Sign In

Communications of the ACM

Letters to the Editor

Toward a Map Interface Not Inherently Related to Geography

Letters to the Editor


Hanan Samet et al.'s article "Reading News with Maps by Exploiting Spatial Synonyms" (Oct. 2014) on maps as the basis for reading news was an impressive and informative description of how a map-query interface should work. The details were enlightening, with NewsStand described as "a general framework for enabling people to search for information with a map-query interface." I am not sure if the authors intend to broaden their scope to include even perhaps non-geographically related information but hope they do.

NewsStand is, I think, part of the research behind spatial interfaces in general. I was similarly impressed when first learning about the spatial data management implementations at MIT in the late 1970s led by Richard Bolt.1 At the time, there was interest in exploiting spatial relationships as the main organizing interface. In the early 1980s, I became convinced the improving graphics of personal computers would allow spatial interfaces to become a useful and more mainstream way to access the full range of computer-stored information. I wrote two conference papers in 1984 and 1985 describing how graphical depictions of spatial orientations could be useful in finding information, including word maps for concepts. Several years later, I included screenshots of a geographic map interface using an early Macintosh to show how it might look when searching something as simple as a telephone directory.2 I went on to suggest that, in the same way maps of real geography provide a natural interface to information involving geographical relationships, "information maps" could likewise be a useful and popular interface to content not inherently related to geography.


No entries found

Log in to Read the Full Article

Sign In

Sign in using your ACM Web Account username and password to access premium content if you are an ACM member, Communications subscriber or Digital Library subscriber.

Need Access?

Please select one of the options below for access to premium content and features.

Create a Web Account

If you are already an ACM member, Communications subscriber, or Digital Library subscriber, please set up a web account to access premium content on this site.

Join the ACM

Become a member to take full advantage of ACM's outstanding computing information resources, networking opportunities, and other benefits.

Subscribe to Communications of the ACM Magazine

Get full access to 50+ years of CACM content and receive the print version of the magazine monthly.

Purchase the Article

Non-members can purchase this article or a copy of the magazine in which it appears.
Sign In for Full Access
» Forgot Password? » Create an ACM Web Account