Hotmap: Looking at Geographic Attention

  • Danyel Fisher

Published by IEEE Computer Society

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Online interactive mapping systems are growing in popularity: Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo all offer interactive maps, with varying features and qualities of aerial photography. For the maintainers and designers of such systems, the behavior of users can provide critical cues on how both to improve their offerings and understand how users are now interacting with the system. The tools needed to track user data for these systems are different from the traditional tools of log file analysis. Maps have the advantage of being tied to common-sense geography: a world map. In contrast, many log-file analysis tools must create an abstract space in which to situate a node-link diagram representing the website. Mapping systems lack hyperlinks: while other online systems logically lead users between pages, online maps can be scrolled and navigated without clicking links. Applying a log-file analysis tool to these systems fails to represent the relevant dimensions of a mapping system: reconstructing a path between pages by examining referrer logs, for example, cannot apply. A simple reporting of the most-requested page requires substantial interpretation: presenting the filenames for individual map images is far from intuitive. Instead, the understanding of geography can be harnessed to build meaningful log-file visualizations by showing the logs as a map.