Sunday, September 14, 2008

Conferences, conferences

JSFOne, a conference about the Java Server Faces framework, concluded recently and there is a wrap-up post here.

In addition, the library world has two upcoming conferences, both in October, both in Ohio. The LITA National Forum OCtober 16-19 in Cincinnati, and the ASIS&T annual meeting is Oct 26-29 in Columbus. Also, there was a recent update on the ASIS&T listserv that the Information Architecture Summit will be in Memphis, TN from March 18-22.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Many Eyes" at IBM

The Visual Communication lab at IBM has a new site whose purpose is to make it easier to create and share visualizations of information. Called “Many Eyes,” the site is located at and is the lab’s attempt to bring visualization to the masses.

On the site you can create visualizations of already uploaded data, or upload your own data and try some visualizations on it. But the ultimate goal of the site is for you to share your visualizations with others. In fact, the site states that “our goal is to ‘democratize’ visualization and to enable a new social kind of data analysis.” The hope of the group at IBM is that these visualizations will provoke “data conversations” around the data that is visualized.

Types of visualizations range from the familiar (bar and line graphs, tag clouds) to the more contemporary and occasionally startling such as: treemaps (described by the site as “a visualization of hierarchical structures”) --in this case a comparison of highway and city MPG for various types of vehicles:

and “wordles” (kind of like a tag cloud that maximizes screen space). Below is a wordle elicited from the Congressional Record from a particular date:

There is even a striking visualization called a “flower” which is a sphere-like graph composed of smaller circles that represent data items. In this case the flower is of uploads to Flickr broken out by the digital camera from which they were uploaded (this information is encoded in digital photographs):

Other examples of visualizations currently on the site include a map of the U.S showing where gas prices are highest, and a tag cloud of Shakespeare’s favorite words. There are already a number of visualization uploaded on the site that will appeal to almost any interest.Check it, enjoy, and remember to share your visualizations!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Google's Chrome Browser: A Brief Review

Google yesterday unveiled its entry into the browser wars. Their new browser is called Chrome, and is an attempt at changing the face of the modern browser. Google released the news of their browser on the official Google blog at

As you might expect in a browser designed by Google, the interface looks minimal. In the blog entry on Chrome, the Googlers state that the browser is "clean and fast," much like the classic Google homepage.

Indeed, gone are the File, Edit, Bookmark and other menus. In their place are two simple menus to the right--one for settings (represented by a wrench icon) and one for navigation and editing (represented by a document icon). In place of a bookmark menu, there is a bookmark bar along the top of the browser. You can drag and drop sites from your screenshot list to the bookmark bar. One of the nifty new features of the browser is the screenshot view of your most frequently visited sites. This view is displayed by default in every new blank tab you open.

Along with the interface changes, things are different on the inside of the browser too. Google states that the browser is faster and rendering pages and javascript, and tabs are now more insulated so that a crash in one tab will not affect page viewing in another.

How about searching? Like Firefox 3.0, search as-you-type is built right into the location bar. For example, typing "ny" will list "" as a candidate site that you can quickly click on to navigate to. Adding a "c" will give you a site like "" as a candidate, and so on. I think one difference is that Firefox is searching your history, whereas Chrome is actually searching the internet for sites that match your query. In other words, if you type "ny" and you have not visited any sites that match that string in Firefox, nothing will come up.

In addition, Chrome makes it a little more intuitive to view and search your history. In your screenshot view there is a link to see full history as a simple list of links.

Chrome represents a turn toward the "less is more" philosophy in browser development. The simplified interface may appeal to those who have no need for 90% of the features in current browsers. I personally have relatives who only open the browser by clicking on saved bookmark shortcuts on the Windows desktop. Chrome's screenshot view will be just the thing for them.

And yet the intuitive power of Chrome is what will bring people back. Just being able to type something in the bar and find will be very appealing I think to the wider internet audience. Kudos to Google on a good first effort.

Try Chrome yourself by downloading it from: