Open AccessArticle
Web-Scale Multidimensional Visualization of Big Spatial Data to Support Earth Sciences—A Case Study with Visualizing Climate Simulation Data
Informatics 2017, 4(3), 17; doi:10.3390/informatics4030017 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The world is undergoing rapid changes in its climate, environment, and ecosystems due to increasing population growth, urbanization, and industrialization. Numerical simulation is becoming an important vehicle to enhance the understanding of these changes and their impacts, with regional and global simulation models
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The world is undergoing rapid changes in its climate, environment, and ecosystems due to increasing population growth, urbanization, and industrialization. Numerical simulation is becoming an important vehicle to enhance the understanding of these changes and their impacts, with regional and global simulation models producing vast amounts of data. Comprehending these multidimensional data and fostering collaborative scientific discovery requires the development of new visualization techniques. In this paper, we present a cyberinfrastructure solution—PolarGlobe—that enables comprehensive analysis and collaboration. PolarGlobe is implemented upon an emerging web graphics library, WebGL, and an open source virtual globe system Cesium, which has the ability to map spatial data onto a virtual Earth. We have also integrated volume rendering techniques, value and spatial filters, and vertical profile visualization to improve rendered images and support a comprehensive exploration of multi-dimensional spatial data. In this study, the climate simulation dataset produced by the extended polar version of the well-known Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) is used to test the proposed techniques. PolarGlobe is also easily extendable to enable data visualization for other Earth Science domains, such as oceanography, weather, or geology. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Reinforcement Learning for Predictive Analytics in Smart Cities
Informatics 2017, 4(3), 16; doi:10.3390/informatics4030016 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The digitization of our lives cause a shift in the data production as well as in the required data management. Numerous nodes are capable of producing huge volumes of data in our everyday activities. Sensors, personal smart devices as well as the Internet
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The digitization of our lives cause a shift in the data production as well as in the required data management. Numerous nodes are capable of producing huge volumes of data in our everyday activities. Sensors, personal smart devices as well as the Internet of Things (IoT) paradigm lead to a vast infrastructure that covers all the aspects of activities in modern societies. In the most of the cases, the critical issue for public authorities (usually, local, like municipalities) is the efficient management of data towards the support of novel services. The reason is that analytics provided on top of the collected data could help in the delivery of new applications that will facilitate citizens’ lives. However, the provision of analytics demands intelligent techniques for the underlying data management. The most known technique is the separation of huge volumes of data into a number of parts and their parallel management to limit the required time for the delivery of analytics. Afterwards, analytics requests in the form of queries could be realized and derive the necessary knowledge for supporting intelligent applications. In this paper, we define the concept of a Query Controller (QC) that receives queries for analytics and assigns each of them to a processor placed in front of each data partition. We discuss an intelligent process for query assignments that adopts Machine Learning (ML). We adopt two learning schemes, i.e., Reinforcement Learning (RL) and clustering. We report on the comparison of the two schemes and elaborate on their combination. Our aim is to provide an efficient framework to support the decision making of the QC that should swiftly select the appropriate processor for each query. We provide mathematical formulations for the discussed problem and present simulation results. Through a comprehensive experimental evaluation, we reveal the advantages of the proposed models and describe the outcomes results while comparing them with a deterministic framework. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Development and Evaluation of a Mobile Application Suite for Enhancing the Social Inclusion and Well-Being of Seniors
Informatics 2017, 4(3), 15; doi:10.3390/informatics4030015 -
Abstract
Smart mobile devices, due to their ubiquitous nature and high level penetration in everyday life, can be a key component of an Ambient Assisted Living system to improve the quality of life of older people. This paper presents the development and evaluation of
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Smart mobile devices, due to their ubiquitous nature and high level penetration in everyday life, can be a key component of an Ambient Assisted Living system to improve the quality of life of older people. This paper presents the development and evaluation of Senior App Suite, a system created for assisting seniors’ personal independence and social inclusion. The system integrates mobile computing combined with web and service-oriented technologies to offer a mobile application suite that seniors can easily use to access services, spanning various application areas such as social networking, emergency detection and overall well-being. The research hypothesis is that using such services can be beneficial for decreasing social isolation. There is quantitative indication that this assumption is realistic backed up also by the qualitative analysis from the user’s feedback derived during a pilot study (n= 22) suggesting that Senior App Suite can motivate people in new activities, maintain connection with social ties, give joy and self-confidence, and increase the frequency and quality of social interactions. Our contribution is a detailed methodology spanning the research, design, development, and evaluation of a solution that aims to improve the quality of life of seniors while addressing open issues identified in related initiatives. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Medical and Para-Medical Personnel’ Perspectives on Home Health Care Technology
Informatics 2017, 4(2), 14; doi:10.3390/informatics4020014 -
Abstract
User-based research is strongly recommended in design for older adults.The aim of this paper is to focus the attention on the poorly explored role of medical and para-medical personnel’s perspective on home health care technologies using data that have been gained during
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User-based research is strongly recommended in design for older adults.The aim of this paper is to focus the attention on the poorly explored role of medical and para-medical personnel’s perspective on home health care technologies using data that have been gained during the “Active Ageing At Home” (AA@H) project. A focus group was organized at the National Institute of Health & Science on Ageing (INRCA) in Italy. Results demonstrate that several challenges deserve a stronger effort by the whole research sector on ageing and technology: (1) a leading role of the participatory design process; (2) the assessment of the added value of health technologies through robust methods; (3) the definition of an unique identity and well established practices among disciplines; (4) the creation of favorable prerequisites and conditions to the technology uptake. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of the Omaha System Prototype Icons for Global Health Literacy
Informatics 2017, 4(2), 13; doi:10.3390/informatics4020013 -
Abstract
Omaha System problem concepts describe a comprehensive, holistic view of health in simple terms that have been represented in a set of prototype icons intended for universal use by consumers and clinicians. The purpose of this study was to evaluate Omaha System prototype
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Omaha System problem concepts describe a comprehensive, holistic view of health in simple terms that have been represented in a set of prototype icons intended for universal use by consumers and clinicians. The purpose of this study was to evaluate Omaha System prototype icons internationally across ten languages through an on-line survey and in-person focus groups. The icons were generally rated above 3 on a scale of 1 to 5 by 1568 survey respondents, with notable exceptions for some of the more abstract concepts. Overall, the icons were rated 3.49 on a scale of 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree, with a range of 3.09 (Japanese language) to 3.88 (Norwegian language). A pattern of differential agreement was noted among respondents from Asiatic languages compared to all other languages. Feedback from survey respondents and focus group participants was used to refine the icons. General themes related to icon development were synthesized from focus group interviews. Further research should continue to refine and evaluate the icons in different languages for international use to support health literacy through visual literacy. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Modelling Digital Knowledge Transfer: Nurse Supervisors Transforming Learning at Point of Care to Advance Nursing Practice
Informatics 2017, 4(2), 12; doi:10.3390/informatics4020012 -
Abstract
Limited adoption of mobile technology for informal learning and continuing professional development within Australian healthcare environments has been explained primarily as an issue of insufficient digital and ehealth literacy of healthcare professionals. This study explores nurse supervisors’ use of mobile technology for informal
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Limited adoption of mobile technology for informal learning and continuing professional development within Australian healthcare environments has been explained primarily as an issue of insufficient digital and ehealth literacy of healthcare professionals. This study explores nurse supervisors’ use of mobile technology for informal learning and continuing professional development both for their own professional practice, and in their role in modelling digital knowledge transfer, by facilitating the learning and teaching of nursing students in the workplace. A convenience sample of 27 nurse supervisors involved with guiding and supporting undergraduate nurses participated in one of six focus groups held in two states of Australia. Expanding knowledge emerged as the key theme of importance to this group of clinicians. Although nurse supervisors regularly browsed Internet sources for learning and teaching purposes, a mixed understanding of the mobile learning activities that could be included as informal learning or part of formal continuing professional development was detected. Participants need educational preparation and access to mobile learning opportunities to improve and maintain their digital and ehealth literacy to appropriately model digital professionalism with students. Implementation of mobile learning at point of care to enable digital knowledge transfer, augment informal learning for students and patients, and support continuing professional development opportunities is necessary. Embedding digital and ehealth literacy within nursing curricula will promote mobile learning as a legitimate nursing function and advance nursing practice. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Visual Analysis of Relationships between Heterogeneous Networks and Texts: An Application on the IEEE VIS Publication Dataset
Informatics 2017, 4(2), 11; doi:10.3390/informatics4020011 -
Abstract
The visual exploration of large and complex network structures remains a challenge for many application fields. Moreover, a growing number of real-world networks is multivariate and often interconnected with each other. Entities in a network may have relationships with elements of other related
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The visual exploration of large and complex network structures remains a challenge for many application fields. Moreover, a growing number of real-world networks is multivariate and often interconnected with each other. Entities in a network may have relationships with elements of other related datasets, which do not necessarily have to be networks themselves, and these relationships may be defined by attributes that can vary greatly. In this work, we propose a comprehensive visual analytics approach that supports researchers to specify and subsequently explore attribute-based relationships across networks, text documents and derived secondary data. Our approach provides an individual search functionality based on keywords and semantically similar terms over the entire text corpus to find related network nodes. For examining these nodes in the interconnected network views, we introduce a new interaction technique, called Hub2Go, which facilitates the navigation by guiding the user to the information of interest. To showcase our system, we use a large text corpus collected from research papers listed in the visualization publication dataset that consists of 2752 documents over a period of 25 years. Here, we analyze relationships between various heterogeneous networks, a bag-of-words index and a word similarity matrix, all derived from the initial corpus and metadata. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Identifying Opportunities to Integrate Digital Professionalism into Curriculum: A Comparison of Social Media Use by Health Profession Students at an Australian University in 2013 and 2016
Informatics 2017, 4(2), 10; doi:10.3390/informatics4020010 -
Abstract
Social media has become ubiquitous to modern life. Consequently, embedding digital professionalism into undergraduate health profession courses is now imperative and augmenting learning and teaching with mobile technology and social media on and off campus is a current curriculum focus. The aim of
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Social media has become ubiquitous to modern life. Consequently, embedding digital professionalism into undergraduate health profession courses is now imperative and augmenting learning and teaching with mobile technology and social media on and off campus is a current curriculum focus. The aim of this study was to explore whether patterns of social media use for personal or informal learning by undergraduate health profession students enrolled at an Australian university across four campuses has changed over time. A previously validated online survey was administered in 2013 to a cohort of health profession students as part of an Australian survey. In 2016, the same survey was distributed to a later cohort of health profession students. Three open-ended questions to elicit descriptive information regarding the use of social media for study purposes were added to the later survey. A comparative analysis of both cohorts was undertaken and social media acceptance and penetration was shown to increase. Health profession students are now more interactive users of Facebook and Twitter, and they have become more familiar with career development sites, such as LinkedIn. The maturation of social media platforms within a three-year period has created realistic opportunities to integrate social media for personal and study purposes into the health profession education curriculum to ensure student understanding of the necessity for maintaining digital professionalism in the workplace. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Social Media Providing an International Virtual Elective Experience for Student Nurses
Informatics 2017, 4(2), 9; doi:10.3390/informatics4020009 -
Abstract
The advances in social media offer many opportunities for developing understanding of different countries and cultures without any implications of travel. Nursing has a global presence and yet it appears as though students have little knowledge of the health and social care needs
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The advances in social media offer many opportunities for developing understanding of different countries and cultures without any implications of travel. Nursing has a global presence and yet it appears as though students have little knowledge of the health and social care needs and provision outside their local environment. Our collaboration across three countries, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States of America, brought the two themes together with the aim of senior student nurses having a communication channel to explore public health issues in each country. Using a closed Facebook™ page, third year undergraduate adult nursing students were invited to take part in a three month pilot study to test the feasibility of virtual collaboration through exchanging public health issues. Here we report upon the collaboration, operation of the social media, and main findings of the study. Three core areas will be reported upon, these being the student’s views of using social media for learning about international perspectives of health, seeing nursing as a global profession and recommendations for future development of this positively reviewed learning technique. To conclude consideration will be given to further development of this work by the collaborative team expanding the countries involved. Full article
Open AccessArticle
ICNP® R&D Centre Ireland: Defining Requirements for an Intersectoral Digital Landscape
Informatics 2017, 4(2), 7; doi:10.3390/informatics4020007 -
Abstract
The apparent speed and impact of creating a global digital landscape for health and social care tells us that the health workforce is playing catch-up with eHealth national programmes. Locating how and where the profession of nursing fits with future models of health
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The apparent speed and impact of creating a global digital landscape for health and social care tells us that the health workforce is playing catch-up with eHealth national programmes. Locating how and where the profession of nursing fits with future models of health service delivery is critical to provide focused engagement for the populations they serve. In 2016, Dublin City University (DCU) School of Nursing and Human Sciences (SNHS) created a research and development centre for International Classification for Nursing Practice (ICNP®) in Ireland. This paper provides a summary of the first year of the centre’s research, describing how the initial activities link to the development of global eHealth policy. A key aspect of service delivery relates to defining care requirements, specifically to support sustainable intersectoral healthcare. Considering how nursing-sensitive language (clinical terminology) is best mapped is necessary to articulate the care requirements and processes to achieve optimal patient outcome. The World Health Organisational Framework for Integrated Care provides a pathway for crystallising the steep learning curve that the profession has currently found itself situated in, to deliver on contemporary digital healthcare. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Preparation for Working in a Knowledge-Based Society: New Zealand Student Nurses’ Use of Social Media
Informatics 2017, 4(2), 8; doi:10.3390/informatics4020008 -
Abstract
The increasing use of social media is revolutionizing the way students learn, communicate and collaborate. Many of the skills used with social media are similar to those needed to work in a knowledge-based society. To better understand student nurses’ use of social media
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The increasing use of social media is revolutionizing the way students learn, communicate and collaborate. Many of the skills used with social media are similar to those needed to work in a knowledge-based society. To better understand student nurses’ use of social media in relation to their learning, an anonymous survey was distributed to all undergraduate nursing students enrolled at one nursing school in New Zealand in 2015. A 75% response rate (n = 226) found that almost all (99%) students use social media outside their studies. However, in relation to their study, 61% use social networking sites (such as Facebook) on a daily basis and only four students (2%) do not use social media at all. Professional networking sites are used far less in relation to study, with 65% not using these networks at all. The most common digital option used to communicate and work with fellow students was online groups and document sharing sites, such as Google docs, were also popular. The study provides a useful baseline on social media use by student nurses. Implications from this study include opportunities for educators to incorporate social media into teaching and learning activities, including its safe and ethical use. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Visualizing 3D Terrain, Geo-Spatial Data, and Uncertainty
Informatics 2017, 4(1), 6; doi:10.3390/informatics4010006 -
Abstract
Visualizing geo-spatial data embedded into a three-dimensional terrain is challenging. The problem becomes even more complex when uncertainty information needs to be presented as well. This paper addresses the question of how to visually communicate all three aspects: the 3D terrain, the geo-spatial
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Visualizing geo-spatial data embedded into a three-dimensional terrain is challenging. The problem becomes even more complex when uncertainty information needs to be presented as well. This paper addresses the question of how to visually communicate all three aspects: the 3D terrain, the geo-spatial data, and the data-associated uncertainty. We argue that visualizing all aspects with a high degree of detail will likely exceed the visual budget. Therefore, we propose a visualization strategy based on prioritizing a selected aspect and presenting the remaining two with less detail. We discuss various design options that allow us to obtain differently prioritized visual representations. Our approach has been implemented as a tool for rapid visualization prototyping in the context of avionics applications. Practical solutions are described for a use case related to the visualization of 3D terrain and uncertain weather data. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Motivation and User Engagement in Fitness Tracking: Heuristics for Mobile Healthcare Wearables
Informatics 2017, 4(1), 5; doi:10.3390/informatics4010005 -
Abstract
Wearable fitness trackers have gained a new level of popularity due to their ambient data gathering and analysis. This has signalled a trend toward self-efficacy and increased motivation among users of these devices. For consumers looking to improve their health, fitness trackers offer
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Wearable fitness trackers have gained a new level of popularity due to their ambient data gathering and analysis. This has signalled a trend toward self-efficacy and increased motivation among users of these devices. For consumers looking to improve their health, fitness trackers offer a way to more readily gain motivation via the personal data-based insights the devices offer. However, the user experience (UX) that accompanies wearables is critical to helping users interpret, understand, gain motivation and act on their data. Despite this, there is little evidence as to specific aspects of fitness tracker user engagement and long-term motivation. We report on a 4-week situated diary study and Healthcare Technology Self-efficacy (HTSE) questionnaire assessment of 34 users of two popular American fitness trackers: JawBone and FitBit. The study results illustrate design implications and requirements for fitness trackers and other self-efficacy mobile healthcare applications. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Player–Game Interaction and Cognitive Gameplay: A Taxonomic Framework for the Core Mechanic of Videogames
Informatics 2017, 4(1), 4; doi:10.3390/informatics4010004 -
Abstract
Cognitive gameplay—the cognitive dimension of a player’s experience—emerges from the interaction between a player and a game. While its design requires careful consideration, cognitive gameplay can be designed only indirectly via the design of game components. In this paper, we focus on one
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Cognitive gameplay—the cognitive dimension of a player’s experience—emerges from the interaction between a player and a game. While its design requires careful consideration, cognitive gameplay can be designed only indirectly via the design of game components. In this paper, we focus on one such component—the core mechanic—which binds a player and game together through the performance of essential interactions. Little extant research has been aimed at developing frameworks to support the design of interactions within the core mechanic with cognitive gameplay in mind. We present a taxonomic framework named INFORM (Interaction desigN For the cORe Mechanic) to address this gap. INFORM employs twelve micro-level elements that collectively give structure to any individual interaction within the core mechanic. We characterize these elements in the context of videogames, and discuss their potential influences on cognitive gameplay. We situate these elements within a broader framework that synthesizes concepts relevant to game design. INFORM is a descriptive framework, and provides a common vocabulary and a set of concepts that designers can use to think systematically about issues related to micro-level interaction design and cognitive gameplay. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Alt-Splice Gene Predictor Using Multitrack-Clique Analysis: Verification of Statistical Support for Modelling in Genomes of Multicellular Eukaryotes
Informatics 2017, 4(1), 3; doi:10.3390/informatics4010003 -
Abstract
One of the main limitations of the typical hidden Markov model (HMM) implementation for gene structure identification is that a single structure is identified on a given sequence of genomic data—i.e., identification of overlapping structure is not directly possible, and certainly not possible
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One of the main limitations of the typical hidden Markov model (HMM) implementation for gene structure identification is that a single structure is identified on a given sequence of genomic data—i.e., identification of overlapping structure is not directly possible, and certainly not possible within the confines of the optimal Viterbi path evaluation. This is a huge limitation given that we now know that significant portions of eukaryotic genomes, particularly mammalian genomes, are alternatively spliced, and, thus, have overlapping structure in the sense of the mRNA transcripts that result. Using the general meta-state HMM approach developed in prior work, however, more than one ‘track’ of annotation can be accommodated, thereby allowing a direct implementation of an alternative-splice gene-structure identifier. In this paper we examine the representation of alternative splicing annotation in the multi-track context, and show that the proliferation on states is manageable, and has sufficient statistical support on the genomes examined (human, mouse, worm, and fly) that a full alt-splice meta-state HMM gene finder can be implemented with sufficient statistical support. In the process of performing the alternative splicing analysis on alt-splice event counts we expected to see an increase in alternative splicing complexity as the organism becomes more complex, and this is seen with the percentage of genes with alt-splice variants increasing from worm to fly to the mammalian genomes (mouse and human). Of particular note is an increase in alternative splicing variants at the start and end of coding with the more complex organisms studied (mouse and human), indicating rapid new first and last exon recruitment that is possibly spliceosome mediated. This suggests that spliceosome-mediated refinements (acceleration) of gene structure variation and selection, with increasing levels of sophistication, has occurred in eukaryotes and in mammals especially. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Informatics in 2016
Informatics 2017, 4(1), 2; doi:10.3390/informatics4010002 -
Abstract The editors of Informatics would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2016.[...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Preferences of Informal Carers on Technology Packages to Support Meal Production by People Living with Dementia, Elicited from Personalised AT and ICT Product Brochures
Informatics 2017, 4(1), 1; doi:10.3390/informatics4010001 -
Abstract
Assistive technology (AT) can help support the continued independence of people living with dementia, supported by informal carers. Opinions and preferences of informal carers towards a range of assistive and digital information and communication technologies (ICT) to support food purchase and menu selection,
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Assistive technology (AT) can help support the continued independence of people living with dementia, supported by informal carers. Opinions and preferences of informal carers towards a range of assistive and digital information and communication technologies (ICT) to support food purchase and menu selection, including navigation and online shopping, and safe meal-making by individuals living with dementia were investigated. General attitudes and experiences with assistive technologies were first probed by means of a focus group with carers (n = 6), organised through the Alzheimer’s Society in Nottingham, England. A series of AT/ICT product brochures were then produced, describing packages of technologies to enable meal production. Task-specific questions were asked of carers (n = 10) at local Memory Cafés as to the perceived capabilities of each individual for shopping and meal-making. Carers were asked to make pair-wise choices in order to select a personalised brochure and to complete a questionnaire to elicit the practicality, desirability and affordability of specific products and to probe for preferences amongst key features. Opinions on ease-of-use, aesthetics, expected safety-in-use, independence of use and stigma related to the technology packages were also collected. Results showed that carers are able to make detailed choices and express preferences about assistive and digital technologies for the individuals in their care, and customise their enabler package. Most believed that having an enabler package would improve safety. Greater exposure of carers to newer digital products would be beneficial. The brochure method could be employed on consumer websites and by AT assessors. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Interactive Graph Layout of a Million Nodes
Informatics 2016, 3(4), 23; doi:10.3390/informatics3040023 -
Abstract
Sensemaking of large graphs, specifically those with millions of nodes, is a crucial task in many fields. Automatic graph layout algorithms, augmented with real-time human-in-the-loop interaction, can potentially support sensemaking of large graphs. However, designing interactive algorithms to achieve this is challenging. In
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Sensemaking of large graphs, specifically those with millions of nodes, is a crucial task in many fields. Automatic graph layout algorithms, augmented with real-time human-in-the-loop interaction, can potentially support sensemaking of large graphs. However, designing interactive algorithms to achieve this is challenging. In this paper, we tackle the scalability problem of interactive layout of large graphs, and contribute a new GPU-based force-directed layout algorithm that exploits graph topology. This algorithm can interactively layout graphs with millions of nodes, and support real-time interaction to explore alternative graph layouts. Users can directly manipulate the layout of vertices in a force-directed fashion. The complexity of traditional repulsive force computation is reduced by approximating calculations based on the hierarchical structure of multi-level clustered graphs. We evaluate the algorithm performance, and demonstrate human-in-the-loop layout in two sensemaking case studies. Moreover, we summarize lessons learned for designing interactive large graph layout algorithms on the GPU. Full article
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Open AccessConcept Paper
How Thumbelina Knows
Informatics 2016, 3(4), 22; doi:10.3390/informatics3040022 -
Abstract
In this paper, I take the book by Michel Serres, “Thumbelina”, as an occasion for reflection on the conceptual basis of knowledge management, as was built by Nonaka and co-workers. The direct access to knowledge that Thumbelina practices together with her peers is,
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In this paper, I take the book by Michel Serres, “Thumbelina”, as an occasion for reflection on the conceptual basis of knowledge management, as was built by Nonaka and co-workers. The direct access to knowledge that Thumbelina practices together with her peers is, in fact, for me, and is a good observation point to bring Nonaka’s reflection further towards the discovery of a new understanding of knowledge and knowing processes. If the digital revolution is the third step, after writing and printing, regarding the soft changes in the relations between human beings and knowledge, then it highlights the urgent problem of deepening our understanding of what knowledge and intelligence are, changing our practices at the educational level, and designing new digital tools to support our knowledge management processes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Supporting Sensemaking of Complex Objects with Visualizations: Visibility and Complementarity of Interactions
Informatics 2016, 3(4), 20; doi:10.3390/informatics3040020 -
Abstract
Making sense of complex objects is difficult, and typically requires the use of external representations to support cognitive demands while reasoning about the objects. Visualizations are one type of external representation that can be used to support sensemaking activities. In this paper, we
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Making sense of complex objects is difficult, and typically requires the use of external representations to support cognitive demands while reasoning about the objects. Visualizations are one type of external representation that can be used to support sensemaking activities. In this paper, we investigate the role of two design strategies in making the interactive features of visualizations more supportive of users’ exploratory needs when trying to make sense of complex objects. These two strategies are visibility and complementarity of interactions. We employ a theoretical framework concerned with human–information interaction and complex cognitive activities to inform, contextualize, and interpret the effects of the design strategies. The two strategies are incorporated in the design of Polyvise, a visualization tool that supports making sense of complex four-dimensional geometric objects. A mixed-methods study was conducted to evaluate the design strategies and the overall usability of Polyvise. We report the findings of the study, discuss some implications for the design of visualization tools that support sensemaking of complex objects, and propose five design guidelines. We anticipate that our results are transferrable to other contexts, and that these two design strategies can be used broadly in visualization tools intended to support activities with complex objects and information spaces. Full article
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