Communication Institute for Online Scholarship
Communication Institute for Online Scholarship
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ComAbstracts Visual Communication Concept Explorer Table of Contents Electronic Journal of Communication

User's Guide to the VCCE - Section 3: Issues

User's Guide to the Visual Communication Concept Explorer (VCCE)

3. Issues in running the VCCE

3.1 What do I need to know to run the VCCE?

You need to be comfortable with using a mouse, since it's largely a point-and-click interface. In fact, you need to be willing to click on almost anything, since that's how you'll explore connections. You really need to be comfortable bringing up the contextual menus over concepts or authors by clicking the right mouse button (on a PC, on a Mac you either need to click and hold the single button or, in some cases, use a keyboard and mouse-click combination), since that's how you'll perform secondary searches and ultimately find references or documents.

The VCCE can be run in two different ways. It can either be started and run via the CIOS website or downloaded and run on your computer. In both cases it makes use of your Internet connection and web-browser, so you need to be online to use it. It might look slightly different embedded in a webpage than it does when running as a standalone program but the look of the working elements and the way it works, will be identical whether run through your web-browser or as standalone program. I personally prefer the standalone version, because I think it runs a little faster than the version run through the web-browser. If you choose to run it as a standalone program, you will need to keep on eye out for updates, though.

You should ensure that you are running the latest version of your web-browser, preferably Mozilla 1.1, Netscape 7, or Internet Explorer 6. At the time of writing the VCCE does not work very well with any version of the Opera web-browser (version 7 may correct this). No other web-browser has been tested, but theoretically as long as you are running the latest version of Java, and your web-browser has all Java permissions enabled, it should work.

If you are running a firewall, the VCCE will require free access to the Internet with server-grade permissions.

3.2 How do I get information from the VCCE onto my computer?

To get copies of references, you need to be comfortable either saving web-pages (as easy as File->Save in most web-browsers) or selecting text on a web-page, copying it, and pasting it into a word-processor (or text editor) on your computer. As yet there are no provisions in the VCCE for field-delimited downloads (or proprietary formats like Endnote files) to facilate creating your own database. Still, in most cases you're able to easily get a text version of what you need.

The one thing you can't actually get an easy copy of is the graphical representation of a concept or author network, because the program has no provision to create a document or an image of the network. If you want a copy of a concept or author network, you'll need a screen-capture program of some kind. Since you are limited to three primary network nodes at a time, to record a detailed exploration of concepts or authors you would have to screen-capture every time you performed an operation that you wanted recorded. The only other way is to keep your own running record of what you explored in a word-processor as you go.

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