Infomous: Creating clickable content and information maps

May 25, 2011 Off By Chris Hinton

Data visualisation is a hot topic these days. As individuals and companies generate and try to deal with more and more data, there is a real risk that we become data-rich, but information-poor. That is, we have loads of data at our disposal, but lack the means to interpret and understand it in a meaningful way.
There are plenty of data visualisation tools out there, and one of the newer contenders in this area is Infomous. Infomous is currently in beta, and you can request an account from the site if you like what you read here. When I requested my account, there was around a two week lead-time between request and receiving login details.
So what does Infomous actually do? Well, according to the signup message, “Infomous is an exciting new way to provide your users with a superior online exploration and navigation experience. At the same time, you can use Infomous as a revolutionary, effective way to deliver contextually relevant advertisement while gaining superior insights into the behavior of your users.”
In simple terms, point Infomous at a website, RSS feed, or Twitter search, and you will get a visual web of the information found there and the relationships between various pages or tweets. For instance, I pointed Infomous at Geek-Speak and it came up with this “map” of the most recent content:

Infomous map of Geek-Speak

Infomous map of Geek-Speak

It’s interesting to see that the content words are largely grouped by the post they appeared in… there isn’t much cross-posting. This is an accurate reflection of what happens on the site, but actually serves as something of a reminder that I could be referring to other posts a little more often in my writing. So the simple act of mapping the recent content on Geek-Speak has provided an interesting diagram, a map that I could embed to allow users to navigate (the words are clickable on embedded maps, which makes them function somewhat like a tag cloud) and given me some impetus to change the way I write.
Infomous for Twitter does much the same as for any website, but you can enter a Twitter search (such as the name of a celebrity or event), or follow a certain user. When I entered my own Twitter username, cdhinton, this is the map I ended up with.
Infomous map for Twitter: @cdhinton

Infomous map for Twitter: @cdhinton

Again, much like a tag cloud, the things I write about most are the most prominent. By hovering over any term, a list of relevant tweets is displayed so you can see the context that led to that particular word being included in the map. If you want a quick overview of what another user talks about, stick their name in the generator and see what you end up with – it can be quite interesting.
So, is Infomous any good? It’s not a full-blown Business Intelligence tool, but it does what it does well. It’s great for creating quick maps of online information, and provides a novel method of navigation and advertising delivery (advertisements are appended to the content lists when you hover over a word). It can help you get an overview of a site, twitter search, news subject, or what a twitter user writes about and, best of all, it’s free while in beta.
To request a beta account, visit