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Cybergeography: things aren't as they seem.
by Juan C. Dürsteler [message nº 4]

The way in which things are shown to us influences how we think about them. And, conversely, the way in which we visualise things reveals much of what we think about them, and about our mental processes.

At least this is what Fred Langa discusses in his interesting article "Visualizing Cyberspace" ( I’m in debt to Enric Fontdecaba for this link). Therefore, to develop a new way of visually representing an entity means to open up a new way of understanding it, from a different perspective. And vice-versa, to understand things in different ways can lead to visualising them in novel ways.

In message number 2 we’ve already seen the pages of 'An Atlas of Cyberspace'  as a way to present a list of resources on InfoVis. Nevertheless, this web site goes much further.

Those pages are only the showroom of a web site  devoted to the research of Cybergeography. The author of the web site is going to publish a book with an associated web on this topic next September. 

A walk through this site is enough to see the many perspectives from which Cyberspace visualisation can be reached. It will allow us to change also the way we imagine Internet, some times monolithically bound to the standard look of so many web sites.

Surely due to the huge complexity of the Net; the many representable parameters (physical links, routers, connected countries, traffic, etc), the visualisation of Internet resembles the Rorschach test. In this test a simple ink drop on a piece of folded paper can be perceived in multiple ways, depending on the psychology of the subject.

It’s also worth taking a look at this plot, from the excellent magazine mappamundi.net. In it you can see the interconnections between countries as ballistic missile trajectories (post cold war neurosis?).

Or in Peacock maps , where you can see (and buy) a map of Internet interconnections as of January 1, 2000, that resembles a network of interconnected neurons (does Internet think?).

All this leads us to a reflection: given that Information Visualisation is the art of making things understandable, how can we surpass the subjectivity that underlies many graphic representations?. Are we able to create completely new ways to understand Internet, and even the reality itself, opening new possibilities to comprehend it?.

Surely yes

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