Linking universal design

These visualisations stem from our ongoing experiments with a software called Issuecrawler, which traces hyperlinks between websites. As Richard Rogers (2013, 5), one of the developers of Issuecrawler, argues, the software brings out the “politics of association” among websites by indicating that online settings are essential places of community building which, through the absence or presence of linking, express a desire to be associated with specific causes. Our experiments have so far produced a range of interesting connections and disconnections between diverse actors in the field of Universal Design.

For example, the network figure to the left was created from the website addresses of six Universal Design institutions in the United States. Issuecrawler explored each website by mapping its receiving and giving links with other websites. The larger nodes in the middle indicate sites that received the most links, whereas the nodes that are clustered together had the most ties between them. The figure on the right visualises these links geographically, revealing that most of the Universal Design sites explored by Issuecrawler are connected to other sites based in the United States. This “politics of association” raises a series of intriguing questions—for example, to what extent is Universal Design a universal phenomenon? Likewise, could it be possible that Universal Design is understood differently in the United States than elsewhere in the world? Based on our tentative experiments, Issuecrawler seems a good heuristic device that invites a closer exploration of the “universalism” of Universal Design.

Rogers, Richard (2013) Digital Methods. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.