Wow, that was fast! VIS 2014 is already over. This year’s last day was shorter than in previous years, with just one morning session and then the closing session with the capstone talk.
We started the day with another run. Friday saw the most runners (six), bringing the total for the week to 15, with a count distinct of about 12. I hereby declare the first season of VIS Runnners a resounding success.
InfoVis: Documents, Search & Images
The first session was even more sparsely attended than on Thursday, which was really too bad. The first paper was Overview: The Design, Adoption, and Analysis of a Visual Document Mining Tool For Investigative Journalists by Matthew Brehmer, Stephen Ingram, Jonathan Stray, and Tamara Munzner, and it was great. Overview is a tool for journalists to sift through large collections of documents, like those returned from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Instead of doing automated processing, it allows the journalists to tag and use keywords, since many of these documents are scanned PDFs. It’s a design study as well as a real tool that was developed over a long time and multiple releases. This is probably the first paper at InfoVis to report on such an extensively developed system (and the only one directly involved in somebody becoming a Pulitzer Prize finalist).
How Hierarchical Topics Evolve in Large Text Corpora, Weiwei Cui, Shixia Liu, Zhuofeng Wu, Hao Wei presents an interesting take on topic modeling and the ThemeRiver. Their system is called RoseRiver, and is much more user-driven. The system finds topics, but lets the user combine or split them, and work with them much more than other systems I’ve seen.
I’m a bit skeptical about Exploring the Placement and Design of Word-Scale Visualizations by Pascal Goffin, Wesley Willett, Jean-Daniel Fekete, and Petra Isenberg. The idea is to create a number of ways to include small charts within documents to show some more information for context. They have an open-source library called Sparklificator to easily add such charts to a webpage. I wonder how distracting small charts would be in most contexts, though.
A somewhat odd paper was Effects of Presentation Mode and Pace Control on Performance in Image Classification by Paul van der Corput and Jarke J. van Wijk. They investigated a new way of rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) for images, which continuously scrolls rather than flips through page of images. It’s a mystery to me why they only tried sideways scrolling, which seems much more difficult than vertical scrolling.
Capstone: Barbara Tversky, Understanding and Conveying Events
The capstone was given by cognitive psychology professor Barbara Tversky. She talked about the difference between events and activities (events are delimited, activities are continuous), and how we think about them in when listening to a story. She has done some work on how people delineate events on both a high level and a very detailed level.
This is interesting in the context of storytelling, and particularly in comics, which break up time and space using space, and need to do so at logical boundaries. Tversky also discussed some of the advantages and disadvantages of story: that it has a point of view, causal links, emotion, etc. She listed all of those as both advantages and disadvantages, which I thought was quite clever.
It was a very fast talk, packed with lots of interesting thoughts and information nuggets. It worked quite well as a counterpoint to Alberto Cairo’s talk, and despite the complete lack of direct references to visualization (other than a handful of images), it was very appropriate and useful. Many people were taking pictures of her slides during the talk.
IEEE VIS 2015 will be held in Chicago, October 25–30. The following years had already been announced last year (2016: Washington, DC; 2017: Santa Fe, NM), but it was interesting to see them publicly say that 2018 might see VIS in Europe again.
This concludes the individual day summaries. I will also post some more general thoughts on VIS 2014 in the next few days.