This paper reports and describes VINCENT, a visual analytics system that is designed to help public health stakeholders (i.e., users) make sense of data from websites involved in the online debate about vaccines. VINCENT allows users to explore visualizations of data from a group of 37 vaccine-focused websites. These websites differ in their position on vaccines, topics of focus about vaccines, geographic location, and sentiment towards the efficacy and morality of vaccines, specific and general ones. By integrating webometrics, natural language processing of website text, data visualization, and human-data interaction, VINCENT helps users explore complex data that would be difficult to understand, and, if at all possible, to analyze without the aid of computational tools.
The objectives of this paper are to explore A) the feasibility of developing a visual analytics system that integrates webometrics, natural language processing of website text, data visualization, and human-data interaction in a seamless manner; B) how a visual analytics system can help with the investigation of the online vaccine debate; and C) what needs to be taken into consideration when developing such a system. This paper demonstrates that visual analytics systems can integrate different computational techniques; that such systems can help with the exploration of public health online debates that are distributed across a set of websites; and that care should go into the design of the different components of such systems.