Places & Spaces: Mapping Science

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Katy Börner, School of Informatics and Computing, Bloomington, IN
Background: The Places & Spaces: Mapping Science exhibit was developed to introduce visualizations of the evolving science and technology (S&T) ‘landscape’ to a general audience. The maps show the structure and interconnections between scientific disciplines, the birth of new ‘lands’ of science, and the diffusion of ideas across the landscape of science. Each iteration showcases the benefits of data visualization for a particular audience, e.g., for economic decision makers, science policy makers, scholars, librarians, and kids. At its heart, the exhibit’s goal is to promote validated and replicable workflows for the design of data visualization and to increase public understanding of the power of S&T maps to help us accurately make sense of the increasingly large streams of scientific data that we all face on a daily basis.  Methods: Places & Spaces debuted in 2005 and was conceived as a ten-year project. Each year, a themed call for maps is issued and a team of international reviewers and exhibit advisors selects the most insightful and innovative maps submitted. The top-10 maps are reworked for public display at libraries, science museums, and national science academies, and then the high-resolution 30” x 24” maps are printed, laminated, and framed. In its tenth year, the exhibit now includes 100 maps, featuring the best examples of knowledge domain mapping, novel location-based cartographies, data visualizations, and science-inspired art works. Results: Places & Spaces features historically significant firsts in science mapping, including the first global map of science, Henry G. Small’s “1996 Map of Science” (1999), the first map of “Science-Related Wikipedian Activity” (Herr et al. 2009), and the first “Clickstream Map of Science” (Bollen et al. 2009) that is based on download data. The exhibit has also brought to life the history and evolution of data visualization with Wattenberg and Viegas’ “History Flow Visualization of the Wikipedia Entry on Abortion” (2006), the SENSEable City Lab’s “Mobile Landscapes: Using Location Data from Cell Phones for Urban Analysis” (Williams et al. 2006), and an exploration of national mood as reflected by Twitter activity in “Pulse of the Nation” (Mislove et al. 2010). The exhibit has been on display in 113 cities, in 25 countries, on 6 continents and includes the work of 215 mapmakers from around the globe. The maps of Places & Spaces empower data to tell stories which both the scientist and the layperson can understand and appreciate.  Conclusions: Drawing from across cultures and across scholarly disciplines, the Places & Spaces: Mapping Science exhibit demonstrates the power of maps to address vital questions about the contours and content of human knowledge. Created by leading experts in the natural, physical, and social sciences, scientometrics, visual arts, social and science policymaking, and the humanities, the maps in Places & Spaces allow us to better grasp the abstract contexts, relationships, and dynamism of human systems and collective intelligence.