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Visual Who
Judith S. Donath
Sociable Media Group - MIT Media Lab
Project Description:
The population of a real-world community creates many visual patterns. Some are patterns of activity: the ebb and flow of rush hour traffic or the swift appearance of umbrellas at the onset of a rain-shower. Others are patterns of affiliation, such as the sea of business suits streaming from a commuter train, or the bright t-shirts and sun-glasses of tourists circling a historic site.

Visual Who makes these patterns visible. It creates an interactive visualization of the members' affiliations and animates their arrivals and departures. The visualization uses a spring model. The user chooses groups (for example, subscribers to a mailing-list) to place on the screen as anchor points. The names of the community members are pulled to each anchor by a spring, the strength of which is determined by the individual's degree of affiliation with the group represented by the anchor. The visualization is dynamic, with the motion of the names contributing to the viewer's understanding of the underlying data.

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