James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist

  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Archive for March 16th, 2009

Might map of knowledge prove useful for journalists, politicians?

Posted by James McPherson on March 16, 2009

Research scientists have developed a visual “map of knowledge” (shown below) that apparently shows how researchers consider the findings of others as they do their own work. I’m not actually sure that it has much practical value, but then the same could be said of much of scientific research that provided unforeseen benefits. In this case, in the words of the researchers:

Maps constructed from clickstream data can serve numerous functions. Like citation maps they provide a means to visually assess the relationships between various domains and journals. However, clickstream maps of science can offer an immediate perspective on what is taking place in science and can thus aid the detection of emerging trends, inform funding agencies, and aid researchers in exploring the interdisciplinary relationships between various scientific disciplines. Clickstream maps can furthermore be used as the basis for exploration and recommendation services that rank journals according to the various parameters of network topology, so that researchers can identify influential journals in any particular domain of interest.

Those may seem like a dull sentences to those of us who tend to be a bit science-phobic. But politicians and  journalists–who tend to be as wary of science and math as astronauts are of space junk–might want to investigate the issue further, especially now that we have a presidential administration that seems determined to use science in making decisions.

Science is expensive, and sometimes controversial. And though my brother is the scientist in the family while I lean toward the humanities (we do agree that social science is neither social nor science) it seems to me that anything we can use to help determine where limited funds might be of the most use might be potentially useful.


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