Katy Börner (2010) has written a wonderful book about visualization that makes our field of scientometrics accessible to much larger audiences. The book is to be read in relation to the ongoing series of exhibitions entitled “Places and Spaces: Mapping Science” currently touring the world. The book also provides the scholarly background to the exhibitions. It celebrates scientometrics as the discipline in the background that enables us to visualize the evolution of knowledge as the acumen of human civilization.
Katy Börner is deeply anchored in the tradition of the Enlightenment. In addition to Garfield and many of our other colleagues, Diderot and d'Alembert are prominently mentioned and indeed the book can be read as another Encyclopedia: one adapted for the internet age with its emphasis on access and visualization. As most of us know, the long-term project covers also the Networkbench (NWB) and the many other tools and platforms generated at the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science (http://cns.iu.edu) of the School of Library and Information Sciences (Indiana University, Bloomington, IN). Open-source software is thus made available systematically in an integrated environment. This major effort and strong development has now been ongoing for more than 7 years and the results pervade quantitative science studies, network analysis, and the various neighbouring fields.
The book's focus is wider than these scholarly disciplines and begins with Ptolemy and the other classics of building maps—of the earth, the heavens, and the sciences that study them. However, the focus shifts quickly to modern time and the wealth of illustrations—which are also made available online at http://scimaps.org/atlas/maps—makes the book attractive for the general audience. This is the only book in my library that I can read successfully with my granddaughter.
The introductory chapter is followed by two chapters entitled “The History of Science Maps” and “Toward a Science of Science.” The aim is to be encompassing, ecumenical, and encyclopedic. The history of science mapping, in my opinion, rewrites this history from the perspective of the major efforts which the author, in collaboration with Kevin Boyack and Dick Klavans made for comprehensive science mapping during the last 10 years (e.g., Boyack et al. 2005). Perhaps, this overshadows a bit the “prehistory” of science mapping such as, for example, the various mapping efforts of the 1980s when personal computing became available. The book is in this respect really a product of the 2000s: it mirrors the turn in our field from tables to visuals. The availability of a graphics environment since the mid-1990s changed this enterprise from a largely algorithmically driven one producing tables (e.g., Schubert et al. 1989) to one that strives for visualization. There is a certain tension between these two—for example, because a two-dimensional map reduces a multi-dimensional space—but Katy Börner demonstrates the extent to which surplus value is to be found in meeting the demands of larger audiences.
Gibbons, M, Limoges, C, Nowotny, H, Schwartzman, S, Scott, P, Trow, M 1994 The new production of knowledge: The dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies Sage London.
Schubert, A, Glänzel, W, Braun, T 1989 World flash on basic research. Scientometric datafiles. A comprehensive set of indicators on 2649 journals and 96 countries in all major science fields and subfields 1981–1985. Scientometrics 16 1–6 3–478 .
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Schubert, A , Glänzel, W Braun, T 1989 World flash on basic research. Scientometric datafiles. A comprehensive set of indicators on 2649 journals and 96 countries in all major science fields and subfields 1981–1985. Scientometrics 16 1–6 3– 478 10.1007/BF02093234.