As more information enters our environments, the need for meta-information increases. We simply have too much to process and manage. Most interfaces to information systems do a poor job of providing the kind of macro presentations that give us “information about information”.
This is certainly the case with Internet search results. Because of the way search results are presented (ordered list), the vast majority of Web users simply follow the first link listed. However, information visualization strategies that provide more macro (big picture) information can ultimately prove to be more useful. A few examples include: Grokker (delivers all your results visually organized by subject), Kartoo (a metasearch engine with visual display interfaces), Vivisimo (document clustering software), VISiT (a knowledge management tool that is aimed at Internet research) the TouchGraph Google browser, and the Design by Fire redesign of Google search listings (includes visual cues for relevance).
On a related note, IBM Research’s Remail features a number of visualizations that provide information about the information in your inbox.