Spotlight: Shanti Interactive

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If you’re looking for tools that will help you create web-based visualizations, images or maps, Shanti Interactive may have exactly what you need. Shanti Interactive, a suite of tools made available from the University of Virginia’s Sciences, Humanities & Arts Network of Technological Initiatives (SHANTI), is free to use and a helpful resource for individuals seeking to show their data visually.

The Shanti Interactive suite includes five programs: Qmedia, SHIVA, MapScholar, VisualEyes, and VisualEyes 5. Qmedia creates instructional and scholarly videos. SHIVA creates “data-driven visualizations,” such as charts, graphs, maps, image montages and timelines. MapScholar creates geospatial visualizations while VisualEyes — arguably the most well-known tool from the suite — creates historic visualizations by weaving images, maps, charts, video and data into online exhibits. While we could write an entire post on each member of the suite (and maybe someday we will), I will quickly go over some of the main functions of the Shanti Interactive suite.

Qmedia

A screenshot of QMedia's demo video.

A screenshot of Qmedia’s live demo.

Qmedia creates an interactive video experience. The screen is broken up into various, customizable boxes, which the user can then interact with. In its own words, Qmedia “delineraizes” the video, allowing it to be scanned. Tools in Qmedia include table of contents, clickable, searchable transcripts, graphical concept maps, images, live maps, interactive visualizations, web apps and websites! While this list can be a little overwhelming, you can see the incredible results with Qmedia’s┬álive demo.

SHIVA

SHIVA's timeline capability.

SHIVA’s timeline capability.

Think of SHIVA as a multi-faceted data visualization tool. It can create charts, maps, timelines, videos, images, graphs, subway maps, word clouds as well as plain text. SHIVA works with open source and open access web tools, such as Google’s Visualization Toolkit and Maps, YouTube, and Flickr. When a user inputs data, they do so through Google Docs. One fantastic feature in SHIVA is the ability to add on layers of annotations onto your data. For more on SHIVA’s capabilities and partners, see the SHIVA about page.

MapScholar

MapScholar is a great tool for creating what they call digital “atlases,” allowing scholars to use historic maps to compare and contrast how different areas have been depicted by mapmakers through time. For example, here is the base map on the eastern United States:

And here is that map overlayed with a Native American map from 1721:

VisualEyes and VisualEyes 5

VisualEyes is a multi-faceted online exhibit toolkit, which helps create interactive websites to display data. There are two versions: Flash-based VisualEyes, and HTML5-based VisualEyes 5, which is recommended. In many ways, VisualEyes is a combination of the rest of the suite’s tools, providing a platform for some incredible integration of sources. VisualEyes’ current example is a tour of Thomas Jefferson’s life (as the program was created at the University of Virginia), and worth a look if you’re interested in the program’s capabilities! It is far more interactive than one screengrab can communicate.

This project includes historic and modern maps, a timeline, and text, which all work together to create the story of Thomas Jefferson’s life.

Shanti Interactive includes diverse, free resources that can transform the way that you present your data to the world. If you need help getting started, or want to brainstorm ideas, stop by the Scholarly Commons and we’ll have someone ready to chat!

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