University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Interactive workspace for exploring heterogeneous data
Uros Damnjanovic, Sorin Hermon

Last modified: 2011-12-17


In this paper we present our work done in collaboration with the Israel Museum on developing interactive and intuitive tools for exploring the world of the ancient community of Qumran, that was behind the creation of Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest known surviving copies of Biblical and extra-biblical documents. The goal of the project is to create online space in which heterogeneous information from various sources such as description of object, plans of archaeological excavations, ancient text interpretations, video segments can be used to help better understanding of the life of the ancient community. Our work is motivated by the idea that modern user interfaces in combination with huge amount of digital information should serve as an interactive space that improves use of available information and transformation of data into knowledge. When interacting with digital information, presentation layer and user interfaces should not act as constraints on how information is used, but should create possibilities for many different interpretations. Our idea is that highly interactive and customizable user interfaces can improve interaction between users and content. Search functionality is one of the most important aspects of digital interaction since it serves as one of the entry points to digital space. We present interactive visual search forms that can easily be customized by users, to best suit their needs for information. We think that users should be able to modify and personalize the way search is done. By being able to experiment with various searching solutions, users can get better understanding of the content in the starting phase of interaction. Presentation of search results is another important aspect of interaction.  It is important to let users manage how information is presented to them. Users should be able to modify general layout of result presentation, size of objects in lists, number of presented objects, shapes, colors and other visual properties. Together with adjustable presentation of search results we are working on developing search tool that will let users collect interesting results of specific query, store it together with results from other queries, and explore it later, from single window. Set of available results is always available to the user independently of the current search, and visualization techniques used to present relations between results. In this way we want to give complete control to the user when performing the search, and later when exploring results. When users just want to explore content without any specific target in mind we provided browsing capabilities for users to easily and intuitively move over the information space. We propose a graph based data model in which every data item is represented as a node of a graph, and various metadata descriptions as edges over the graph. We also experimented on how information visualization can be used as another entry point to information space by providing multiple perspectives of data and support search of different types of information from a single place. 



user interface; digital libraries,