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Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

Information Analysis & Visualization

Demo: MDS

Please note: This demo has been taken offline; the information below is for archival purposes only.


A graphical interface that summarizes the discussion content and participants behavior from an archive of a computer mediated communication (CMC) process.


The left-hand panel in the interface served as the Display-panel, presenting a detailed graphical display of a particular representation, while the upper-right panel served as an Overview, providing a thumbprint of the detailed display. A user could select a portion of interest on the Overview, prompting the interface to display the selected part in detail on the Display-panel.

At the top of both the Display-panel and the Overview were four tabs. Clicking on one of these brought up one of the four types of the interface:

  • Content Summary
  • Interaction Summary
  • Expert Indicator
  • Behavior Summary

Each type presented one graphical representation displaying a certain aspect of a CMC process on both the Display-panel and the Overview. In addition, Content Summary, Interaction Summary, and Expert Indicator divided their display-panels into sub-gardens based on the sub-topics identified automatically. Thus each sub-garden represented one subtopic.

  • Content Summary described the temporal change of each sub-topic, where one green line meant there was one message posted on a certain day for this sub-topic. While the x-axis represented time, the vertical thickness of each sub-topic indicated how "hot" it is on a certain day.
  • Interaction Summary depicted the liveliness of discussion within each sub-topic, where one flower was on thread. The number of flower petals equaled the number of messages posted for that thread, while the number of leaves represented the number of persons who participated in the discussion of this thread. In addition, the height of a flower indicated how long the thread lasted.
  • Expert Indicator used person flowers to help users locate active persons in each sub-topic, where one flower represented one person. The number of petals equaled the number of messages that person posted. The number of leaves indicated the number of threads in which that person participated, and the height of the flower indicated how long the person stayed in the community.
  • Behavior Summary described the behavior of each participant during the CMC process. The same type of the person flower was used here. A user could obtain from the Behavior Summary valuable information such as the attitude of the participants toward the community (indicated by the number of messages each person posts and the length of time each person stays in the community).

In the lower-right was the Message panel, which displayed the list of messages of interest that a user selected from the Display-panel. Clicking on one message title brought up another window tto display the content of the selected message.

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