Thursday, March 19, 2009

A map of knowledge

When we click from one page to another while looking through online scientific journals, we generate a chain of connections between things we think belong together. Now a billion such 'clickstream events' have been analyzed to map these connections on a grand scale. What emerges is a fascinating snapshot of the web of interconnections between disciplines, which some data-mining experts believe reveals the degree to which work that is not often cited — including work in the social sciences and humanities — is widely consulted and can form bridges between scientific disciplines. The authors of the maps argue that web-usage metrics give an alternative and more up-to-date view of science than existing maps and indicators, which are largely based on out-of-date citation data. (Try clicking on the map to enlarge it.)