Re: Animated planner, semi-transparent 3D charts

Anders Sandberg (
03 Jan 1998 15:50:01 +0100

Forrest Bishop <> writes:

> One version has morphing objects moving along a time axis, affecting
> each other in various ways.

Sounds impressive but not very useful for real analysis.

> A more ambitious version would have
> physics-like interactivity among the items (e.g. ideas bounce off each
> other, new projects squeeze out old), no time axis.

What about a general time axis (past to the right, future to the left,
but no real scale)?

> Some work has been done on connecting the objects with colored lines
> and with transparent rods (etc.) having their own attributes.

Elasticity and tension could be used to make the linked objects to
cluster together. And if you want to find out what is related to
something, just drag it and watch what else moves.

> Two major problems with this idea:
> Representing abstract concepts with 3D objects. Making them out of text
> helps a little, but screen resolution is a constraint.
> Picking what the other two (or all three) axes represent (I have a most
> unfortunate disability: visualizing multidimensional structures is
> nearly
> impossible.) Picking multiple views helps a little, using an axis for
> more
> than one property can get confusing, using layers helps sometimes.

You might be interested in NaviGraph by James Wen, He has an
applet that shows his web in 3D, where the third dimension is used to
show a different kind of information than the other two. He has a
paper about it which might be interesting:

> One project I would like to do is to represent the past history of
> science and technology this way (I don't have the time for this,
> though), as a means of developing a future technology visual aid.
> The vacuum tube, for example, is represented as threads of icons in
> the 19th century and earlier (light bulb, vacuum pump, etc.) that
> coalesce into a tube icon near the turn of the 20th century. New
> threads spring from this, for triodes, pentodes, Klystrons, etc.
> These merge with other threads to form radio amps,
> radar, etc. Then most fade away with the advent of the transistor-
> the derivatives keep going.

That would be great! Reminds me a bit of the technology graph in Civilization.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y