Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reaction: Distributed Cognition as a Theoretical Framework for Information Visualization

The paper attempts to address "cognition", the final step in digesting the information represented by data in a data visualization.The authors feel that cognition has not been studied much with reference to information visualization.Existing theories and guidelines are not sufficient to build a strong framework.The authors argue that "distributed cognition" framework has the potential to serve as a good theoretical framework.

The paper has been written in a very abstract manner, partly due to the research topic and due to the fact that not much research has gone into the cognitive aspect of visualization engineering.Some enlightening examples are made to attempt to elucidate these abstract notions (Interaction between the technical team and a data analyst, study that found how humans seem to invoke the "rotate" option in tetris frequently and the tower of Hanoi isomorphic example). But I feel that the paper seems to have no specific vision or focus.In the end there seems to be a failure to clearly define a specific importance of cognition in information visualization.However, the authors do try to address the disillusionment.In the conclusion, the authors cite some famous historical moments of science,(such as how newton proposed generic motion theories only after adequate understanding of a specific phenomena was achieved) and stress that developing persuasive theories take time.