Organizing the multitude of information on the Web

26 09 2007

For those of you who are tech-inclined, you’ve probably heard lots of talk about the need to consolidate and organize web content (videos, photos, articles, blog posts) so that its navigatable and “less messy” than it currently is. When you search for data on a certain topic, you have to separately search for articles in Google, videos on YouTube/Veoh and photos on Flickr/Google Images/Picasa. Then again, you might not get the relevant results you are looking for unless you patiently sieve through the content yourself especially when it comes to video and photo searches.

However, a computer scientist, Jonathan Harris, came up with a concept of organizing data via visual data design which holds promises of a more organized world wide web that is soon to come. In his video presentation at TED.com, Jonathan talks about 3 projects he has worked on which demonstrates this:

1) We Feel Fine
– interesting project that searches through all blog posts for human emotions and compiles all these sentences with human emotions together. It will automatically analyze the data into various categories like “popular emotion of the day” based on demographics, gender, weather, and etc.

2) Yahoo! Time Capsule
– Somehow I didn’t really get the essence of this project. It just seems like a project where people submitted photos to and Yahoo! organized it with some quotes and captions. Maybe I missed what its all about?

3) Universe
– Now this is the solution all of us have been waiting for! A really cool project that organizes all the data visually into an easily navigatable format. Not only does it present the data visually, it pulls all the related photos, videos and articles on topics together. For example, if you were to search Bill Clinton on Universe, it will return results of newspaper articles on what he did in the past week. Upon clicking on a story, it will return more articles from different perspectives on the same story, related photos and videos. There’s also a data analyzation function which can plot a map of where Bill Clinton has been travelling to in the past week. In a way, you can say its an intelligent search engine that not only categorizes but analyzes data for its users.

Some of you may be thinking that this is just like any another search engine and I thought so too, until I watched the video and realized how much undiscovered potential there is in visual data organization and design. It brings a whole new perspective to the field of Computer Science (especially for a student like me who thinks its just all about boring text programming) and what you can do with such knowledge. Yay! Computer Science rocks!

Anyway, enough jabbering from me. Here’s the video! Enjoy! ^_~

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