Category Archives: infovis

Twitter and the new scholarly ecosystem

This is a copy of a guest post I wrote for the LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog: In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee created the Web as a tool for scholarly communication at CERN. In the two decades since, his creation has gone on to transform practically every enterprise imaginable–except, somehow, scholarly communication.  Here, instead, we [...]

my.altmetrics.org: alt-metrics for your CV

The PLoS alt-metrics study is moving well; we’ve transitioned to an open notebook built on GitHub (which is awesome and a good topic for another post) and findings are starting to emerge. I’m starting to think about next steps, and to me the obvious one is to build a frontend for our crawler–giving working scholars [...]

Has journal commenting failed?

It’s a great idea: take all the insights, suggestions, and criticisms on scholarly articles, the comments shared in journal clubs and scribbled in margins the world over, and make them accessible to everyone. Attach them to the article itself; make it a conversation, not an artifact. We have blog commenting, video commenting–why not article commenting? [...]

MEDLINE literature growth chart

We all know the volume of scientific literature is growing.  I went looking for an infographic showing this, but wasn’t satisfied with what I found, so I made one, based on the publication dates of articles in MEDLINE. I got the data by searching PubMed with the query (“[year]“[Publication Date])where [year] was each year from [...]

Markup languages: who’s who?

Is HTML XML?  This question came up in a conversation with Sarah and @k8lin, and ended up being harder than I thought it’d be.  There seems to be a fair amount of confusion on the topic, especially given the W3C’s recent abandonment of XHTML 2.0 and growing use of HTML5. So, I decided to lay [...]

Portrait of the artist as a phrenology illustration

The first assignment in my infoVis class was to make a visual introduction to ourselves.  I drew a self-portrait in profile, then added my categorized interests in the style of a 19th-century phrenology illustration (compare with actual period illustrations here and here). Phrenology is interesting stuff.  Though phrenologists had nearly everything wrong, modern neuroimaging has [...]

$35 homemade whiteboard coffee table

Whiteboards are great infovis tools, but expensive and need space.  Solution: the whiteboard coffee table.  It’s the very poor man’s Microsoft Surface (with no BSOD!).  Also, if your taste in home decor tends toward the spartan (as does mine), this makes a great dinner table; it’s durable and really easy to clean.  Most importantly, it’s [...]

Prezi: presentation junk 2.0

It’s 2009.  I think everyone out there knows that Powerpoint is, at best, overused (at worst:Stalin).  Particularly gruesome is the animated slide-transition “feature,” which I think most agree has the same communication effectiveness and subtle charm as “<blink>” tags, mouse-cursor trails, and hilarious animated gifs of cats. So how is it that presentation tool Prezi [...]

FeedVis 2.0: custom visualization for your feeds

My FeedVis project–the interactive tagcloud for a group of feeds–has been out for a week now, I’ve been thrilled at the positive response I’ve gotten so far.  One rather glaring problem with the program, though, was that you could only look at the top 50 edublogs. Not anymore.  After a few late nights, I’ve got [...]

FeedVis: a deeper tagcloud for edublogs

Tagclouds have value, but, as I’ve written before, they’ve a number of shortfalls as well.  I’ve just finished my attempt to remedy some of these problems: FeedVis.  It’s an animated tagcloud that lets you compare word frequencies accross different time periods and authors, then check out the posts that used the words.  The demo is [...]