For those of you interested in network visualisations I strongly recommend you have a look at Hive Plots. This is a site set up to publish the findings and technical solutions from research by Martin Krzywinski (et al) from the Genome Sciences Center, Vancouver. The project's tag line "Rational Network Visualization - Farewell to Hairballs", should also give you a sense of the occasionally light-hearted approach to the project's report which makes it a very engaging read, much more so than many academic papers.

Most traditional network visualisations produced echo the complexity of a data context rather than make it particularly accessible for the average viewer to make sense of. One can form impressions of particular clusters and popularly-connected nodes, but more specific interpretations are somewhat limited due to the visual complexity displayed. As the author articulates below, the focus of this hive plot study was to find a way to make such visualisations geared towards facilitating much deeper and efficient visual interpretation:
The hive plot is a rational visualization method for drawing networks. Nodes are mapped to and positioned on radially distributed linear axes — this mapping is based on network structural properties. Edges are drawn as curved links. Simple and interpretable. The purpose of the hive plot is to establish a new baseline for visualization of large networks — a method that is both general and tunable and useful as a starting point in visually exploring network structure.

To read more about Hive Plots either visit the site or download a copy of the same information captured in a pdf slide deck.

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London Transport Museum historical visualisation exhibition