Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reaction: Graphical Perception: Theory, Experimentation, and Application to the Development of Graphical Methods

This paper is very informative about how we can improve the perceptive and information quality of our well known graphs. The author starts off by introducing the elementary perceptual tasks which are performed by each individual when he/she looks at the graph. Further, author explains how these tasks are used in each of the different graph formats and how useful is each task in conveying the required information unambiguously and efficiently.

The paper further relates to ordering of each of these perceptual tasks which actually form the basis of this ordering in terms how accurately information can be extracted upon using them. This ordering forms the base fundamentals of the experiment mentioned by the authors. The paper explains the experimental setup and the activities carried out and concludes by establishing a firm order of perceptual tasks with respect to accuracy. This corroborated the relation to the conjecture of the order mentioned before in the paper.

Based on this order, the paper puts forth many different improvements that can be made to achieve a significant increase in the accuracy levels of the traditional graphs such as bar graph, Pie Chart etc. Thus, by making sure that perception of position is used in any graph over angle or length; we can make that graph much more effective for the user. The authors conclude by stating a very important point i.e. this ordering does not form a strict basic rule to make a graph but just a guidebook which should be used with good designing judgement. There are many more points which can affect the design of a graph which include the data to plot etc.

Overall, the paper is a very good read. It helps in understanding subtle points which should be kept in mind while designing any visualization. The nature of the placement of figures and the lines where the figures were referenced lead to jumping up and down the paper for each reference.