Wednesday, May 1, 2013

'The Atlas of Science': Visualization at Indiana University

I just got back from a short trip to Indiana University, Bloomington. I was invited by Katy Börner, from the School of Library and Information Science, to present at the Networks and Complex Systems talk series. It was fun, as we had students from different departments, including many from the school of Journalism.*

I was already familiar with Katy's work. For instance, I signed up for her MOOC on information visualization after teaching mine, although I didn't have time to participate, unfortunately. Also, Katy's Atlas of Science: Visualizing What We Know has been in my reading list for quite a while. She generously gave me a copy as a present. It's a gorgeous book full of inspiring, beautiful, bizarre, quirky, and enjoyable maps (geographical and conceptual) and diagrams. Not to mention quotes like this one, by George Santayana:
Noise becomes data when it has a cognitive pattern. Data becomes information when assembled into a coherent whole, which can be related to other information. Information becomes knowledge when integrated with other information in a form useful for making decisions and determining actions. Knowledge becomes understanding when related to other knowledge in a manner useful in anticipating, judging and acting. Understanding becomes wisdom when informed by purpose, ethics, principles, memory and projection.
However, the fact that I had visited Katy's website in the past didn't prepare me for what I saw. Katy's team at the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, a healthy mix of curators, scientists, engineers, artists, and designers, produces a huge amount of impressive scientific and data visualization projects. Sometimes people in presentations and workshops ask me about academic departments to conduct advanced graduate and postdoc work. Bloomington is at the top of my list already.

Visit the map gallery of the book and browse through all its images.

* Thanks to Bonnie and Steve Layton for encouraging their multimedia journalism undergrads to participate.