7. The Pseudo Scientific Visualizer

"Darkness fell in from every side, a sphere of singing black, pressure on the extended crystal nerves of the universe of data he had nearly become... And when he was nothing, compressed at the heart of all that dark, there came a point where the dark could be no more, and something tore. The Kuang program spurted from tarnished cloud, Case's consciousness divided like beads of mercury, arcing above an endless beach the color of the dark silver clouds. His vision was spherical, as though a single retina lined the inner surface of a globe that contained all things, if all things could be counted. "

[Gibson, Neuromancer]
Figure 9, Pseudo Scientific Visualizer: rootmenu. (PostScript: 9.ps)

The Pseudo Scientific Visualizer is the object browser for the other half of your brain, a fish-eye lens for the macroscopic examination of data. It can display arbitrarily large, arbitrarily deep structures, in a fixed amount of space. It shows form, texture, density, depth, fan out, and complexity.

It draws a compound object as a circle, then recursively draws its elements, scaled smaller, in an evenly spaced ring, rotated around the circle. The deeper an object, the smaller it is. It will only draw to a certain depth, which you can change while the drawing is in progress.

It has simple graphical icons for different data types. An array is a circle, and a dictionary is a circle with a dot. The icon for a string is a line, whose length depends on the length of the string. A name is a triangle. A boolean is a peace sign or an international no sign. An event is an envelope. A process is a Porsche.

It randomly forks off several light weight processes, to draw different parts of the display, so there is lots of drawing going on in different places at once, and the overlapping is less regular.

After the drawing is complete, the circular compound objects become mouse sensitive, selectable targets. The targets are implemented as round transparent NeWS canvases. When you move the cursor over one, it highlights, and you can click on it to zoom in, pop up a description of it, open up another view of it, or select it, and then push it onto the stack of the PSIBER Space Deck.

Figure 9 shows a Pseudo Scientific visualization of the NeWS rootmenu instance dictionary, also shown in figure 3 and figure 8.

Figure 10, Map of Adventure. (PostScript: 10.ps)

Figure 10 shows two views of a map of the ARPAnet, and you can even explore the WWW PseudoScientific Visualization Map of the ARPAnet.

Figure 11, Map of ARPANET, around Berkeley IMP. (PostScript: 11.ps)

Figure 11 shows two views of a map of Adventure.

Next section, 8. References.

Previous section, 6. The Metacircular PostScript Interpreter.

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