Linked Data: Visualizing for Navigation?

From the start, I’ve wondered how we will navigate in a linked data environment. How will we explore an information space where every data element is linked to every other data element? How will we keep track of where we are and where we’ve been? We won’t have physical cues anymore and the navigation systems we are familiar with grew out of our interaction with those physical cues (e.g. think card catalogue to online catalogue).

I happened on a rather obscurely named blog this week called, “The SemVis Blog.” The subtitle, or catch phrase, is much more telling: “Semantic Web, Linked Data and Visualisation.” There are some fantastic resources here dealing with visualization and I’m hoping that this kind of research will lead to navigation tools we can use to negotiate linked data sets.

The author is Jan Polowinski who started this blog in 2010 so he could record his thoughts and ideas related to the PhD project he was working on: “Flexible Visualizations of Semantic Web Data.” He now uses this blog as a vehicle to discuss and publish about “visualisation of semantically rich or linked open data.”

He is currently working on a new project that’s part of the eScience Network which sounds very useful.

“The goal of this project is to build a visualisation framework for linked data and then instantiate it for the publication domain. Hence, the focus of this blog will (temporarily) shift to the specifics of visualising bibliographic data and how to gather it from open sources.”

Polowinski also provides links to his publications and presentations. The most recent presentation talks about RDFS/OWL Visualisation Language (RVL) something he developed for his PhD thesis. In his last blog post he provides an example of using RVL for visual mapping using data from CiTO, the Citation Typing Ontology. He promises more examples will come.

Definitely something to keep an eye on.

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