Sunday, September 18, 2011

Reaction: The eyes have it: a task by data type taxonomy for information visualizations

I feel this is yet another very good paper which talks about the importance of information visualization and how it replaces the old way of representing data (database management). The author also emphasizes of "bandwidth of information visualization" to give the user a reason to learn more about visualizations. The author asks the UI designers to keep in mind the power of the human eye and its ability to distinguish various colors and shapes.

Mainly the paper gives us a "mantra" which tells us things to keep in mind depending on their relative importance. I found "task taxonomy" to be very interesting because it tells us the various dimensions which we need to keep in mind when visualizing data. Clearly the author makes an attempt to speak out to a broader range of audience including those from relatively non-technical backgrounds by describing different types of dimensions and giving examples to show how they can be visualized, thus creating an "abstraction of reality".

It can be clearly seen that the principles mentioned in the "mantra" are applicable even till date and some of the best user interfaces have ensured that sufficient effort is spent on describing each principle in a detailed level. The author then goes on to describe the "Task by data type taxonomy" with sufficient examples.

Summarizing my thoughts, I feel the author has done a very good job in describing the principles in a detailed fashion but somehow the information presented, especially the sub-headings could have been organized better to create a more efficient information flow process. The paper has an abrupt ending without a smooth transition from "Advanced filtering" to "Summary". This is definitely a good read and I will follow up with some of the references mentioned in the paper.