I received an email about a wonderful new exhibit/collaboration “Map Marathon” organized by the Serpentine Gallery in London and those intrepid thinkers at Edge. The whole online gallery is fascinating, but what really caught my fancy was this image, apparently submitted by Bruce Sterling. It’s a map of writers who are associated with Sterling, and therefor it has a lot in common with my research.
After some investigation it looks like the map was generated with Gnod, or Gnooks to be exact: “a self-adapting community system based on the gnod engine.” I’m intrigued–it seems like the site’s connections are based on user input to its adaptive learning system. I’d love to compare these networks to my own data.
The images linked below are two more examples of the material I’m generating for my dissertation. The first is a visualization of the authors and literary references (in proper noun form) made by New York Times reviewers of Pynchon’s books. The second image is the same, only drawn from Amazon customer reviews of Pynchon’s books. Comparing the two, you can see how different sorts of cultural reference (and different levels of density of reference) exist in the sets of text.
Both images were created using the wonderful web gizmo Wordle, which allows users to upload their own data and create custom visualizations.
I’m trying to work out different ways of mapping out the networks of books, ideas and writers that build up around different novels over time–a concept I’m calling ideational networks. The web is fostering a lot of these networks (think Web 2.0) and at the same time preserving them, allowing me to map some of the connections.
One of the things I’ve been looking at is the ecology of book recommendations and reviews on sites like Amazon and LibraryThing. Below is a map of the book recommendations branching out from LibraryThing, which we can assume is driven largely by the book choices that users of the site have made over time.
As you can see from the image below, the network is fairly diffuse, but with some interesting connection points. Nabokov’s work, particularly Pnin, seems like a major intersection between different cultural sub-networks. I’ll have more to say about this and other maps as I continue working, but for now I thought this might be a cool image to share. If anyone’s interested I’ll share some of the technical details in a future post.