Note: Version 1.0.5 of the space was released on June 10, 1998. It provides the choice of two styles of viewpoint manipulation under the "Options" tab. Please update your local classes if you have downloaded the applet.

  1. What is an information space?
  2. Who designed this space, and why?
  3. How do I use the JAIR information space?
  4. How do I contact the designers of this space?
  5. The applet doesn't work with my browser. What's wrong?
  6. Can I install the applet locally, so that it will start more quickly?
  7. Usability logging and your privacy
  8. A Design Rationale
  9. Credits and acknowledgements

1. What is an information space?

An information space is a type of information design in which representations of information objects are situated in a principled space. In a principled space location and direction have meaning, so that mapping and navigation become possible.

Applying this terminology to this information space, we have yellow squares representing JAIR articles (the information objects) arranged according to two hierarchically constructed principles: first, the squares are within circles reflecting their categorization; and second, the circles are arranged so that categories which are more similar are closer together. The metric used to determine pairwise similarity is the number of articles judged to be appropriate for both categories, although only one category is assigned each article for the visualization. The visualization behaves as information map, providing a survey view of the relationships between articles as derived from the category assignment.

2. Who designed this space, and why?

This space was designed by the Information Architecture project at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The project seeks to observe and define design criteria, design rationales, and design practice in spatial information design, to discover principles that enable the design of principled information spaces, and to implement spaces to test our findings.

This space is intended to fulfill the last goal, and is a work in progress -- expect it to be augmented and revised in the future.

In view of the second goal, the designers have made available the design rationale for this space.

3. How do I use the JAIR information space?

Quick Start

Full Instructions

Panel 1 contains a ground plane situated in three-dimensional space. The yellow squares on the plane represent published articles in the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research. Each square is arranged equidistantly about a label describing a category to which the corresponding article has been assigned. The area of the circle around each category label is directly proportional to the number of articles assigned to that category. The categories are arranged so that a pair of categories which have more articles that could be assigned to both are closer together than a pair of categories that have fewer or no co-assignments.

The viewpoint into this space can be manipulated by three actions:

Passing the pointer over a square will cause the full bibliographic entry and an excerpt of the abstract to appear in Panel 2. Clicking on a square will will cause the Access Window (4) to appear, which lists all of the documents associated with that article. An article may have versions in PostScript or HTML, and the PostScript file may be compressed. Some articles have additional files online as appendices. Double-clicking on the file description in the Access Window will cause it to be loaded into the user's browser; whether that file is displayed or saved depends on the browser's configuration.

The tabbed panel (3) allows the user to construct full-text searches of the articles, as well as browse the articles by author and title. Search results are displayed as lines segmented by color and drawn upward from the article-squares on the ground plane; the length of each segment is proportional to the number of occurences of that word in the article. The bottommost segment corresponds to the first search word. Search words are kept in a history list on the search panel. The words used in the last query are highlighted. Words can be added or removed to construct a new query by selecting and deselecting words from the list.

The articles can also be browsed by author and title. Double-clicking on an item in these lists will access the article using the Access Window.

The applet will continue to execute until the user accesses an absolute URL from the history list, a bookmarks file, or by direct entry. At that point, the applet will suspend itself, but will resume if the user returns to the JAIR Information Space page. After five minutes have elapsed, the applet will stop execuiting and shut down.

4. How do I contact the designers of this space?

5. The applet won't work with my browser. What's wrong?


The applet has been tested successfully on the following browser/platform combinations:

Applet compatibility chart.
Navigator 3.0x
Navigator 4.02
Microsoft Internet
Explorer 3.0
Microsoft Internet
Explorer 4.0
Linux ok (kernel 2.0.29) ok (kernel 2.0.29) - -
SunOS ok ok - -
Solaris ok ok - -
SGI IRIX ok ok - -
Windows 95 ok (version 3.03) ok ok not compatible
Windows NT ok (version 3.03) ok ok (version 3.02) ok
Macintosh ok (version 3.01) not compatible

Bug Reports
If you do encounter a problem, please submit a bug report to Include a description of the problem, what browser and platform you were using, and especially the contents of the Java console, if possible. For Netscape Navigator, the Java console can be accessed under the Options menu. For Microsoft Internet Explorer, first enable Java logging in the Security...Advanced tab. Then console information will be in the file javalog.txt in the Windows\Java folder.

6. Can I install the applet locally, so that it will start more quickly?

Yes. The following archives contain the applet classes:

Version 1.0.4

If you do install the classes locally, please check this page frequently, to determine if a new version of the applet has been released.

7. Usability logging and your privacy

When you use the JAIR information space, the applet will keep track of the actions you take, for example when you select or download an article or perform a search. After a session with the information space the applet will transmit your actions to a server and they will be stored in a log file for later analysis.

This logging is performed totally anonymously; there is no way for anyone to correlate the log data with an individual user, even between sessions. The logging does not use "cookies" or other client state to identify the log information.

If you do not want your actions logged, deselect the check box marked "Log user data" under the Options tab in the lower-left hand corner.

8. Credits and acknowledgements

We wish to thank the National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowship program for supporting Mark Foltz and the National Science Foundation for support through grant N0014-94-1-1090.

Information Architecture
MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Last modified: Wed Jun 10 11:03:52 1998