Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

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Thursday, March 31, 2005

BrainMaps: Using TreeMaps To Browse Your Blog

Yesterday I wrote about automatically extracting categories for your blog posts using Y!Q and Google Directory, and I ended with two ideas for browsing this information: (1) as a list of categories starting with the most frequent, and (2) as a tree (think Windows Explorer). The tree idea was interesting, but it does not give a good visual indication of which categories contain more posts than others.

One solution is to use a treemap, as shown below.

Above we see a treemap for the various categories of information extracted from my blog. The University of Maryland Human-Computer Interaction Lab has this great free Java app called TreeMap that will read in a simple tab-delimited file and display a treemap for it. The information is a bit hard to read at this level (some clever colour support would definitely enhance it), but even at the 50,000' level we can see some subject areas that fire me up:
  • Computers: programming languages (yellow), programming methodologies, PDAs, Human-Computer Interaction
  • Arts: online writing
  • Religion: fun and entertainment (heh)
  • Science: language and linguistics
Let's zoom into the main area, Computers:

Here we see a number of areas that I love reading about:
  • software engineering
  • text editors and development tools
  • search engines
Let's back up a bit and see if I can spot anything in the Arts that really grabs my interest:

Here I am reminded of my fascination with:
  • typography
  • literature: cyberpunk
  • poetry
I won't go further, but suffice to say that treemaps are an interesting way to browse your brain. In a recent conference presentation, John Smart ended his talk with the idea of uploading your brain onto the web, and the intriguing idea of your great great great grandchildren conversing with your uploaded brain, long after you're gone. The idea of mining your blog for your unique hierarchy of interests, and browsing them with treemaps, is a step in that direction.

And for the curious, here are some interests siphoned from other parts of my brainmap:
  • Society/Religion_and_Spirituality/Christianity/Denominations/Catholicism/Prayer_and_Spirituality
  • Society/Subcultures/Geeks_and_Nerds
  • Society/Ethnicity/Filipino
  • Society/Future/Essays
  • Society/Philosophy/Ethics/Education/Empathy_and_Compassion
  • Business/Industries/Information_Technology
  • Business/Management/Communication_Skills
  • Reference/Libraries/Library_and_Information_Science/Technical_Services/Cataloguing/Metadata/Resource_Description_Framework_-_RDF/Applications/RSS
  • Reference/Knowledge_Management
  • Science/Social_Sciences/Psychology/Self-Help
  • Science/Math/Statistics
  • Home/Consumer_Information/Electronics
  • Home/Personal_Organization


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