Visualizing Information

My friend Matt blogged ReMail, a research prototype email client from the IBM Watson Research Center. Matt’s right that many of these features of ReMail are already in Outlook 2003 (List Seperators, Annotations, Threads, Collections). But what makes ReMail really cool is their visualizations. “The visualizations in Remail were designed to help people see connections between messages and people that would otherwise be invisible.” I’m going to need to read more about Thread Arcs.

This cool visualization reminds me of a research talk I got to see by Alison Lee from IBM Watson Research on campus a couple of weeks ago. Among other things, she showed off eTree: “A Browse and Query Interface for Online Communities”. Basically, its a tool for visualizing the activity of a web discussion forum (such as the ASP.NET Forums). In this idiom, each branch of the tree is a forum and each leaf on the tree is a thread. “Hot” threads become flowers on the branch. Older posts are dark green while newer posts are lighter. Members of the community are rendered as circles around the outside of the tree – selecting a user highlights the threads they have participated in.

What’s really exciting is that researchers are starting to look at blogging. I know lots of people were interested in the Wallop project from the MS Research Social Computing Group that was highlighted @ PDC. I want to see this technology make it into blogger tools.