Presentation is often considered a part of visualization, but what does that mean for the kinds of techniques we use? Are they the same as used for analysis? What criteria should we use to pick them? In a new paper, I discuss a class of techniques I call presentation-only.
The paper is accordingly titled Presentation-Only Visualization Techniques, and it just appeared in the Visualization Viewpoints column of the January/February issue of IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications (CG&A).
Presentation is important because it’s the kind of visualization many (or even most) people see all the time. Most people never create visualizations themselves for analysis, but they see charts, infographics, news graphics, etc.
Those are different from analytic visualizations however, and they sometimes use innovative and unusual techniques like connected scatterplots, ISOTYPE, embellished bar charts, etc. What if those don’t work in general, but do for those particular use cases?
I argue that in the presentation case, generality is not an important goal. Instead, we need to focus more on questions like memorability and engagement. That is a very different approach to thinking about and evaluating visualization techniques.
With this piece, I hope to change the way we approach the evaluation of techniques. This isn’t just a small difference, but an entirely different way of thinking about what visualization does and how it should work. It’s also a departure from some of the ideas we take for granted as a discipline that’s rooted in computer science.
If you prefer watching a video to reading: I also used an earlier version of the same argument in my talk at ISVIS last year. Then it was still called presentation-only techniques, but I softened that a bit in the meantime. Most of the examples and the overall idea are the same though.
Robert Kosara, Presentation-Oriented Visualization Techniques, Computer Graphics and Applications, vol. 36, vol. 1, pp. 80–85, 2016.