Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reaction: The value of Information Visualization

The purpose of this paper is to show the importance and value of info viz. The article is well constructed and begins by stating the challenges and gradually proceeds towards the solution with appropriate examples and comparisons to finally arrive at a mathematical model to assess value of a visualization.

Initially, author defines purpose of InfoViz as 'amplification of cognition' and states use of InfoViz systems is generally for exploration. The author also explains the difficulty to measure 'the amplification of cognition', which makes evaluation of an InfoViz system a challenging task. The author then attempts to put forward the importance of Information Visualization with the help of certain perceptual theories. He also shows how visualization acts as cognitive aid for understanding of the data. He also gives number of examples which easily depict the need and effectiveness of visualization. Further, author also put forward the use of InfoViz in the fields of Statistics and Data Mining which require understanding of complex and large volume of data.

Finally, the author turns to the mathematical part. He defines certain parameters in terms of cost and effectiveness of the visualizations. The effectiveness is calculated as a function of knowledge gained by each user per session. From these parameters, the author derives an equation for the effectiveness of the visualization. Using this equation he reaches the conclusion that a good visualization is used by many people, regularly, to gain significant knowledge, with least cost. The author also discusses different types of costs involved and possible ways of minimizing them.

In my opinion, this is a well organized paper which clearly states its purpose and challenges. Then it works it's way towards the resolution in a way which will create or increase the interest of the reader in the field of visualization. Though major part of the paper can be seen as introduction of visualization to the beginners, it also attempts to provide more technical and mathematical way of assessing the value of visualization. The parameters defined to calculate cost and knowledge gain will definitely attract the more advanced designers and developers and help them in designing effective visualizations.