Wednesday, September 7, 2011

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

The goal of this paper is to show how traditional graph structures should be enhanced to improve perceptive and information qualities of the graphs. The focus of the graphs should be communicating the message rather than just depicting the statistics. This is clear from the way author designs the graph of murder rates so that the grouping gets distinctly visible. In one of the sections, the author makes an interesting statement that if the differences are to be conveyed, they should be plotted on their own Cartesian graphs for perceptually accurate results.

The experiments in the paper focus on ordering of elementary perceptual tasks based on the accuracy of extraction. The experiments clearly show that length judgement in bar graphs gives better accuracy compared to angle judgement in the pie charts. The accuracy of judgement also depends on the positioning of the elements.

The author extends this conclusion further to state that, certain non-traditional graph types like dot charts, framed rectangle charts etc are better for design of graphs. However, no experimental proof is given for this. It should be noted that, in the experiment described in the paper compares two well established, traditional graph types. It should be interesting to see result of similar experiment performed with bar charts and the dot charts. Results of such experiments will give us an idea whether human brains respond more accurately to a traditional representation or to a representation which is easier for perception.