Expert Meeting DataCloud 2.0

An expert meeting about mapping, organised in relation to the project Datacloud 2.0.

Expert Meeting DataCloud 2.0

DataCloud 2.0 Expert Meeting

30
 
Aug 2001
 
13:00 to 18:00
location: V2_Lab, Eendrachtsstraat 10

On August 30, 2001, an expert meeting was organized in the V2_Lab about the DataCloud and the related theme of 'mapping'. A preview of the DataCloud 2.0 application and its content was presented. After this presentation, the participants discussed the architecture, features and possible applications of (virtual) information spaces, with a focus on the DataCloud.

Here follows a short summary of the issues discussed.

1. ARCHITECTURE OF INFORMATION SPACES

Is there such a thing as an information space? After some discussion Pieter Jan asked us to speak about 'meaning space', in which a layout of related things (information) conveys meaning. Space in this way can be understood as (a set of) interrelated bits of information and from this set of relations we are able to construct meaning. The example Pieter Jan used was that of a house. The meaning of a bedroom is not determined by the walls but by the function of the space and its spatial relationship to other parts of the house.

Ivan explained that information spaces (or meaning-spaces) not only provide us with tools to visualise and access information but also principally influence the way we as users conceptualise the collecting and structuring of information. In this way, the use of information spaces could influence our understanding of organised and related collections of pieces of information. This concept of meaning-space is closely connected to architecture, if we understand architecture as a way to 'make sense' of our world.

Conclusion:

It is more useful, especially regarding DataCloud, to speak of meaning-space, since the idea behind DataCloud is to try and construct meaning out of specific interrelations between bits of information. 'Empty' space - what happens between objects - should be considered as important as the information objects themselves.

2. INTERACTION AND NAVIGATION

Is it meaningful to visualise data in a 3-D view? The DataCloud interface provides a number of major benefits, such as an instant overview of the amount and clustering of information, a view of the relationships between bits of information and, depending on the principles used for the spatial distribution and representation, additional insight into certain characteristics of the information.

Although some of these benefits are obvious, there are also some restrictive considerations with regard to usability. How can a user maintain his sense of orientation? How can he estimate distances? How can he move around in this space? In an 'infinite space' such as the DataCloud, it is much more difficult to estimate distances than in a space with a ground, ceiling and horizon.

Several techniques were mentioned - from drop shadows to sound effects - which can be helpful for orientation in 3-D views. What we all agreed on was the 'layering' technique to provide easy means to focus (level of detail, fog, lighting). According to Ana, the use of spheres as data-objects lessens the sense of navigating in a space; other shapes, such as cubes or rectangular volumes, are much more effective for orientation. They build up certain landscapes - with constellations you can even recognise or remember when returning to such a 'spot' in space.

Most participants stressed the reorganising function of the DataCloud. On the one hand this is one of the most attractive characteristics of the DataCloud, because it enables you to view the same data in another context. On the other it can be dangerous to change the 'landscape' since the user might get lost. It was argued that the space itself should be more like a meaningful landscape and used as a 'querying tool'.

Michael made the connection to download time as a spatial concept for Internet users. Information that can easily be found and downloaded is in a sense 'closer' to the user.

Using a DataCloud requires the user to accept a concept of navigation through space that is different from the usual 'use' of space. According to Ivan, if this concept is set up in a consistent way and if it provides the user with meaningful interaction (motion, behaviour) and information, users will quite easily and playfully find their way in the DataCloud.

Conclusion:

The DataCloud should provide the user with intuitive and meaningful functionality. One suggestion was to go back to a previously visited view in a specific cloud configuration. Useful navigation requires a lot of testing and, possibly, additional orientation instruments. The team must decide on what meta-data should be visualised (the amount of reactions to an object, the number of visits to an object, etc.) and how (animation, texturing etc.).

3. PRACTICAL USE

In his lecture about mapping, Martin Dodge said that a map is only as good as the person who reads it. This also applies to the DataCloud. We'll do our very best to help our users become true craftsmen.

On August 30, 2001, an expert meeting was organized in the V2_Lab about the DataCloud and the related theme of 'mapping'. A preview of the DataCloud 2.0 application and its content was presented. After this presentation, the participants discussed the architecture, features and possible applications of (virtual) information spaces, with a focus on the DataCloud.

Document Actions
Document Actions
Personal tools
Log in