Information Visualisation

I can’t remember how I happened across this post by Robert Kosara on “The State of Information Visualization” but it’s a good one – and here’s an interesting prediction:

“2010 might be the year of visualization theory. While our field is certainly an applied one, we still need a much deeper understanding of how it works and how to build better tools. There is some existing work, but much of that is old (Bertin’s work was published in the 1960s, Mackinlay’s almost 25 years ago, Shneiderman’s 13 years ago, Chi’s taxonomy almost ten years ago). The field is progressing and we are developing new tools that do not always fit the old molds. We are also gaining a better understanding of how things work, and we are seeing interesting new concepts from other fields. So an update of our theoretical foundations is really overdue now, and this year will hopefully be when it happens.”

3 Comments so far

Graham Durant-Law

Thanks for the post and the link Patrick.  It was most interesting, and I tend to agree that we are coming to a tipping point with visualisation.  The problem will be, in my opinion, a lack of transparent methodology.  My own reserach suggests that organisations do not understand or apply methodologies in a consistent way.

As an aside visualisations can be very dangerous if the tools and data are not understood.  A lack of understanding of the underlying assumptions and algorithms used by the tools compounds error.  See my most recent blog post for an example using Google Scholar data on Iranian Nuclear Physicists.

Regards GRaham

Posted on January 26, 2010 at 09:10 PM | Comment permalink

Patrick Lambe

Very interesting stuff! Has anybosy done any work on the professional ethics/code of conduct of information visualisation?

Posted on January 27, 2010 at 02:07 PM | Comment permalink

Graham Durant-Law

I can find almost nothing, although Borgatti’s paper provides a pretty solid foundation.

I’m sure you have an insight into why the type of activity I did is of interest in some communities.  What I’ve tried to demonstrate is it is very fraught with danger and can lead to false conclusions with possible dire consequences. Look at the current revelations in the UK on the War in Iraq, all of which appear to be decisions on false insights.

Regards Graham

Posted on January 28, 2010 at 04:20 AM | Comment permalink

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