I have been part of the Versus research project team at DensityDesign with the goal of designing and developing a visual tool for exploring how a specific topic is depicted on Internet.
Our starting point is the recognition that Internet is both an object to be studied and a tool for studying and researching. Furthermore Internet could be used as a platform to research about society rather than about digital and online culture. Several strategies and devices have been developed, such as crawlers and ad hoc research engines acting as epistemological machine, to observe, reassemble and comprehend wide social Complex issues. This hypothesis defines a new emerging cultural form that finds in the Internet a precious box which contains the elements to capture, explain and discuss social phenomena.
Where engines create ordered lists of relevant sources, information visualization can provide overviews of a particular system, making hidden relationships visible and information more accessible and useful. For these reasons the cartography of controversies overcomes some of the limits of the traditional description of social issues by exploiting the potentialities of information visualization and of information design. In this framework visual models and diagrammatic devices demonstrated to be useful tools to describe the different position assumed by the actors of controversy, and operating devices able to describe and unveil the nested and latent connections of a system or of a controversy.
Versus has been presented at the 6th Swiss Design Network Conference in Basel, Switzerland, October 28-30, 2010.