Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Reaction: Jigsaw: Supporting Investigative Analysis through Interactive Visualization

Jigsaw, is a tool that provides multiple views of documents and their entities.Such a tool can help in exploratory analysis. Usually, people form a mental model of the document as they are reading. But as the size of the documents grows, it becomes difficult to have a clear understanding of the document structure and the presented facts. I agree with the author that using visual representations would help expand the working memory.

In Jigsaw, an entity is chosen to be the primary unit. An entity can be a place, organization, date or person. The relationships between entities are represented in four distinct views; tabular, semantic,scatter-plot and textual. Jigsaw can also be used with a pen tablet for making notes and this is can be very useful. The tool is written in Java and is based on the model-view-controller architecture. Jigsaw extracts entities and represents them as nodes in XML. With longer reports, the list view would not be very suitable and it would involve frequent scrolling. To circumvent this issue, the selected entity and the connected entities are moved to the top of the list. Also, I find the scatter plot view shown in the paper to be clumsy and it is hard to read the labels on the axes. Even with sliders, it wouldn't be very helpful. As the size of the document grows, the usability of the tool is impacted. I found only the graph view to be useful as it allows expanding and collapsing of content. The text view is also a neat way of representing entities.

It would be worthwhile to see if Jigsaw has the same effectiveness in analyzing longer reports. Also, Jigsaw uses other available tools to extract the entities from a document. Without determining the accuracy of these tools, it is not possible to judge if Jigsaw presents the information correctly.