[Submitted by Stephen MacNeil]
I’m now nearing the end of the term, which also means I am nearing the end of my time working with NewRadial. Having spent so much time working with the program I now have a chance to reflect on some of the fundamental ideas that program adopts, but also try and force myself outside of the box a bit, and analyze what can be done to better reinforce the program’s ability to visualize works within the humanities.
At its heart, NewRadial is visualization software for many facets of the humanities. When I first operated the software I was able to see and interact with the visual works of William Blake presented within a radial, and it was quite apparent that artwork works inherently well within NewRadial. While the team is now focusing our attention on text, as I have documented in preceding blogs, I really think the idea of demonstrating images within the program is not only valuable as it stands, but has great potential to take the concept further as well. One thing I’ve mentioned in previous blogs was that when it comes to displaying text within NewRadial, there is a lack of identifying features to allow it to stand out from other groups of text visually. Artwork, on the other hand, makes the process of identification far more immediate. The works of William Blake show up remarkably well and users can group selected works by name, date or other customizable category. This is technically possible for any artist’s works, past or present. What if we allowed users to display their own works within NewRadial’s interface? The Radial is a unifying shape that can represent both a chronological sequence of nodes and also never limits the user viewing what they can look at within a collection because it is all presented within the visual field. The nesting ability that we’ve had to generate for the text examples opens up new opportunities for user-generated content as well. NewRadial might have potential in its application to display artwork, photographs, and designs in new ways which should not be understated.
Certain visual media lends itself more to chronological representation than others. For instance, I think there is a lot of appeal in using NewRadial to map out and research works such as graphic novels. Graphics novels are somewhat unique in their reliance of both visuals and text in order to tell a story. It’s an interesting idea that with NewRadial’s ability to have child and parent nodes, that in addition to displaying graphic novel pages chronologically with a radial we could divide individual pages into panel nodes with accompanying text. NewRadial could serve as an extremely viable method of graphic novel scholarship.
In conclusion, I wanted to go back to my initial impressions when being introduced to NewRadial. While I’ve spent the majority of this term conceptualizing how NewRadial can work with textual models, with the potentials that HTML5 has, NewRadial could really be a new method of displaying video media as well. I still think that its potential for predominantly visual media has yet to be fully tapped into with NewRadial, and while we are currently pushing for ways in which NewRadial can work with textual genres, we shouldn’t forget its more apparent strengths in the process.