The Ecological Approach to Text Visualisation

J. A. Wise. The ecological approach to text visualization. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 50(13):1224–1233, 1999. [url]


This paper describes the SPIRE text visualisation system, which core principle is that humans are genetically selected from their species history to preceptually interpret certain informational aspects of natural environments. The authors argues that if informations from the text documents is visually spatialised in a manner conformal with these predilections, its meaningful interpretation to the user becomes relatively intuitive and accurate.

The author describes two interfaces, named Galaxies and ThemeScape, which worked using the concept of clustering. An elaborated mathematical algorithm was parsing the text creating a multi-dimensional array of the words contained in the text. Suybsequently, the same words were used to cluster the documents based on their similarities. The final step was the visualisation of the scaled array of the topic emerged from the parsing and clustering selection.

The Galaxies interface used the metaphor of stars and space, therefore the visualisation offered was a two-dimensional star field. ThemeScapes, was developed using the metaphor of the sedimentary deposition, therefore resulting in a three-dimensional landscape.

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