Prospect has an exciting new set of features and functions that have emerged out of our work with faculty research in the Digital Innovation Lab in the last few months of 2016. This feature set centers around what Prospect’s developer, Dr. Michael Newton, calls “Qualified Relationships.” This new feature set brings a new way of describing relationships in Prospect’s existing data structures, a new set of visualizations and a new Filter. Prospect is the first general purpose and reconfigurable data platform to offer this feature set.
Prospect has had the ability to form relationships between data entities (via the “Pointer” data type) since it was created. Using a Pointer Attribute value you can, for example, create a relationship between two entities so that, for example, the Record describing “Jack” can point via a “Spouse” Attribute to “Jill” and thus assert that the two are married. And this relationship can be represented graphically on a number of Prospect’s visualizations.
This data architecture, however, is severely limited, especially when a scholar wants to represent the very messy relationships that happen in the real world. For example, Jack and Jill may have been married for some period of time before marrying other people; if we hope for our data to allow us to see and understand the “tangled web we weave” over time and space, those relationships need further parameters to describe what kind of relationships they were, when they happened, what roles people assumed in them, where they happened, and so on.
This is the purpose of Qualified Relationships: to model and visualize the nuances, conditions and contingencies that are aspects of relationships, not least in the realm of the humanities. Qualified Relationships exploit and are built with Prospect’s powerful pre-existing data model (Attributes, Templates, and Records); Exhibits that wish to show them need a little extra configuration to do so, but once this is done, a versatile filter and innovative set of visualizations is ready to allow you to explore them, namely:
A Network Graph specifically made to deal with Qualified Relationships (such as this network of NBA players and the teams for which they’ve played over time).
A Map specifically made to handle the spatial aspect of Qualified Relationships.
An “Ego-Graph” which allows you to explore the relationship associations of the entity you choose, with from 1 to 6 degrees of separation (such as this view of the characters of “Romeo and Juliet,” focusing on Juliet in the central “ego” position).
A Time Rings view which allows you to display any given entity’s relationships over time (such as this view of the characters of “Romeo and Juliet” over the six days of the play’s timeline, focusing on Romeo in the central “ego” position).
A special Relationships and Roles Filter allows you to remove particular types of QRs from the current display, based on Relationship Type and Roles.