demo, since I thought it to be too simple. Now it is the champion for the whole thing since it is so easy to understand and relate to.
- The structuring of theories involved. September 2008. The presentation ”Visualisation Basics” was really nice to further communicate this project internally.
- The *Big-company-name-here* presentation. November 2008. To work with Eero, Karin & Jan on this was fantastic. It made me jump several steps further than I thought I could.
- The LU lecture. December 2008. The lecture at Lund University forced me to structure theories and the work I had done. Something, or rather alot is still missing or is incoherent (which is the only thing that makes me nervous at presentation time – I really hate that) and realising that made me able to jump another four steps in my head.

Summing up 2008

So the summary would be, I have had far too little time to devote to this. My planned time is 50% of my total number of hours but the reality is perhaps 20%. And the structure and plan for this has to become much more rigorous. It really has to be split into different categories of problems to be well structured. And then prioritised. The fall has been spent quite good now in looking back, since alot of iterations has to be made in alot of different categories of problems. The guestlecture on Lund University really made alot come alive and forced to be presentable and understandable. This was a very good thing since I realised alot of things during this time. Like the power of it. And like the entrance. What on earth should the entrance to this information be like? What would be seen when entered? What does the complete enterprise really look like? Is it a double helix lookalike? What could we learn from that picture if so be it? Anything, but a cool unique image?

I think the mode of zooming in and out in different information areas could be interesting from a knowledge perspective. Having several information areas compared, zooming in and out on the details and comparing patterns, perhaps time differentiated, with each other could be a way of ”analysing” or getting a feel for the information in there. Getting a feel is not to be taken lightly. Sometimes you could actually have a sense of where you find things even if you don’t really know for certain, but it gives you a starting point.

And why are we doing this?
Well, we don’t just want to look at the structure like I thought initially. We want to get hard core knowledge from this. We want to have consequences presented to us. We want to comprehend how the enterprise really works and functions. What is loose ends in the enterprise and why are they still loose? What is not on target in the enterprise and what is? We want to see the current state and lab with the future state of the enterprise. We want to fully understand the nature of the complete enterprise and thus allow for decisions to be made based on facts rather than instinct or complacency. That’s why.

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Search results using ShapeNet

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I thought I’d show this idea. I wrote this in october last year in Processing 0148 (nice version btw).

The main purpose of ShapeNet is to get myself to look at more than the first 10 hits of a search at Google. If I only evaluate 10 out of 2.5 million hits, or even click ”next ten” two(!) times, I haven’t looked at more results than in this one ”page” and yet bored in the process. Some people may argue that they get what they want in the first page. I still just have to believe that there might lie some hidden goodies behind on of those 2.5 million hits.

The display of the searchresults are focused on the summary since this is the main ”persuader” of how the page is related to my own intentions. The potential for several enhancements (categorisation/animation/colors) is not yet fully explored. And, it puts the ”surfing” back in websurfing.

You find the whole thing, downloadable and all, under the page ShapeNet in the menu above.

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Clear design language in visualisations?

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Read a board post at Core77 about design language. Always nice to get more input here. I am quite fascinated by this. And found this link to Mazdas Batmanesque design language on a concept car.

I’m just thinking when do we get this clear design language in visualisations on a broader base. I see alot of charactersitic things from some of the greatest companies, but there is still alot of generic stuff out there.