Monday, November 7, 2011

Report: The Most Interesting Papers at the Infovis Conference (VisWeek 2011)

I also liked gestalt lines, though I'm not sure I understand the name itself yet. 

Our own quilts work is mentioned. Thanks Kim and info aesthetics! Definitely agree that they have a steeper learning curve than node link diagrams; we designed them for expert use. That said, with instruction, novices understood quilts well. 

The Most Interesting Papers at the Infovis Conference (VisWeek 2011)


This post was written by Kim Rees, a partner at Periscopic (@periscopic), an interactive design firm specializing in data visualization and information presentation.


VisWeek has come and gone, but you can still get your fill by finding most of the papers online. I was able to attend most of the InfoVis and some of the TVCG tracks, and was really excited by much of the work.

While many of the research was focused on trying to "do something better," there was one paper that presented a novel, new type of data visualization. GestaltLines (PDF) by Ulrik Brandes and Nick Bobo of the University of Konstanz used balance to visualize dyadic relationships. Even in its most basic form, a 'Gestaltline' shows type, extent, and time of the relationship. Color is left as a degree of freedom to encode other variables. Using a sparkline or multivariate glyph approach, a gestaltline can easily be placed within text as a dataword. The technique seems like a very intuitive way of viewing relationships.

Another talk I found intriguing was called Discursis (or "Conceptual Recurrence Plots" according to the paper title) by Daniel Angus, Andrew Smith and Janet Wile. By using colored squares plotted on the diagonal, this method visualizes the strength of engagement in a dialogue. Using doctor/patient conversations as their case study, Discursis easily showed which meetings were beneficial to the patient. I can see this method being applied to a number of scenarios.

ScreenShot037 copy.jpgThere were a number of papers dealing with optimizing edge bundling and improving visual routing. Of the latter, a good method (PDF) was provided by

Markus Steinberger, Manuela Waldner, Marc Streit, Alexander Lex, and Dieter Schmalstie of Graz University of Technology which preserves as much of the context, whether it's text, image, map, etc., while still providing visually clear links between highlighted items. Their paper is a g...