Cognitive Methods for Information Visualization

Cognitive Methods for Information Visualization

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Effective visualizations of information support cognition in numerous ways. They offload cognitive load onto the external world, schematize and reduce complexity, aid in problem solving, and promote discovery, to name a few. Poor visualizations, on the other hand, confuse, mislead, and obscure. Many effective visualizations are developed by a community of users over time through a real-world spiral of production, comprehension, reproduction, and re-comprehension. This spiral process weeds out poor visualizations and cultivates good visualizations into excellent visualizations. But it is also unfeasibly slow and non-directed. This dissertation presents a cognitive experimental program to emulate and accelerate the real-world design spiral in the laboratory. This empirical exploration, design, and validation program is applied here to two different information domains, space, time, and agents, and cycles. For the paradigmatic task of visualizing the changing locations of agents in time, users' productions, preferences, and performance aligned to favor matrix representations with time as rows or columns and agents as entries. Varying the graphical elements used to represent the agents impacted performance, preferences, and the kinds of inferences people drew from the visualizations. In all situations, dots, as discrete graphical elements, were most effective for highlighting discrete entities and comparing quantities. Dots also encouraged more reasoning about the data, and elicited a greater number of explanations and hypotheses. In contrast, lines were better for identifying paths of movement over time. For the cycles domain, spontaneous productions revealed that people depict cycles as linear sets of events just as frequently as circular cycles. The tendency to think and represent processes linearly was also visible in diagram comprehension and use; cycle diagrams were imbued with a beginning and end. The results further revealed three effects on comprehending and completing cyclical diagrams: the spatial nature of the diagram; the content of the information expressed; and the spatial nature of the processes. Altogether, the multi-method design program presented here produced consensus on visualizations of time, space, and agents, uncovered flaws in common cycle visualizations, and illuminated new design considerations. Overall, the results provide support for this set of procedures as a valuable design tool for information visualization.For each cycle they were asked aquot;Please draw a simple diagram representing the following, aquot; and were given blank space in which to draw their diagrams. ... Seasons Water Cycle a€c Spring a€c From the clouds, water falls to the earth as rain.

Title:Cognitive Methods for Information Visualization
Author: Angela Mary Kessell
Publisher: - 2008

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