A new way to interact with data using social networking technologies
Current astronomical surveys encompass hundreds of terabytes of images and catalogs (with much larger surveys planned for the near future). These data sets cover many decades of the electromagnetic spectrum and enable a broad range of multi-wavelength science programs. Even when observatories provide user-friendly web interfaces, exploring large amounts of data, that are distributed across different data centers throughout the world, is a complex and daunting task. The challenge we face is how to make the interaction with these data simple, intuitive and customizable. In this talk we present the results of a new approach to data interaction that builds on emerging social networking technologies used in web-based tools (i.e. widgets or gadgets). We will show how the gadgets we have developed can communicate and share information; enabling users to visualize and interact with data using multiple, simultaneous views. We will also demonstrate how easily new web-based applications for accessing and visualizing data can be generated, and how, linking these tools together, we can build integrated and powerful data analysis frameworks.
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