SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: [Sigia-l] Information Visualization
Re: [Sigia-l] Information Visualization
From: Karl Fast (karl.fast_at_pobox.com)
Date: Mon Nov 10 2003 - 10:20:58 EST
> you seem to be saying some stuff takes much longer than others to
> percolate and information visualization is one of them. And that
> someday, some killer app/method will magically raise its profile
I should also point to Romano Rao's essay on this idea that a
killer-app is a prerequisite for commercial success.
Rao has been working to commercialize information visualization
about as long as anyone through his work at Xerox Parc and Inxight,
a Parc spinoff.
His essay "Information Visualization 2007" covers the ground nicely.
He speaks from an experience which vastly outstrips my own, and I
suspect, that of any else on this list.
Information Visualization 2007
The snippets relevant to the killer-app suggestion are as follows
(the whole essay is short and worth reading if this topic interests
Looking forward, there are two paths to mainstreaming information
visualization. One is captured in the ever seductive hope of a
"killer application." This path focuses properly on the fact that
visualization (like other user interface technologies) is just an
ingredient technology, not an application in itself. The trick is
finding an application that is not possible without visualization
or else is significantly improved by it. Of course, innovation at
application level faces equivalent challenges of getting something
...The other path involves a more gradual diffusion. Say like the
10 year diffusion of graphical user interfaces from Xerox Star in
1981 to Windows 3.1 in 1991 in which every two years got you
roughly a power of ten in number of users such that 1000 users
climbed to (say) 100 million user. The diffusion would happen
through multiple applications, some specialized with smaller user
populations, others more general with larger user populations.
...The killer application idea assumes mainstream application draw
so much attention that everybody gets converted rapidly, whereas
the slow diffusion model most naturally works by starting with
highend applications and then being filtered and refined down into
more broadly used applications. I think the first path could
happen still, but if not, the second path will lead to the spread
of information visualization, anyway.
Rao believes that the adoption of visualization principles in
interfaces is inevitable. People on this light might not agree, but
Rao is the CTO of Inxight, so you'll be hard-pressed to convice him
otherwise (and he's spent a lot of time thinking about the problem).
Hope that was of some interest.
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