Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reaction: The Value of Info Viz and Effectively Communicating Numbers

The article written by Fekete, van Wijk, Stasko, and North brought to light many issues I was not aware of that deal with the current status of the InfoViz field. I thought it was interesting that these issues exist. To me, information visualization is an invaluable tool that allows data, patterns, and trends to be effectively presented and conveyed.
I have to agree with the general sentiments of the public in terms of visualization existing as supplement to the tools we use today. The reactions visualizations cause users is unique and powerful but I think we should have the option of choosing between visual and non-visual information to form a better understanding if any confusion exists. It is also understandable that the authors of this article are concerned with the inability to measure insight or quantify the benefits of InfoViz in order to prove effectiveness, but I think these are factors that will vary too greatly among different people observing different visualizations to ever be able to quantify.

This issue leads into the next article, "Effectively Communicating Numbers." I enjoy data being presented as visualizations because it attracts me to the data. I am more likely to dismiss a data presented as a table than its graphic representation. This article states that sometimes graphic representations may convey misinformation. The guidelines provided in this article for basic elements such as lines, bars, and boxes brought to light some aspects of graphical meanings I was not aware of. I find that the guidelines listed to determine the type of visualization one should pair with a set of data will be of good use in the future.