Wissens­kosmos

A public real-time visualization of inquiry activities inside the Saxon State and University Library Dresden.

Wissenskosmos (Knowledge Cosmos) is a real-time visualization of inquiry activities on exhibition at the Saxon State and University Library of Dresden (SLUB). The visualization, which is projected onto a large pane of glass, reveals the most active topic areas. Beside the overall view, little stories are told by highlighting individual items and their titles shortly after they have been accessed via the catalogue. The aim was to create a visualization of knowledge access the visitors, especially students, can identify with. During the student’s examination time, for example, the most active subjects such as mathematics or psychology will be featured prominently as the virtual camera keeps track of them.

Data & Visualization



The visualization is based on the library classification (Regensburger Verbundklassifikation) used at SLUB Dresden. It is a hierarchical system of classes to arrange library materials according to subject. Each class is represented by a circle. In order to keep the image readable, only the higher classes of the tree structure were used. The visualization uses a balloon layout for each of the 33 major classes to depict the hierarchical relations. The classes are furthermore grouped by four categories from a subject taxonomy derived from the German Research Foundation (DFG). These categories are reflected in the color coding of the circles. The circle size depends on the number of corresponding items from the library that were called up within the preceding hour. As the circles grow and shrink, they attract and push each other away. Single items are represented by particles traveling their way up from the origin to the superordinate classes. Of course, the source of all data sent and visualized remains anonymous.

Overall view of the topic areas
Overall view of the topic areas
Single item traveling to its superordinate class ('computer science')
Single item traveling to its superordinate class ('computer science')