Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reaction: The Value of Information Visualization

The first question as I was reading this paper was, who would ask (or why) about the value of information visualization when you have tons of data increasing every second.

I liked the way the paper compares information visualization with other research area such as statistics and data mining and then emphasizes the crucial need of it. I agree that the goal of visualization is for the benefit of human being which is related to what they say, "amplifying cognition". However, it is not easy to measure this in numbers and it is true that the research and development cost are high.

I was confused of their terminology of "InfoVis" since sometimes it seemed that they are talking about the toolkit they provided. They used 'InfoVis system', 'InfoVis's value' but then sometimes used 'Information Visualization' which seemed to talk about the general concept of information visualization.

In addition, I agree about the condition of useful browsing especially when information is easier to recognize than to describe(e.g. image). I think the beauty of information visualization can better reveal when the characteristic of the data is utilized properly. It is easier to find patterns or search for a query when the relationship is drawn on the graph such as the graph of college degree and per capita income. Not only it enables to find the facts but also allows one to ask other questions like "What makes Utah have lower average income while they have higher college degree?" As the paper indicates, a good representation confirms what people already know, show several insights, and leads the viewer to answer further questions that are not in the data itself.

Even though the paper talks about the economical model of value, I wonder if it can be measured in our real life.