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[from Fernanda Viégas at Infovis'07]
Zachary Pousman presented a paper he wrote with John Stasko entitled Casual Information Visualization: Depictions of Data in Everyday Life. They propose an expansion of infovis research to encompass non-scientific perspectives such as artistic, social, and ambient visualization. The idea is to recognize the fact that there are several different reasons why we might want to visualize data.

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[link: (PDF)]


In their own words: "Information visualization has often focused on providing deep insight for expert user populations and on techniques for amplifying cognition through complicated interactive visual models. This paper proposes a new subdomain for infovis research that complements the focus on analytic tasks and expert use. Instead of work-related and analytically driven infovis, we propose Casual Information Visualization (or Casual Infovis) as a complement to more traditional infovis domains. Traditional infovis systems, techniques, and methods do not easily lend themselves to the broad range of user populations, from expert to novices, or from work tasks to more everyday situations. We propose definitions, perspectives, and research directions for further investigations of this emerging subfield. These perspectives build from ambient information visualization, social visualization, and also from artistic work that visualizes information. We seek to provide a perspective on infovis that integrates these research agendas under a coherent vocabulary and framework for design."

images: the Tableau Machine & visitor files by Christina Ray & personal annual report.




I don't understand the difference between casual infovis and art. Is it necessary to try and bring everything related to making pictures based on graphics under one umbrella. What are the pros and cons?

Thu 01 Nov 2007 at 2:29 AM

Oops, I mean pictures of data.

Thu 01 Nov 2007 at 2:35 AM

Personally, I think that one problem with current work in the field is that too much of it tries to look like art (or neo-realist propoganda, see examples above), even when the data is really only meaningful to "expert populations". Thus the average layman sees it much like they do modern art: something abstract and irrelevant to their own (broader) domain.

A move toward more ambient and social infovis would be very helpful. My rule of thumb for this sort of broadly useful infovis is that it can't take more than two sentences, or 6-8 seconds, to explain. And it has to be glanceable, even if it rewards deeper inspection.

Thu 01 Nov 2007 at 6:31 AM

Here in Buenos Aires the buses spray out some nasty dark smoke.. cars and trucks too. It would be great to visualize the information about this pollution and of course the more important part: visualize the story of how this issue can be resolved.

The more I think about it, the more I realize stories and metaphors are the most important "data" we use (visual or oral). Facts and figures only matter when attempting to execute the myth we've decided to believe in. Instead of debating facts and figures, we should be debating the stories of our lives! This is something visdat, in conjunction with the skillz of an artist, could help with.

Tue 06 Nov 2007 at 4:06 AM

Hey Eric, your comment about bus smoke made me think of an artist I came across a few years ago. Try Googling the work of "Kim Abeles". She's done a series of stencils of political figures. She leaves the stencils out in the smog of LA. The more damage the political figure did to the environment, the longer she exposes the stencil to the smog... so the biggest environmental offenders have very dark portraits.

Thu 08 Nov 2007 at 1:28 PM
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