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Ben Fry
MIT Media Lab
Project Description:
Valence is a set of software sketches about building representations that explore the structures and relationships inside very large sets of information.

The premise is that the best way to understand a large body of information, whether it's a 200,000 word book, usage data from a web site, or financial transaction information between two multinational corporations, is to provide a feel for general trends and anomalies in the data, by providing a qualitative slice into how the information is structured. The most important information comes from providing context and setting up the interrelationships between elements of the data. If needed, one can later dig deeper to find out specifics, or further tweak the system to look at other types of parameters.

The images shown here were taken from a visualization of the contents of the book "The Innocents Abroad" by Mark Twain. The program reads the book in a linear fashion, dynamically adding each word into three-dimensional space. The more frequently particular words are found, they make their way towards the outside (so that they can be more easily seen), subsequently pushing less commonly used words to the center. Each time two words are found adjacent in the text, they experience a force of attraction that moves them closer together in the visual model.

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