Visitors interacting with the macroscopes at Virginia Tech's Newman Library.

Call for Macroscope Tools for the Places & Spaces: Mapping Science Exhibit (2019)

Background and Goals

The Places & Spaces: Mapping Science exhibit is designed to open people’s hearts and minds to the value, complexity, and beauty of maps of science and technology.

The Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center at Indiana University seeks macroscopes for inclusion in the Places & Spaces: Mapping Science exhibit. This traveling exhibit has showcased the best examples of data visualization from a wide range of disciplines since 2005, with the aim of furthering the mapping of science. The exhibit has traveled to 28 countries and appeared in various formats at over 375 venues and events, including the Davos Economic Forum, National Academy of Sciences, and the New York Public Library. News coverage has appeared in Nature, Science, USA Today, and Wired.

Macroscopes are software tools that help us focus on patterns in data that are too large or complex to see with the naked eye. The term macroscope was first coined in 1979 by Joël de Rosnay in a book titled The Macroscope: A New World Scientific System [1]. To meet the challenges posed by an abundance, diversity and complexity of information, de Rosnay proposes the macroscope, a tool “not used to make things larger or smaller but to observe what is at once too great, too slow, and too complex for our eyes.”

The exhibit seeks macroscopes that help people understand the landscape of science. The exhibit has served to set de facto standards for science mapping. Therefore, the use of novel data sets, algorithms, tools, and display hardware that advance innovative methods are encouraged. Macroscopes that tackle the timely topics through data are welcome. See for the macroscopes already included in the exhibit.

Submission Details

Interactive tools designed for desktop, mobile, touch-enabled, and/or large (e.g., tiled wall) devices are all welcome. To be incorporated into our exhibit kiosk, macroscopes must be 1) web-based, 2) touch-enabled, 3) allowed to run inside an iframe element, and HTTPS compatible. Macroscopes will be deployed on a 46” multi-touch display running Windows 10 and Chrome. Each macroscope should be fully functional for at least two years. Macroscopes that are deployed using other hardware may be possible. Please contact the curatorial team to discuss options. Macroscope teams should be available to work with the exhibit staff over a period of three months to prepare the macroscopes for public display and travel.

Each entry must be submitted by March 1, 2019, and needs to include:

  • Title of macroscope
  • Author(s) name, email address, affiliation, mailing address
  • Link to online site that features the macroscope tool or to executable code
  • Macroscope tool description (300 words max): user group and needs served, data used, data analysis performed, visualization techniques applied, and main insights gained
  • References to relevant publications or online sites that should be cited, links to related projects or works
  • Entries should be submitted via EasyChair by clicking here. Enter author (macroscope maker) information, a title, and submit all other information via the ‘Abstract’ field.

Review Process

Submissions will be reviewed and evaluated by the exhibit advisory board (listed below). Submissions will be evaluated in terms of their:

  • ability to provide new, actionable insights
  • value as a tool for data exploration
  • relevance for a general audience
  • scientific rigor

Final Submission

Authors of winning entries will be contacted in April and invited to submit final entries by June 30. Each final entry should consist of:

  • Link to online site that features the macroscope tool or link to executable code. This must be a fully self-contained version of the macroscope that can operate without any outside links and without opening new windows.
  • Biographies for all authors (100 words each)
  • High resolution portraits of all authors that are no smaller than 360 x 450 pixels, or 1.2" x 1.5" at 300 dpi.
  • Signed copyright and reproduction agreement

Authors are welcome to use the expertise and resources of the exhibit curators and designers. The macroscopes are expected to be ready for display by the end of October.

Important Dates

  • Submissions due: March 1, 2019
  • Notification to mapmakers: April 30, 2019
  • Submit final entries: June 30, 2019
  • Iteration ready for display: October 31, 2019

Exhibit Advisory Board

  • Gary Berg-Cross, Spatial Ontology Community of Practice (SOCoP)
  • Donna Cox, Illinois eDream Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Bonnie DeVarco, Media X, Stanford University
  • Francis Harvey, Cartography and Visual Communication, Leipzig University
  • Peter A. Hook, School of Library and Information Science, Wayne State University
  • Lev Manovich, Computer Science, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • André Skupin, Professor of Geography, San Diego State University
  • Olga Subiros, Big Bang Data
  • Moritz Stefaner, Freelance Designer
  • Stephen Uzzo, New York Hall of Science
  • Benjamin Wiederkehr, Founder,

Please feel free to send any questions you might have regarding the judging process to Katy Börner (ude.anaidni@ytak) and use the subject heading “Macroscope Inquiry.”


[1] de Rosnay, Joël. 1979. The Macroscope: A New World Scientific System. New York: Harper & Row

Acknowledgements: This exhibit is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-0238261, CHE-0524661, IIS-0534909 and IIS-0715303, the James S. McDonnell Foundation; Thomson Reuters; the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, University Information Technology Services, and the School of Library and Information Science, all three at Indiana University. Some of the data used to generate the science maps is from the Web of Science by Thomson Reuters and Scopus by Elsevier. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.