VisiNav: A system for visual search and navigation on web data

Andreas Harth


Web standards such as RDF (Resource Description Framework) facilitate data integration over large number
of sources. The resulting interlinked datasets describe objects, their attributes and links to other
objects. Such datasets are amenable for queries beyond traditional keyword search and for visualisation
beyond a simple list of links to documents. Given that data integrated from the open web exhibits enormous
variety in scope and structure, the mechanisms for interacting with such data have to be generic
and agnostic to the vocabularies used. Ideally, a system operating on web data is easy to use without
upfront training. To this end, we present VisiNav, a system based on an interaction model designed to
easily search and navigate large amounts of web data (the current system contains over 18.5m RDF triples
aggregated from 70k sources). In this paper we introduce a formal query model comprising four atomic
operations over object-structured datasets: keyword search, object focus, path traversal, and facet specification.
From these atomic operations, users incrementally assemble complex queries that yield trees
of objects as result. These results can then be either directly visualised or exported to application programs
or online services for further processing. The current system provides detail, list, and table views
for arbitrary types of objects; and timeline and map visualisations for temporal and spatial aspects of

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Type of Paper: Research Paper
Keywords: Web data; Exploratory search; Faceted navigation; Semantic search; Visual analytics; Structured data search
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