On December 3, 2006, the lead story for the New York Times Magazine (by Clive Thompson) discussed the challenge of analyzing and interpreting information about terrorism and coordinating its exchange among various intelligence organizations. To illustrate the article, information designers Strausfeld and Sears programmed an applet (a small and portable computer application) in which keywords—in this case names of terrorists and terrorist events—are connected by springlike links, which become stronger and more animated with the frequency of the words’ interconnection in a database. The resulting visualizations can be rotated in three dimensions to reveal new viewpoints. Here, the designers used the Internet as their source database, but the model could be adapted by government agencies for their own classified databases.
Gallery label from Born out of Necessity, March 2, 2012–January 28, 2013.