The Architecture of Information

Routledge 2011

Martyn Dade-Robertson


An exhibition of selected works is currently underway in Durham's Net Park Incubator

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Data Portraits featured on the BBC News Webstite.

Data Portraits featured on


Data Portraits featured on the Telegraph Website.

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Data Portraits featured in National Geographic


Data Portraits are derived from research conducted at Newcastle University into the structure and patterns of the WWW. The original research project involved developing software to map and visualize hypertext structures. The research revealed some startling complexity in web sites that had appeared to be very simple.


Martyn Dade-Robertson is a lecturer in Architecture at Newcastle University. He has an undergraduate degree in Architecture from Newcastle and Masters and PhD degrees from Cambridge University. Over the past 10 years my research has investigated the relationship between architectural design, the development of online spaces and places and the visualization of information. This work has been published by Routledge in the book The Architecture of Information (June 2011) which sets out many of the principles and ideas behind this artwork.



The process for creating the Data Portraits has been developed over the past 10 years and involves a software application we have built called ?Data Cartograher?. The first stage is to use a web crawler (similar to the method used by Google) to track and map all the links within a given URL. Using this data, we then feed the information through the software. Web Cartographer creates a drawing with nodes, which represent web site components (pages, images, scripts etc.), and lines between them which represent hyperlinks. The drawing is then plotted using a ?force directed graph? which causes related nodes to gravitate together and those which are not linked to spring apart. Gradually the drawing takes form and the nodes settle into the final pattern. The process is usually re-run a number of times using different starting positions for the nodes until an optimal result is achieved. The Data Cartographer software has built-in editing tools allowing the line weights and colours to be changed and labels added and oriented. The output is exported and a final postproduction edit is undertaken prior to printing.