A tool I want

For some time now an idea has been simmering in the back of my mind. It comes from a gap I’ve noticed in the flourishing world of online tools. What I’d like is to be able to assemble data – images, text passages, PDFs, audio, video, whatever, and whether I’ve found them on the internet or uploaded them from my own machine – into a visual array, describe each item and identify how they relate to one another.

I know there is a plethora of ‘mindmapping’ tools out there, which vaguely resemble what I want. But such tools tend to be for the purpose of managing projects, or organising thoughts. They arrange ideas but they don’t actually compile *stuff*. And they tend to make a flat, static image, whose structure is often superficial.

I want to be able to make a dynamic presentation, which embeds the resources it depicts, and which allows you to see the whole and explore its parts. I see this tool as enabling you to do something in between Zotero – for compiling and tracking resources – and ManyEyes – for auto-building visualisations of pre-existing data sets. It would enable the manual assembly of resources into a non-linear, structured, dynamic visual array.

Once created, you could hover and/or click to see details of each item and the relationships between them. What type of relationship is it? And what is its character?

So. Does such a tool exist? If not, how can I make it so? Please advise!

Funnily enough… I was about to publish this post when I thought I’d have one last mozy around the web and lo, I discovered VUE – Visual Understanding Environment. It looks pretty good! I will endeavour to explore it… and return to report.

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