Exploring Semantic Social Networks Using Virtual Reality

Presented at: 7th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC2008)

by Harry Halpin, David J. Zielinski, Rachael Brady, Glenda Kelly

Webpage: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-88564-1_38
Webpage: https://github.com/lidingpku/iswc-archive/raw/master/paper/iswc-2008/53180590.pdf

We present Redgraph, a generic virtual reality visualization program for Semantic Web data capable of handling large data-sets, which we demonstrate on social network data from the U.S. Patent Trade Office. We develop a Semantic Web vocabulary of virtual reality terms compatible with GraphXML to map graph visualization into the Semantic Web itself. Our approach in visualizing Semantic Web data takes advantage of user-interaction in an immersive environment to bypass a number of difficult issues in the 3-dimensional graph visualization layout problem by relying on the user themselves to interactively extrude the nodes and links of a 2-dimensional network into the third dimension. When users touch nodes in the virtual reality environment, they retrieve data formatted according to the data's schema or ontology. We applied Redgraph to social network data constructed from patents, inventors, and institutions from the United States Patent and Trademark Office in order to explore networks of innovation in computing. Using this data-set, we present the results of a user study comparing extrusion (3-D) vs. no-extrusion (2-D). The use of a 3-D interface showed that subjects led to significant improvement on answering of fine-grained questions about the data-set, but no significant difference was found broad questions about the overall structure of the data were asked. Furthermore, inference can be used to improve the visualization, as demonstrated with a data-set of biotechnology patents and researchers.

Keywords: Semantic Web, virtual reality, visualization

Resource URI on the dog food server: http://data.semanticweb.org/conference/iswc/2008/paper/research/360

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