Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reaction: The value of Information Visualization

The paper highlights the importance of information visualization and aims to educate greater number of audience about the many benefits of using visualization. It presents strong points to describe the challenges faced by InfoViz and provides supportive points on how visualizations are cognitively more effective. Apart from this, it also explains classic visualization examples to throw light on how information is efficiently conveyed. The paper also draws comparisons between InfoViz and the traditional statistical methods and the emerging data mining techniques. I feel that the authors have done a good job covering all the relevant aspects and giving a broader view of InfoViz and its usage and benefits.

The paper talks about how InfoViz is used for large amounts of data, to discover new patterns and facts which in turn leads to questions and hence the reasoning behind such observations. This helps the audience understand the system better and gain newer perspectives and viewpoints. The authors explain in detail how the visual power of humans is greater than any other sense, due to which visualizations create a greater impact in conveying interesting facts.

The paper states that "Information visualization couples interaction and visual representation and so its power is better demonstrated interactively". I think this is an important point as we have seen so many examples of visualization now and the ones that are interactive help a person get a summary of the system. For ex, if the stock prices of a particular company are represented on a graph and you can filter it month-wise, you can easily get to know the high, average and low points. I also like the point that InfoViz systems are not just for companies for decision support, it is also used for private purposes like analysis of a person's finances over the month.

I was always under the impression that data mining and information visualization are closely related. I understand that InfoViz uses visual medium as its strength. Apart from this fact, I thought the aim of both data mining and InfoViz is to bring about patterns and observations in huge datasets but the paper disagrees and seems to classify them into two different techniques. I am not convinced of the categorization though.