Monthly Archive for July, 2008


I can’t remember when I first read about Intellipedia, but I know it was a long time ago. The other day I watched a really inspirational video from the people inside the CIA who successfully overcame typical middle-management obstacles in order to produce it. I particularly like their comments on the evils of email and shared drives for collaboration. The original proposal document is also well worth a read.

Interesting too that Intellipedia’s iVideo sharing component reportedly uses Adobe Flash, but there is no public mention of using visualization tools yet, despite visualization techniques being widely used in the intelligence analysis community.

Details Matter

Recently I’ve noticed a few examples where smallish visual design details really matter.

What Colin Ware in “Visual Thinking for Design” refers to as “multiscale structure” in shown-off very effectively in Vizster and SocialAction.

Another example is the way that Thinkbase constructs links of similar types:

Notice how the actors & roles aren’t linked directly to the film but go via intermediate nodes. And also see how well the space is used and how the links are similar lengths & short – both of these are great for aesthetics and link-following tasks.

Both these approaches build on the position visual variable to effectively to ‘clump’ the like-nodes together. But these designs also add other visual variables (connecting line, enclosing shape) which assist visual pattern finding, and importantly can offer affordances for interactivity too.