Kant + Data = Beautiful Utility? (updated)

Kant + Data = Beautiful Utility? (updated)


Minerva is “a web tool for supporting philosophical historiography research.” It’s the master’s thesis project of Valerio Pellegrini, and was designed by him in conjunction with “a team of philosophical historians from the University of Milan” and the Density Design Research Lab. It was initially designed for examining the work of Immanuel Kant, but the idea is to eventually be able to allow researchers to work on any large body of texts “by bringing together data visualizations and text annotations.”  And the visualizations are really works of art. Here are a few:

Minerva 4

Minerva 1

Minerva 7

This last one won a design award. There are more images and description at Behance:

Focused on the evolution of one author’s lexicon, the tool provides two main views on the text. The first one is a visual representation of the whole evolution of the lexicon across the different works of the author, showing and comparing terms frequency. The second one is the ability to access and work on the text by searching and highlighting lemmas and creating annotations at different levels of scale, such as words, paragraphs, or chapters.

Beside simplifying and speeding up the research process in the context of philosophical historiography, Minerva aims also at providing new ways of looking at the texts and generating new possible paths of investigation. The possibility to observe the whole evolution of one or more author’s thoughts as well as the ability to easily move across his or their works fosters a new kind of dialog with the texts: the concept itself of reading takes the form of an interactive and dynamic process that moves between the direct and close access to the text and the distant view provided by the visualizations.

The Behance post is from 2013, and states that Minerva is still under development. If you are aware of its current status, please let us know. (via Clinton Tolley)

UPDATE (5/15/15): Minerva’s creator, Valerio Pellegrini, informs me that Minerva is still under construction. They are looking for funding to further develop it.

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