One of Jamie Mahoney's ON Course blog posts suggested this train of thought. It was started by a quote from Edward Tufte’s 'Visual Display of Quantitative Information':
"What is to be sought in designs for the display of information is the clear portrayal of complexity. Not the complication of the simple; rather the task of the designer is to give visual access to the subtle and the difficult, that is – the revelation of the complex."
This doesn't apply just to data visualisation of course. What we're trying to do with XCRI-CAP I think is 'the clear portrayal of complexity' of provision, albeit primarily in textual form. Much of the design work in XCRI-CAP is intended to provide a relatively simple way of modelling some highly complicated course structures.
For those familiar with Middlesex University's MUSKET tools, the MUSKET approach gives us the opportunity to use data visualisation techniques in course comparison. MUSKET can assess and give quantitative values to similarities between textual descriptions of courses. These quantitative values can then be displayed graphically for ease of initial comparison. Subsequently the user can investigate in more detail, by reading the textual content, those areas that the graphics suggest would be the highest priority.
I guess there is an obvious link to the KIS initiative here, as that deals explicitly with course comparison. I wonder if the principles expounded in Tufte's book can be applied to KIS data sets, and also to XCRI-CAP data sets?