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The project Related Pages [looksgood.de] consists of small, minimal force-directed network visualization located in the sidebar of a wiki webpage. The graph shows the "proximity" of the content on visited webpage in the context of a whole website. The visualization aims at offering the user an alternative possibility to navigate across the wiki from the School of the Arts in Schwäbisch Gmünd [hfg-gmuend.de], Germany.

Contrary to the conventional hierarchical way to navigate online (i.e. following an hierarchical "menu"), the focus of this kind of navigation is on the "proximity" (relevance?) of the content that is being displayed. The proximity of a page is calculated as followed: it must have at least 1 tag in common with the current page, being linked to the current page, being linked with outgoing links on the current page, or being at a level above in the breadcrumb-navigation.

The red dot represents the actual webpage. The gray tones denote the time since the last update of the webpage. The distance between the nodes conveys the distance of the content.




I've had a (far less interactive) equivalent on my site (pseudotheos.com) for a while now. Links are based on explicit "relatedness" (either symmetrical or parent/child) between items; the strength of the link is based on the proportion of the link among all the links for a given node (if an item has 20 outgoing links, none of them are very strong.) It works okay as long as you can keep the average number of links down; it works much more poorly if you start to cross-link content a lot. Cross-linking the way you would if you were assigning tags in gmail results in, well, our site: the site-wide graph is a huge mess that only my cat would have fun with, except for a few star networks floating out on their own (folder/image structures, primarily, and a few threaded conversations that are mostly private.) I later added a per-node "close things only" graph to each page; that's a lot clearer, but even at only 2 links away from the current node, it can still be overkill. Fish-eye view made it easier to keep large graphs visible despite the odd shapes the result might take of its own volition; it doesn't solve the problem for me, but it might help this flash app not be so ... vertically huge. Regardless, this is not a simple thing to set up, and their version is pretty and legible, though the font's a bit small.

One thing I noticed about their setup: I can click on a node that seems to have 3 links around it, yet when the destination page loads, the red (current) node now only has, say, 2 links on it. Anyone else see that?

Fri 13 Feb 2009 at 4:46 PM
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