July 24, 2007, 9:59 am
Visualizing Network Dynamics
By Lisa Agustin
The submissions from this year’s Visualizing Network Dynamics competition (part of the larger NetSci07 meeting) represent an intriguing collection of the different ways to represent the complex structures of dynamic networks. A mix of both movies and still visualizations covering a wide range of subjects, including citation pathways in BioMed Central, ideological alliances on the Supreme Court, and editing patterns on Wikipedia (above), the entrants all set about to map real world networks that are dynamically evolving over time in response to their usage. This year’s winner was Aaron Koblin’s Flight Patterns Movie, an animation of North American flight travel paths based on aircraft data collected by the Federal Aviation Administration. Set to music, this hypnotic visualization offers insights on multiple levels, including the environmental. According to one of the competition’s judges: “In an age of climatic crisis and carbon footprints, the [patterns] are rhetorically powerful as ecological visualizations showing the almost absurd degree of mobility in the USA.”
The rather profound flaw for the Flight Patterns Movie is that it is a movie. It should be interactive, allowing, if nothing else, a user to pan forward and backward in time. Since the data identifies flights by type (by plane? by carrier?), one should have controls to filter the display accordingly.
The reaction of the judge quoted above is telling. Martin Dodge views the eye candy and supplies his own completely external conclusion. Since the movie cannot be used for actual analysis, what else can he do?
Posted by Henry Woodbury on July 24, 2007 at 11:07 am
Point taken– the first time I watched the movie, I couldn’t help but think of my earlier post on evaluating info visualizations.
Posted by Lisa Agustin on July 24, 2007 at 11:20 am