The goal of loom2 is to use the salient features of social interaction to build a "legible" interactive visual representation of Usenet. Although constructed for researchers to share news and information, Usenet quickly developed into a social environment with varied styles of interactions. Unfortunately, the browsers developed to view the shared messages fail to effectively convey the rich social features of a newsgroup, let alone all of Usenet.
The authors started by exploring the Usenet environment, constructing a series of relevant questions. From the questions, they explored how the information can be derived from the textual data available online. Simultaneously, they started designing segments of a visualization, under the assumption that the desired characteristics were ascertainable. To build the designs, they drew on a wide variety of theoretical and practical concepts from a range of fields, including graphic and interactive design, architecture, sociology, and computer animation.
They have organized all their design sketches chronologically and documented their thought processes and issues they faced through the course of the research. The visualisations are mostly static but some are quite stricking. The ones developed in Phase 05 (shown here) portraing a Macro view of the landscape of a newsgroup are definitely my favorites. Here, they tried to map newgroups by the total number of posts they have against time, and at the same time showing the relationships among them.