I spoke recently with a reader of this blog who is also a writer in the tech space. One piece of feedback which I got about my content was (to paraphrase) I like all the graphs and so on, but where does the geographic content fit in?
There are two answers to this. The first is easy - I think that maps are one of the best examples of data visualization as they are intuitive in the extreme. As a corollary, one doesn't need to work to hard when defining a logical representation of geographic data - it is to a large extent a solved problem with many data sets and standards available (compare this with creating ontologies for other domains).
The second answer is more complicated, but more interesting. In addition to my interest in anything to do with text interpretation (including NLP/Computational Linguistics, text mining, message understanding and document analysis) I'm also interested in data browsing. What I mean by this is something parallel to how the web works with documents, but for structured data.
Some great examples have surfaced recently: I posted about viewing eBay data as opposed to documents that presented eBay data textually (Adrian Cockcroft updated this post with information about for pay services in eBay itself); CogMap is a wiki, but not one that deals with text. The documents on this site are structured data that one edits directly. The data is hierarchical representations of org charts.
Of course, perhaps the mother of all data browsers at this time is Google Earth (which gets back to the whole geographic thing).
The big difference, and the point I am trying to make, is that if we can browse data (and especially statistical data which can be consumed and analysed by the browser) in the same way in which we browse textual documents, then we will have passed a major milestone in the utility of the web - or rather the internet, as what I described is not the web as we know it.
What I'm interested in discussing on this blog are aspects of our current world which contain signals about this new world that I'm describing.