Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Using visualization tools to mitigate Information Overload on the internet
by Tate, Charles C., M.A., Georgetown University, 2009, 95; 1461128
Abstract (Summary)

One of the main changes society has experienced as a result of the Internet is information overload. The methods we use to search for information have not kept pace with the rate at which information increases. In order to address this problem we need to start considering alternative ways of presenting and searching for information. The main reason to focus on information visualization as a means for dealing with information overload is because visualizations are able to convey large amounts of information more effectively than text.

The focus of this thesis covers two fields, information overload and information visualization. I will begin by reviewing the extensive literature that has been written about information overload, dating as far back as 1970 when Alvin Toffler coined the term "information overload." I will then turn to the literature and research that has been written about visualization technology. The goal of reviewing the writing done about visualization is two-fold. First, is to gain an understanding of the field's history and what is currently being worked on. Second, is to gain a technical understanding and working vocabulary about information visualization in order to assess the tools tested in the research more accurately. Until now the areas of Information Overload and Information Visualization have remained largely separate fields. My research will syntheisize these two areas of literature in order to determine ways in which visualization tools can be improved and help us deal with the problem of Information Overload.

The first part of my research will be to look at fifty different information visualization tools found on the Internet. All of these visualization tools range in the design they utilize and the types of information they represent. Assessing each visualization tool will provide data on the designs have been most useful, successful and versatile and suggest ways in which the tools could be improved in the future. The second part of the thesis will be a closer examination of three of the fifty visualization tools assessed: Live Plasma, which visualizes music recommendations from Amazon.com; Grokker, which visualizes Yahoo.com search results; and Visual Thesaurus, which visualizes search results for thesaurus entries. In order to accomplish this fifty user surveys will be conducted with both graduate and undergraduate students who are familiar with the Internet. I will conduct the surveys personally, having the each subject use each tool and then answer a series of questions about their experience. From this collected feedback I hope to gain insight into how these tools can be improved in order for them to gain greater traction with the public at large.

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nelson, Michael R.
Commitee: Bedford, Denise
School: Georgetown University
Department: Communication, Culture & Technology
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: MAI 47/03M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Design, Information science, Computer science
Keywords: Content visualization, Infoirmation overload, Information visualization, Internet, User interface, User survey
Publication Number: 1461128
ISBN: 978-0-549-97136-8
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