November 26th, 2008

SEED mag – State of science

Seed magazine features a short text and interview about my work as part of the informatics chapter of their state of science 2008 dossier. Nice!

November 19th, 2008

Talk at BTK today

Short notice: I will re-play my xtopia talk from yesterday today at BTK Berlin at 5pm. Partly presenting my own work, plus a discussion of visualizations around the US presidential elections.

Update: Slides are online. Will upload the missing videos (blank slides) soonish on vimeo. Please excuse the funky template, that was part of the xtopia requirements…

November 3rd, 2008

Election visualization roundup

With the US presidential elections coming up tomorrow (exciting!), here is a little roundup of related visualizations and information graphics I enjoyed: → read more

September 23rd, 2008

VizThink ’08

I will have a session at VizThink ’08 about visual tools for the socio-semantic web.

You can find a podcast interview with me about the session and ongoing work here.

The (preliminary) session abstract reads

In this break-out session at VizThink 08, Moritz Stefaner will present visual strategies to understand and discuss emergent information architectures in the web. Phenomena like the mainstream acknowledgement of the web as a social platform, and the first steps towards a semantic web (as envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee a decade ago) demand for new approaches to information handling. Following the research agenda for web science, visualization can not only help to understand these emrging structures, but also to shape and steer interface design. We will discuss and criticize existing and cutting-edge approaches to search and browsing of resources and the visualization of conceptual structures.

So, I planned to show some of my thesis work, and on-going work like the MACE project, and make some general positions statements about where things should head in this area. But the rest is pretty open – for those attending – what are you interested in? Happy about short comments!

Btw: If you plan to register, use the discount code DCFF23 to get 50 € discount!

September 16th, 2008

mæve interactive installation

After much blood, sweat and cable guy issues, we could finally present the interactive installation mæve for the EveryVille student competition at the La Biennale in Venice.

In short, the installation works like this: visitors can pick up little cards representing the exhibits. Putting them on the table will draw an associative, organic network of tags, media and related projects around them. If you put multiple cards on the table, the visualization will form “bridges”, looking for direct or indirect connections between the projects.

The installation has been designed and developed by the MACE project team of the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam and made possible by many others (credits).

You can find more info and media on the mæve project website.

Technically, the installation is built with Processing, using the Gestalt framework.
For the card tracking, the Reactivision 1.4 software was used. The interactive table was built by Werk5.

By the way, if you blog about this, make sure to link to the original project page – not this blog post – thanks!

August 28th, 2008

Talks, talks, talks

Some of my upcoming events:

FIND08 workshop Sept. 03, Torino I am just preparing a presentation on the Content Landscape application I designed for SVA BizSphere based on my elastic lists. It is quite a massive Flex application for browsing and analysing thousands of resources. Details to come.

Biennale Sept. 09, Venice Watch out, we’ll show something beautiful. Details to come.

MACE conference Sept. 20-21, Venice The MACE project project goes in its final year – time to get connected!

VizThink 08 Oct. 13-14, Berlin I am proud to be one of the facilitators (~workshop leaders) at the VizThink Conference. I haven’t decided on a topic yet, but it might well be related to visualization(oho!) and the semantic web. I am really looking forward to this event, sounds like a great format and the facilitator list is quite impressive already.

Xtopia Nov. 17,18, Berlin I will give an introductory talk about visualization and information design at Microsoft’s Xtopia Conference for “Business, Web Technology, Design & UX”.

Busy times huh – let me know if you attend one of these events and want to meet up!

August 26th, 2008

Running the numbers

Seeing Chris Jordan‘s TED talk (embedded below) just made me remember his great work in visualizing large numbers of things going wrong.

About his latest project, Running the numbers, he writes:

Running the Numbers looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 32,000 breast augmentation surgeries in the U.S. every month. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. Employing themes such as the near versus the far, and the one versus the many, I hope to raise some questions about the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.
August 14th, 2008


David Huynh has recently joined the freebase team, after having worked on Exhibit and other SIMILE tools at MIT. His new project Parallax is obviously based on Exhibit (which followed mostly a faceted filtering paradigm) but demonstrates a really interesting “sidewards browsing technique” for navigating related sets of different types of entities.

As an example, you could start with a set of architects, then filter down to all modern architects, plot them on a map, a timeline etc. – quite nice already, but traditional facet browsing in principle. The catch however, is that you can explore related collections, like the buildings they designed, their birth places etc. in the same manner. Very interesting principle and nicely executed, yet a bit hard to explain.

In this screencast, David explains it himself:
Freebase Parallax: A new way to browse and explore data from David Huynh on Vimeo.

As a side remark: academically, I think the Humboldt paper by Georgi Kobilarov first presented this principle (but they also refer to an earlier prototype of David’s work). Unfortunately it was introduced under the name of pivot browsing, which is sort of reserved already for the quite related, but not identical principle introduced in dogear.

Any ideas for a good name? Sidewards browsing? Entity shift? Or just stick with parallax?

July 7th, 2008

Physical visualization

Automaten–Andreas created a beautiful new project together with Benjamin Maus:


Essentially, the waveforms of a musical piece by Frans de Waard were rendered as a sculpture with a CNC Milling Machine.

This project sort of follows a week in the life, another physical visualization, where a week of location data of the author is mapped in a wooden cartogram. A week in the life

June 30th, 2008


Some interesting work from the Bergstrom Lab at the department of Biology(!), University of Washington.

(PDF version here, more info here)

Based on citation patterns, they calculated an information flow model of how scientific disciplines are influencing each other. While I cannot follow all the technical details, I really appreciate the well-designed diagrams. Quite interesting to see an “a posteriori” order of scientific disciplines based on the actual flow of information!

An explanation of the diagrams from the

Orange circles represent fields, with larger, darker circles indicating larger field size as measured by eigenfactor. Blue arrows represent citation flow between fields. An arrow from field A to field B indicates citation traffic from A to B, with larger, darker arrows indicating higher citation volume. The map was creating using our information flow method for mapping large networks. Using data from Thomson Scientific’s 2004 Journal Citation Reports (JCR), we partitioned 6128 journals connected by 6,434,916 citations into 88 modules. For visual simplcity, we show only the most important links, namely those that a random surfer traverses at least once in 5000 steps, and the modules that are connected by these links.

There is also an interactive version online based on my good old Relation Browser. But honestly, I think the diagrams work much better.

Overall a great example of interdisciplinary research, where presentation and information design play together nicely with interesting+relevant analysis – exemplary!