Why maps matter?
At BUNKA, we believe that the best way to explore the web is to use spatial representations: 2D spaces and maps (and one day 3D spaces). Humans are a very visual species that evolved to navigate macroscopic landscapes, with hills and rivers, plain and mountains. As a result, we are very good at using visualizations, maps, graphs, projections, and visualizations provide keys to improve knowledge and decision making.
But there is a deeper link between web exploration and spatial visualization. Recent advances in neurosciences suggest that the human brain uses the same neuronal resources to represent physical and abstract spaces. All kinds of information can indeed be represented in a conceptual abstract space. For example, different objects may be factorized according to how ‘‘cuppy’’ they are as well as their color. These abstract maps can be used to describe relational knowledge: distances, similarities and connections between entities.
Crucially, these abstract spaces appear to rely on the same cells, the so-called place and grid-cells of the hippocampus, that are used to encode spatial information. In the figure below, each cell (colored dots) codes for a specific concept (here, a type of car), and specific place in the conceptual place along the dimension of interest (here engine power and car weight). The arrangement of each cell relative to the other cells allows inferences (conceptual distance, conceptual similarity) to be made about the position of the concept relative to other concepts along the dimensions of interest (power and weight) in the domain.
This is exactly what we do at BUNKA. We use computational sciences (natural language processing and machine learning) to create maps of the internet, that is to say abstract spaces along the dimensions that interest users. These maps organize and structure the information. These maps are organized in territories, dedicated to specific topics. They allow users to visualize everything that is said on a subject at a glance, and use their spatial cognition to further explore and discover new ideas.
Bellmund, J. L., Gärdenfors, P., Moser, E. I., & Doeller, C. F. (2018). Navigating cognition: Spatial codes for human thinking. Science, 362(6415), eaat6766.
Behrens, T. E., Muller, T. H., Whittington, J. C., Mark, S., Baram, A. B., Stachenfeld, K. L., & Kurth-Nelson, Z. (2018). What is a cognitive map? Organizing knowledge for flexible behavior. Neuron, 100(2), 490-509.