About RR & IF
Ramana Rao picture Email is Rao At This Domain I'm an entrepreneur, now serving as CTO at Livefyre. Past companies include iCurrent, a personalized news aggregator, acquired by the Washington Post, and Inxight, a pioneer in text analytics and information visualizaiton, now part of SAP. Before this, I was an HCI/CS researcher at PARC and studied computer science at MIT.

This page collects some of my writings from the last 20 years of research and evangelism related to Information Flow. It includes pointers to many big picture papers, links to some of my most cited research papers, and links to some popular my Information Flow newsletter issues from 2002-2003.

Overview Articles

Sixty Years of Search and Beyond [May 2005, ACM Queue] A history of search starting 60 years ago as context to broadened PARC/Inxight ideas related to Intelligent Information Access. It concludes with predictions for 2020.

From Unstructured Data to Actionable Intelligence [Nov 2003, IEEE IT Professional] Describes the key beyond search technologies of categorization, extraction, and visualization. Also covers an abstract architecture for using these and the applications in leading areas of government intelligence, electronic publishing, and pharma research.

Leveraging Content in Enterprise Knowledge Processes [Dec 2003] Appeared in Knowledge Scaffolding: How Practitioners Use Knowledge Management Tools, Butterworth-Heienemann, July 2004. Based on the Oct/2003 issue of Information Flow. This paper focuses on broadening perspectives on the use of content and content analysis technologies and their role in enabling a new class of "discovery" applications.

See and Go Manifesto [Sept 1999, Interaction Magazine] Written as a reflection on the power of "wide widgets" aimed at the user interface research and development community, but given that wide widgets still haven't been fully absorbed into mainstream graphical user interfaces, it's still a bit of a rallying cry.

Information Visualization and the Next Generation Workspace [1995] I drafted this paper in 1995 on Information Visualization, with Scientific American in mind, but a European publisher of similar magazines, La Recherche and Mundo Cientifico, picked it for French and Spanish versions, which unfortunately derailed the Scientific American submission. So finally I "published" it here in English upon discovering it in old files in Dec 2003.

Information Flow Newsletter

The Information Flow newsletter archives contains many articles that are still my answers to common questions. A few issues still stand out as independent essays.

Faceted Access [Aug 2002] An overview of faceted classification and its implication for better information retrieval.

26000 Languages [Mar 2003] A homage to a level of linguistics, central to Inxight's technology, called morphology, which focuses on the structure of words. Getting this level right is essential to the intelligent use of textual content.

Information Visualization 2007 [Feb 2003] Predictions about what the mainstream adoption of Information Visualization technology.

The 4th Vertex [July 2003] Thoughts on research and innovation and change enabled by the 4th vertex created by open networks. The 4th Vertex is the biggest research lab on earth.

PARC Research Papers

At PARC in the mid-80s there was a series of "working groups" created to explore where PARC might make some big bets. One of these groups, led by Stu Card and Kris Halvorsen, proposed the launching of an effort on Intelligent Information Access (IIA). I was sucked into the IIA mission: about pioneering ways for people to get value from large amount of networked information.

We saw the then-current Graphical User Interface and Information Retrieval paradigms weren't up to meeting this challenge. Then was c.1987, and it's not that different out there now 15+ years later.

My research papers (with IIA collaborators) from the early 90s capture the essence of our thoughts. This work was based on a problem definition centered on predictions about the increasing amounts and variety of networked information, and hence the research vision is still relevant. Inxight was founded to commercialize this portfolio in 1996, and the journey continues on, significantly with the same vision.

One of my key research focus for a couple of years was Information Visualization. The following papers are the original papers behind Inxight's visualization products, Star Tree (formerly Hyperbolic Tree) and Table Lens. These two inventions are what I call "wide widgets" and exemplify the concept of "see and go" user interfaces.

Selected Talks