chapter  9
19 Pages

Visualization in e-Social Science


Visualizations are a core e-science application: “e-Science means science increasingly undertaken through distributed global collaborations enabled by the Internet, and involving very large or complex data collections, Terascale computing resources and high performance visualisation” (Taylor, 2002). Visualization is the primary goal of a signifi cant minority of U.K. funded e-science programs, third in popularity to data tool and middleware development (Wouters & Beaulieu, 2006). Whilst many types of quantitative social science research already routinely use simple visualizations, such as graphs, the recent expansion in computing power has allowed many new and sophisticated types to be created that can shed light on social science data that is diffi cult to portray effectively with standard graphs. Some areas of social science already routinely employ increasingly complex visualizations (Orford, Harris, & Dorling, 1999), including social network analysis (Wasserman & Faust, 1994), which uses network diagrams as visualizations of network structures. Recent years have seen the development of increasingly powerful, purpose-built visualizations for particular tasks. Moreover, there is now a research fi eld, Information Visualization, which concentrates on the development of new types of visualization and theoretical considerations underlying design choices (Borner, Chen, & Boyack, 2003; Chen, 2004; Spence, 2007; Zhu & Chen, 2005).