Sailing through the information

Posted on March 31, 2004

It’s funny how sometimes new things appear that are so similar to each other and they come out at almost the same time.

Just today I found two great new sites (or should I call them web applications?) that deal with visually navigating through information (a lot of it).

The first one is musicplasma.
In it you search for a music artist or band and it then shows you a graphical representation of other artists/bands which are “connected” or “close” to it and their relative “popularity”. The meaning of “connected”, “close” or “popular” are very loosely defined in the help section and I suspect are heavily dependant on the amazon sales list (the site seems to be fully implemented over amazon’s web services and the discography section sends you to the amazon’s buying page for each album. Oops, did I say album? Gosh, I might just as well have said record… I meant CD, sorry… :)).
A very interesting approach to the problem of searching for music under certain constraints.
Fred pointed me to this one.

The second site I found out about today was newsmap.
This one (ab)uses Google News and

provides a tool to divide information into quickly recognizable bands which, when presented together, reveal underlying patterns in news reporting across cultures and within news segments in constant change around the globe.

It takes some getting used to and works better when you actually change the default settings to only include topics that interest you (otherwise it is just too much information at once, even in this form. Unless you have something like a 23’ cinema display, in which case I hate you and don’t care about you anyway! ;)).
This one was brought to my attention via boingboing.

The musicplasma still feels like a (great looking) toy, because you get lost pretty quickly in the navigation and end up not buying anything, and you can’t choose (for example) which amazon site you would like to use to base your searches on, while the newsmap is a bit unusable due to too much information displayed on a (potentially) small space but it is rather interesting how this kind of things are not any longer just found on academia but are finding their way into the sights of the general public.