General HelpThe central area of CultureMap looks like an abstract color composition. But it is also a map of sorts, one which graphically represents the prevalence of certain chosen terms in the pages of the Web. To get to this section, click on the Petrie dish on the Main page. If after choosing categories and clicking on the arrow button you do not see a colorful geometric composition, this may indicate a Java problem. Once you have loaded the central software, it is possible to interact with the image in several fairly intuitive ways.
What is Java and why should it be installed and enabled?
MethodData are collected each day for 32 typical categories from three search engines: altavista.com, alltheweb.com, and google.com. (Note: this has evolved into Yahoo/Altavista, Sogou, and Google due to consolidation and the effective closure of Altavista and AllTheWeb .) It should be clear that the choice of search engines is not meant as an endorsement of them. In fact, the opposite may be true. Rather, these search engines were chosen because they have gathered a great deal of data, using robotic 'spider' software that traverses the link structures of the Web. Unlike some search engine-like portals, these three maintain their own large databases. Such databases can be used to correlate a given keyword with Web pages containing that word. Furthermore, each of the three chosen search engines reports the number of such 'hits' available from their database, a number which is often so large that actually looking at all the pages suggested is impractical.
The CultureMap software facilitates visualization of the relative quantity of 'hits' for a given set of keywords. It is possible to use keywords other than the 32 pre-selected ones. However, certain features are disabled when users invent their own categories because daily information gathering is limited to the 32 given categories.
The graphical areas are sized according to the hits reported by the search engines for the selected terms. Each term is allotted an area geometrically equal to its percentage of the total hits. "Total hits" means all the hits reported for a set of terms. The average proportions, according to all three search engines, may also be seen. This view is computed by first establishing percentages for each term for each search engine; these are then added together and divided by three. In each visualization, the areas are scaled relative to one another. Because they are relative, the sizes may vary greatly depending on which terms are compared. Unusual terms appear very small when compared with terms like 'internet' and 'computer,' which generate a lot of hits.
CultureMap depicts data gathered from search engines, and so its graphical proportions are calculated according to biased data. Any mapping of the Web's content is bound to be imprecise. CultureMap does not pretend to reveal any rigorously objective picture of the content of the Web. That content is seen through the lens of three profit-driven search engine services. At the time of this writing, nearly 40 days after beginning to collect data from the three search engines, two of the three have not altered their hit estimations for any of the 32 categories. This gives an idea how subjective their results are, since the Web has almost certainly grown over that period.
BrowserThe recommended browser is Netscape Navigator 4.61 for Linux. The CultureMap's central applet conforms to the Java 1.0.2 programming interface, so it should work in almost any Java enabled browser. CultureMap has been tested under various browsers including Microsoft's Internet Explorer Windows versions 4.0 and 5.0, Netscape Navigator version 4.7, and Netscape Navigator version 3.04. It will only work correctly in browsers that support the Java language. It should be noted, however, that not all operating systems support Java as well as others. Currently, Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 under Macintosh, using the Microsoft Java interpreter, is crashing under Mac OS 8.5.
The Commodities section uses secure SSL connections, which some browsers do not support. Windows users may find that SSL is disabled in the advanced Internet Options.
FeedbackPeriodically the search engines change the way they report hits. This is difficult to avoid and will probably cause occasional malfunctions.
Reports of technical difficulties are appreciated. Please try to be as explicit as possible and provide information about the browser, version, and operating system, as well as a specific description of what happened, under what circumstances. In this way it may be possible to identify the problem.
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