reply to Joe Hart’s post on Inspiration Software, Cognitive Maps, and the Web

Joe Hart, who runs the informative EduResources site, posted an interesting piece on the possible use cognitive maps to (as he says) “organize the many web sites that [he’s] identified that relate to higher education online instructional resources. What I want to do is categorize and organize the resources so that the EduResources portal that I’m designing will be easy to use; I want the portal web site to be an effective entryway to online instructional resources for faculty and instructional designers.”

I started drafting a response to Joe directly in email, but then decided it made more sense to just post it here.

Joe’s probably well aware of this movement, but it strikes me that what he is trying to do is similar to what others are trying to accomplish by visualizing Topic Maps, concept maps and other taxonomy visualization projects.

I only follow these peripherally, but my sense is that these things have been evolving for years, and certainly are far more real than when I was first introduced to the techniques and technologies in the early 90’s. But what I find exciting is what I perceive as a movement towards the more organic creation of order, and visualizations that are not pre-set drawings into which we can locate resources and knowledge, but instead representations of semantic meaning that are created dynamically on the basis of some replicable and (eventually) recognizable algorithm or patter and that further improve with use.

In any case, Joe’s post prompted me to dig back and find some URLs that might be of interest on the topic. I definitely appreciate his motivation as I too find myself swamped by the sheer mass of information and the immense inter-connectedness of the various knowledge spaces and domains I work and play in, and long for good visualizations of this complex knowledge. – SWL

Topic Maps

The TAO of Topic Maps – http://www.ontopia.net/topicmaps/materials/tao.html

Easy Topic Maps – http://easytopicmaps.com/index.php?page=TopicMapFaq

LiveTopics for Radio – http://radio.weblogs.com/0107808/outlines/liveTopics.html

Ten Taxonomy Myths – http://www.montague.com/review/myths.shtml

Taxonomy and other visualizers

Touchgraph Link Browser – http://www.touchgraph.com/browser/LinkBrowser.html

Wordmap (Taxonomy mapping software, a bit expensive) – http://www.wordmap.com/index.html

Antartica Visual Net (hierarchical directory visualization software, also likely expensive) – http://antarctica.net/products.html

Conzilla (Prototype Concept Browser) – http://www.conzilla.org/

WebOnto (neat Java-based taxonomy browser, not sure of availability or release status) – http://eldora.open.ac.uk:3000/webonto

and finally, for a completely different kind of blog mapping:

Blogmapper – http://www.blogmapper.com/

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reply to Joe Hart’s post on Inspiration Software, Cognitive Maps, and the Web