I’ve been working for about two weeks on visualizing, conceptualizing and sorting out the big picture for Fraktal Forums, the project I’m currently working on. I want to show you a sneak peek of the vision I’m having about the system, with some points on the actual implementation and usage too.
see the fraktal view! click for bigger version
You are in the center, with topics that interest you surrounding you, floating like fractals, connected to other topics.
Simplest example application of this way of communication is a text based forum, and that is what I’m targeting as a first milestone for Fraktal Forums too. Currently most of our Internet-forums are displaying text page after page, boringly trying to imitate a book for some silly reason. Computers are not books, and web pages trying to act as books isn’t the most natural way to do things. We should take what’s the best side of a book and combine that with best of new technology. This is what I want to achieve, to make communication and collaboration easier. It is essential for us to communicate, share and remix ideas to achieve global consciousness.
User is in the center of things and can focus on following the discussions that are of relevance to the user. Where the user can create as easily as possible and others can collaborate on that creation process. Realtime flow of data, with rich visualization of the discussions in different contexts.
Each branch contains discussions related to that topic. The user can zoom in on different topics and then actually see the discussion happening there, real time. Everything can be connected, as here we can see ‘Games’ linked to ‘software’ and ‘hardware’ for example purposes. This way interesting relations can be made to better understand our communication.
Actual discussion happens in a different view when the user zooms/clicks on the topic. Though, I haven’t yet thought much detail about how the detailed look will be, that’s something that has still to be designed through.
One key point for this kind of representation is also the easiness of following your discussions. The branches and leafs (let’s call nodes leafs from now on) that you have been participating can be highlighted easily, showing if somebody has replied to you. Different branches of the discussion could also be visualized differently based on the content, for example content rich with images would be green as text rich content would be blue. This would let the user know easily what is going on and where. Leafs could be weighted differently based on content, hanging from the brances with real physics simulation. Visualization of discussions could be taken to a whole new level. These are of course ideas only for now, for the first milestone only the most basic features are needed.
What do you think ? Is this an easier way to grasp information ? :)
Much work to do
Ultimately I just want to make sharing information easier. I’ts too cumbersome in most of the cases, it needs to be more natural. Humans have amazing capabilities that don’t rely in logical thinking, but intuition and natural action. This means that we can visualize more than two pages of text at the same time :) And wtf people?! this is 2010 and quoting text is still so hard on most if not all forums. Easy quoting will definitely be part of the natural user interface.
Anyway, this is only a sneak peek, I still have much to do until I can present this idea on a more conceivable level. Anyway, let me know what you think! And I’m not doing this alone, going to need help in the future :) Everything will be kept open source and I will try to document this development process more as I go on, hopefully generating discussion and sparking new ideas :)