Two interesting links floated around work in the last couple days. Both related to visualizations of information or information processes.
One was this beautiful work being done by Alex Dragulescu at MIT Media Lab where he is feeding patterns from software viruses into 3D software to create visual representations of what they 'look like'... and I have to say they are very... viroid... be sure to look at the full size images.
The other was this cool web-based chess program that shows you what the computer is thinking. Go play a game. At first you might think 'so what - this doesn't enlighten me much, it's just pretty...' but play a WHOLE game. These screenshots show how the patterns of chess evolve over the course of a single game. It's fascinating actually seeing how the huge complex patterns break up somewhat quickly into overlapping patterns of lines of attack, and then devolve into tight defensive rids and huge sweeping lines for the losing and winning sides respectively.
What I wonder is if this information would be useful in teaching certain kinds of people - people with certain ways of thinking - how to play better chess. It certainly offers an alternate abstraction of the information that we get from observing a chess board. One feature I would like is for the creator to allow you to set up any board position you like - or even to feed entire games to the brain and see the patterns for each board position. This might allow a rich and interesting analysis of classic chess games and might offer interesting insights into how and why certain strategies work. Maybe I should fire a mail off to the ChessMaster team and get them to hire this guy and integrate this. That would be cool.
Anyway - beautiful stuff - these two things made my day.