Unit charts are not common in visualization, and they are often considered a bad idea. The same is true for using shapes other than rectangles. Neither is based on much actual research, however. In a new paper, we look at the specific example of ISOTYPE-style charts – and find them to be quite effective.
Visualization is often considered to consist of three phases: exploration, analysis, and presentation. While the former two topics are covered well in the literature, there has been very little work specifically on presentation. In an upcoming paper, Jock Mackinlay and I argue that presentation, and in particular storytelling and communication of data, are the logical next step for the field, and provide some research directions. Continue reading Paper: Storytelling, The Next Step for Visualization
Visualization is largely defined as the transformation of data into images. Visualization tools don’t have a way of assessing their output, though: were there enough pixels to represent all the data? Are there too many overlapping lines? In a paper to be presented at EuroVis next week, Aritra Dasgupta, Min Chen, and I propose a taxonomy of the different sources of uncertainty when working with parallel coordinates. Continue reading Paper: Conceptualizing Visual Uncertainty in Parallel Coordinates
The point of visualization is usually to reveal as much of the structure of a dataset as possible. But what if the data is sensitive or proprietary, and the person doing the analysis is not supposed to be able to know everything about it? In a paper to be presented next week at InfoVis, my Ph.D. student Aritra Dasgupta and I describe the issues involved in privacy-preserving visualization, and propose a variation of parallel coordinates that controls the amount of information shown to the user. Continue reading Paper: Privacy-Preserving Visualization
Can gravity have an influence on how the data in a chart is perceived? How do different kinds of connections between circles change our perception of the distance between them? And what does that mean for how strongly we perceive them to be connected? We conducted some user studies to find out. Continue reading Laws of Attraction: From Perceived Forces to Conceptual Similarity
Parallel coordinates are a very popular visualization technique for multi-dimensional numerical data. In this paper, we propose a set of metrics to better understand the types of visual structures users commonly look for using this technique. Based on the metrics, we can optimize the display to make it more readable, and allow the user to select dimensions based on their visual structures, rather than their existing ideas about the data. Continue reading Pargnostics: Screen-Space Metrics for Parallel Coordinates
Visualization needs a new theory. Bertin’s ideas about marks and retinal variables have provided a great starting point, but we are now seeing their limitations. We need to turn a new page and move beyond those cosy, familiar ideas, into new territory. A recent paper by Caroline Ziemkiewicz and myself makes an argument why, and provides some possible directions. Continue reading Beyond Bertin: Seeing the Forest despite the Trees
Design is usually considered a minor point in visualization. Does it make a difference what color scheme you use (as long as it’s not an atrocious one), how thick your lines are, whether you put a background behind your chart, etc.? Caroline Ziemkiewicz and I presented a paper at Advanced Visual Interfaces (AVI) where we reported on a study we had performed to find out.
Continue reading Paper: Implied Dynamics in Information Visualization
User studies are an important part of visualization, but they also require a considerable amount of effort and time. In a paper presented at the BELIV workshop (part of CHI 2010), we discussed our experiences with running a number of visualization studies using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) service. Using MTurk, we are able to run large studies in much less time than usual, and at very low cost. We also show how to avoid gaming the system, which had been reported in earlier work using MTurk.
Continue reading Do Mechanical Turks Dream of Square Pie Charts?
In January, my Ph.D. student Caroline Ziemkiewicz told me about an interesting observation she had made: in different papers comparing tree visualizations, treemaps came out as best, worst, or somewhere in the middle. One difference she noticed was how the questions were worded: when a levels metaphor was used, treemaps did badly; a containment metaphor, on the other hand, seemed to favor treemaps. So we decided to investigate – the result will be presented at InfoVis on Monday, October 20.
Continue reading The Shaping of Information by Visual Metaphors