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International Journal of Health Geographics

, 2:1

First Online: 10 January 2003Received: 06 January 2003Accepted: 10 January 2003DOI: 10.1186-1476-072X-2-1

Cite this article as: Boulos, M.N.K. Int J Health Geogr 2003 2: 1. doi:10.1186-1476-072X-2-1


As online information portals accumulate metadata descriptions of Web resources, it becomes necessary to develop effective ways for visualising and navigating the resultant huge metadata repositories as well as the different semantic relationships and attributes of described Web resources. Graphical maps provide a good method to visualise, understand and navigate a world that is too large and complex to be seen directly like the Web. Several examples of maps designed as a navigational aid for Web resources are presented in this review with an emphasis on maps of medical and health-related resources. The latter include HealthCyberMap maps, which can be classified as conceptual information space maps, and the very abstract and geometric Visual Net maps of PubMed for demos. Information resources can be also organised and navigated based on their geographic attributes. Some of the maps presented in this review use a Kohonen Self-Organising Map algorithm, and only HealthCyberMap uses a Geographic Information System to classify Web resource data and render the maps. Maps based on familiar metaphors taken from users- everyday life are much easier to understand. Associative and pictorial map icons that enable instant recognition and comprehension are preferred to geometric ones and are key to successful maps for browsing medical-health Internet information resources.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1476-072X-2-1 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Maged N Kamel Boulos


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