Information Design Watch
December 8, 2004, 2:55 pm
In the mid 90s, artists Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid used professional market research surveys to create a series of “most wanted” and “least wanted” paintings. Still available on the Web, the project can be seen as a case of audience analysis taken too far:
“In an age where opinion polls and market research invade almost every aspect of our ‘democratic/consumer’ society [the] project poses relevant questions that an art-interested public, and society in general often fail to ask: What would art look like if it were to please the greatest number of people?” (from the Director’s Introduction)
Getting beyond the parody, the paintings make for interesting viewing, especially in comparison to each other. Mapped to a large body of real data, they represent an enigmatic, but perfectly valid example of visual explanation.
December 8, 2004, 2:53 pm
The OCLC Online Computer Library Center has compiled a list of the “Top 1000″ published works, based on the holdings of its member libraries. While somewhat an exercise in trivia (check out the “Factoids” page), the OCLC’s researchers have effectively created a book list “hub” with multiple ways to view their own list and links to many other “top books” lists.
December 8, 2004, 2:48 pm
This past month, National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Bruce Cole announced a project with the U.S. Library of Congress to place 30 millions pages of old newspapers online:
“Now, with this new digital program, you will see the papers just as they were–you will be able to search the actual page. The technique is OCR–optical character recognition. In fact, there is already a model up on the Library of Congress site. It’s got the Stars and Stripes from World War One. It shows you the whole page and there’s a zoom device so you can focus in on a single story and be able to read it. It’s key word searchable. It’s a quantum leap from trying to read microfilm.”
The archive will start in 1836, the point at which the OCR technology can read typical newspaper type, and end in 1922, after which copyright issues come into play. However, all newspapers published in the United States, from 1690 to the present, will be included in an associated online bibliography.
To see how the technology works, you can go to the Library of Congress’ Stars and Stripes archive and select any issue:
December 8, 2004, 2:44 pm
Google’s new “Scholar Google” (http://scholar.google.com/) is a public search engine specifically targeted to scholarly information. Of interest are the implications of Google’s typically terse recommendations for submitting and accessing different kinds of content. Regarding abstracts, for example, Google requires open access:
“Regardless of the source, you should be able to see an abstract for any article, with the exception of those that are offline and referenced in citations only. Please let us know if you don’t see even an abstract.”
These are issues we’ve encountered many times in our work for university publishers and professional associations. Google’s recommendations are likely to start turning good practices into industry standards.
Google Scholar is generating a lot of interest online; here are two reports: