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The digital magazine of InfoVis.net

Resources on InfoVis: where is the added value?
by Juan C. Dürsteler [message nº 2]

Ok. Information visualisation is really an interesting topic but, where do I find information resources on the issue?. And, more important, how much time will I waste following links that finally will not interest me?.

There are many lists of links to webs that deal with Visualisation, Information Design, Usability, etc. For instance, Jerry Isdale's big list on InfoVis contains a large list of resources divided in several categories like: Academic, Events, Government, Journals, Links, Papers, People, Products and Reference. 

Although somewhat outdated it's very commendable due to its completeness. However, there is no hint on the contents of the links, so you have to follow them to see what kind of resource does the link contain.

The European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) maintains a long list of resources on Visualisation in general, with a strong emphasis in Scientific Visualisation. There is a small section on Information Visualisation. The advantage of the list relies on the fact that all the links are annotated. This way you can have an idea of what you can get from the link before deciding whether to follow it or not. 

A step further is done in the pages maintained by Gary Ng, a PhD student in the University of Manchester. In this web site the interest relies, not only in the comments on each link (sometimes too brief) but mainly in the organisation, more rational and easier to follow than in other sites. 

And this takes us to the key point: where is the added value of a list of links?. In order to be effective a list should contain extra information to be able to evaluate the relevance of a link without having to follow it to its associated web site. 

Annotations and comments are an important advance. But a further step in added value would be that the information associated to the links could be interactively pre-visualised in a way that could help us to decide on its relevance.

The "Atlas of Cyberspace" web site is an excellent example of a "list" of links in which the organisation, comments and graphics give a very good idea of what can be expected from a particular link. 

Absolutely recommended.

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