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Zoomer n’est pas explorer

Dominique Boullier, Maxime Crépel, Mathieu Jacomy

Zooming is not exploring. Spatializing graphs, categorizing and (de)constructing networks. Based on the case of the web of books in France, this article discusses the notion of zooming in the visual exploration of networks. By subjecting a graph to a series of questions and successive processes, it becomes possible to understand what seems to be an anomaly for the researcher : a visual entanglement of two otherwise distinct communities from the point of view of the categories and algorithm of modularity. By applying these different tests to the graph, the variety of the algorithms of spatialization and clustering emerge, along with the limits of the notions of zooming, partitioning and exploration of networks, all of which are largely irrelevant spatial metaphors. This approach argues for exploratory conventions that guarantee robust exploitation of this type of data.