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Life Out of SequenceA Data-Driven History of Bioinformatics$
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Hallam Stevens

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226080178

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226080345.001.0001

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Seeing Genomes

Seeing Genomes

(p.171) 6 Seeing Genomes
Life Out of Sequence

Hallam Stevens

University of Chicago Press

This chapter follows the data out of databases and into the visual realm. Visualizations are not produced as the end results of biological work, afterthoughts prepared for publication or for presentations, but form an integral part of how computational biologists think about their own work and communicate it to their collaborators. Arranging data into images forms a crucial part of knowledge production in contemporary biology – it is often through visualizations that data are made into knowledge. A large part of bioinformatics is about solving problems of representation. As with databases, the choice of visual representation has a determinative effect on the knowledge and objects produced through them. Computational representations of biological objects involve decisions about what features of an object are represented and how they are related to one another. When an object is represented in an image, it is poured into a carefully contrived structure. As with databases, decisions about visualization techniques and tools are decisions about how to constitute an object itself. Visualization in bioinformatics is – through and through – analysis and quantification.

Keywords:   visualization, Ensembl, Project MAC, ACeDB, genome browser, heat map, Ben Fry

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