The Glass Cast prototype

A recapitulation

Part of my work for INKE included the development of an experimental interface intended for the visualization of documents based on affiliation. The purpose of this interface was to visualize the mobilization of the term “visual literacy” over time and across disciplines. The project started as an idea derived from my Ph.D research, and between 2013 and today Teresa Dobson, Geoff Roeder, Monica Brown and Omar Juarez  have collaborated to the project.

Conceptualization and design

The Glass Cast was conceptualized as a combination of a Network visualization and a Timeline, as the intention was to trace the evolution of visual literacy by mapping the connections between documents over time. This issue has been recently brought up in other works. The Glass Cast prototype was presented first in NY, at the Research Foundations for Understanding Books and Reading in the Digital Age conference in September 2013.

The first models attempted to simply add a temporal dimension to a network visualization, but proven to be barely legible.

First models of the Glass Cast

We then conceptualized a model that would shift between a regular network visualization and a sort of scatterplot in which the items would be interconnected. Eventually, we came to the conclusion that a 3D model would work better.

Final model of the Glass Cast

The full conference paper can be found here.


During a usability study on Workflow — a platform developed by Luciano Frizzera — we discovered that paper prototypes direct the focus of participants in usability studies towards the identification and evaluation of the metaphors of the interface, as opposed to bugs and errors. We decided to conduct a two-stage study for the Glass Cast, the first one focusing solely on the metaphors by the use of paper prototypes. This would offer a new opportunity to test the conclusions of the previously mentioned study.

Low fidelity prototype study

The results of this stage were analyzed and developed as design premises for the next stage. This process was documented and published.


The Glass Cast was developed in WebGL (three.js)by Omar Juarez . The Glass Cast is launched by dropping a Zotero report into the landing page of the interface, transforming it into a navigable 3D environment.

The landing page of the Glass Cast
Report generation dialog in Zotero

The Glass Cast was part of the information design exhibition Information Everything and was presented in México, during the 3er. Encuentro de Humanistas Digitales.

The landing page of the Glass Cast can be accessed here and the project can be forked here.