From CS 160 Fall 2011
Information Visualization Readings in Information Visualization. Chap 1. Card, Mackinlay, Schneiderman.
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Frank 11:52, 23 November 2011 (PST)
Pictures themselves are worth more than just ten thousand words because you can't store ten thousand words in your head at one time to actually use them. It's not that pictures themselves hold a ton of information, it's that they are persistent. This is really the key point about information visualization and recording on some persistent visual surface. It makes sense that multiplication is easy, but holding partial sums is hard. In essence, in this case, humans are a little like computers in that we're working memory limited. Computers only have a certain number of registers and it takes them very long to get to memory. The caches are essentially an analogue to humans writing something down to store partial sums when doing multiplication.
The article's discussion about using heuristics that people go by to name things is interesting as well. The idea of mapping and testing mappings are certainly important.
Warren He 10:53, 22 November 2011 (PST)
"A picture is worth ten thousand words." Man, they're only worth like a tenth of that where I'm from.
Cool, I've never heard of a nomograph before.
For the sleep/wake cycle diagram: why does the horizontal axis only cover three days? Shouldn't it cover seven?
Oh hey, I made something like figure 1.9. http://wonderfl.net/c/nRUC
Visualization is defined to be computer-based and interactive. Hm.
Anyway, here's what this passage covers in copious detail:
- evidence of how visualization helps
- examples of useful visualization
- types of visualizations and generalizations
- history of visualization
- ideas on how to visualize abstract concepts
- why and how visualization helps
- a data-to-view pipeline
- tips on choosing an appropriate kind of visualization
- an aside on human visual perception
- common themes for conveying various kinds of information
So yeah, it's quite an inclusive chapter. I consider it too long to be a single day's reading. This may be more appropriate as a reference manual, except that the chapter alone has no table of contents.
Eric Shih 16:38, 22 November 2011 (PST)
I definitely agree that visual representations of data are helpful, but I had not thought of why before. It makes sense that visual representations encode information that would otherwise have had to be stored internally in our mind, therefore in a way expanding the size of usable working memory. I think that one bonus of visual aids/information is that it can be interpretted in many ways. Some people may interpret only the basics, or even misinterpret them, but others can draw their own deeper insights. Using colors in visual aids is also an effective way to group and partition objects/things that would otherwise seem to have no connection.
Building upon visual aids is information visualization, which utilizes computer support to make interactive visual representations of abstract data. The whole goal is to amplify cognition. I think a real life product that is a perfect example is Palantir's government and finance products, which present the user with a very intuitive visual representation of relationships and flows between large sets of data, that would otherwise be unmanagable. It leverages visualization to help users/analysts to flag suspicious activity and make connections to identify fraudulent activities.
It seems to me that effectively visualizing information has a range of considerations, such as cost structure, stimulation, and retention, and is not so easy to do well. However, if done well, it has the ability to greatly aid and improve cognition through increased resources, less search time, leverage of recognizable patterns, and more. The article spends a good portion of time talking about raw data, data tables, and data structures, and gives a basic procedure on how to transform data into visual form. Perception is on the other side of visualization, and the way people perceive visualized information is important to keep in mind when designing information visualization systems.
Konstantin Rud 22:28, 22 November 2011 (PST)
I agree that visualizations are important for cognition. I definitely think that there are good and bad visualizations of data, we have already seen this in a fridge example. However, I do feel like there might be a lot of information in this article as visualization can be its own
Kevin Chung-Kai Wang 02:15, 23 November 2011 (PST)
Visualization is useful for cognition and triggering information so that we don't have to store them in our temporary memory, which is limited from the start. It's useful for grouping information that are related to each other so it's easier to remember later on. The idea that it allows us to process information externally from our temporary memory reminds me of how computers store information on running processes temporarily in RAM and registers instead of in permanent memory.
Nancy Wang 02:17, 23 November 2011 (PST)
Visualization is definitely crucial in helping the learning process. A lot of times information is hard to learn and remember in pure text only. Visual models such as diagrams and charts at least help categorize data and show relationships between factors. This article does tie in to the earlier lectures about recognition vs recall and creating models for user interface designs. At least for me, it's certainly easier to learn through visual aids since these tend to summarize the information reasonably well.
Ivan Motyashov 02:20, 23 November 2011 (PST)
One framework in which we could think about visualization is linguistics. For, indeed, what is visualization if not the encoding of information in a visual code? Of course, humans being extraordinarily visual creatures, we often find images to be immediately intelligible - much more rapidly so than words, for example, because we're naturally good at image recognition. Images serving as external memory is another aspect of visualization, but it seems like developing universal visual LANGUAGES is a promising avenue for research, as is developing a sort of meta-language to describe such visual codes.
Chetan Surpur 02:36, 23 November 2011 (PST)
There was quite a bit of dense information in this chapter, though the visualization of the data in the chapter helped. I guess it sort of proved its own point to some degree. Either way, I agree with the article that visualization can aid in cognition and recall. Humans are very visual creatures, and a lot of the time we can understand something better when it appeals to our vision and makes patterns in data obvious through visual representation.
Yongjin Jin 02:42, 23 November 2011 (PST)
The main point of this article was that visualization is important because humans don't have a huge temporary memory. Therefore, doing anything very complicated mentally is near impossible to do as our temporary memory can only do so much. All the benefits of visualizations stem from this fact.
The reason why writing, diagrams, and other visualisation aids help so much is that it expands our temporary memory. It doesn't physically expand our temporary memory, but it gives us an external memory to use. Our temporary memory allows us to work fast with the info in it, but is very small. Therefore, you save time by using external memory as problems get more complex. The info that doesn't fit inside our temporary memory can be kept outside for quicker access than trying to remember what we had in our temporary memory before.
Even for grouping objects and helping us recognize pattern, this is the reason. By using external memory, we are able to group things section at a time while if it was in our temporary memory, we would have to spend time trying to not forget what we already have while at the same time manipulating that temporary memory to be split into certain groups. Using external memory allows us to try different cominbations in our temporay memory by copying data from our external memory.
Michael Chen 14:32, 23 November 2011 (PST)
Visualization is definitely how I learn. With more than just words, our understandings are deeper and make more sense. Words seem to be unable to transfer as much meaning as pictures.
Vincent Chiu 04:06, 23 November 2011 (PST)
The article was really long for having only a couple days to read it. I felt like it was interesting that the visualization helps humans with memory because our working memory is unable to hold much data and much of our knowledge is stored in long term memory which can be triggered by an external source, so using external memory to help us keep track of different things and as a reference allows us to work much more quickly than if we were trying to simply remember everything alone. It's also interesting because English, being an alphabetical language, encodes the meaning of words much differently than Chinese, which encodes entire meanings to a single logogram. The Chinese method is much more efficient in terms of reading and understanding, but equally more difficult to learn.
Sylvia Lin 09:37, 23 November 2011 (PST)
Visualization is defined as the use of computer-supported, interactive, and visual representations of data to amplify cognition. I agree that pictures and graphics are absolutely helpful for conveying ideas, mostly because words can not always specifically state what a person wants to. Additionally, using computer-supported representations allows the use of graphics and coloring to bring a person's attention to specific parts of a representation. The article gives an example of the periodic table, where the visualization allows a user to find specific values and trends easily with the use of coloring. I also never thought about how having visuals gives us a direct mapping and allows us to conserve brainpower for other functions.
BoYan Li 10:18, 23 November 2011 (PST)
In the article, from the figure about time to mulitply by mental and paper & pencil, we could know that visual and manipulative use of the external world amplifies cognitive performance. Since the cognition is the acuisition or use of knowledge, information visualization is a very useful way to let us understand the thing much better than only by context. Its purpose is to use perception to amplify cognition. Also, the article gives us the picture of knowledge crystalization task, which shows us how a person gathers information for some purpose, make sense of it by constructing a representational framework and then packages it into some form for communication or action.
Phoebe 10:25, 23 November 2011 (PST)
The reading makes a good point about how the way data is visualized is important. Using the wrong visualization, as in the case of the Challenger rocket launch, can lead to erroneous decisions. On the other side of that coin, using a good visualization can lead to insights that would have been difficult to see otherwise. It is also cool to think that our surroundings are an extension of our memories and thinking processes. It's easy to not pay attention to how much we use things like paper, computers, etc. to remember or figure things out, just because we are so accustomed to using them.
Filbert Hansel 11:13, 23 November 2011 (PST)
Just an after thought: If visualization can make us smarter, is the blind left at disadvantage? Having the eyes as our main sensory gate for getting information is enough for computing to succeed this far, but I do hope for more ubiquitous computing on our other senses. As mentioned at the end of the article, good visualization makes us smart, but bad ones can make us stupid. I think this only mentions that good information being told at a good manner is the factor that makes us smarter. If this is the case, I think HCI studies should also put more attention to aural computing, tactile computing, and other kind of computing using the smell and taste, so as to eventually push the boundary of a tangible system. If it is out there, I hope that they get more attention in this class, as this is a survey that should open our mind to the great possibilities out there and not just what has been very visible to the general mass.
Minkai Ong 11:24, 23 November 2011 (PST)
The article talks about the importance of using visual aids. Using visual aids will greatly enhance our cognitive performance. For example, an experiment was done to measure the amount of time a person takes to do multiplication with and without using paper and pencil. The experiment showed that people without paper and pencil took 5 times longer than the people with paper and pencil.
I kinda agree with the article. A lot of cognitive process is made much easier when we have visual aids. For example when we do brainstorming or storyboarding, we don't just do it in our heads, we put them on paper (or any visual aid devices).
Harvey Chang 11:42, 23 November 2011 (PST)
The article describes how visualization and visual learning are very effective ways to solve problems and learn and remember new concepts. Humans are naturally tuned to recognize images. Therefore visual aids are very effective especially when compared to strictly text based information. Our cognizance is constantly exposed to the world through images, and using images in an effective way can greatly enhance one's grasp of a certain subject.
Guoxiong Xie 11:43, 23 November 2011 (PST)
I can't agree more with the arguments of this article. Human tends to memorize things well using visual aid and recognize pictures faster than words. This suggests that when designing UI, pictures are more powerful than words. For example, a user want to make a phone call and looks for the keypad app in the menu. A picture looking like a keypad is easier to be recognized by the user than a word "keypad". Yet, this requires icons and pictures that are intuitive enough for the users. Otherwise, pictures could be misleading.
Victor Krimshteyn 11:45, 23 November 2011 (PST)
This article was a very interesting exploration of how we use visual aids to think, i.e. to gain knowledge about the world that we wouldn't otherwise have. It stresses the importance of information visualization, which allows us to see hidden patterns in data that would otherwise be near impossible to decipher behind a giant wall of information. I think that using computers to create visual aids is in fact really important - not just for having information, but specifically for using information. When information is presented in a colorful, engaging manner it is much easier to use the information to make decisions.
Ieong Chon Lo 11:46, 23 November 2011 (PST)
As the article mentions, visualization is useful for cognition and recall as human cannot always store information in their temporary memory. Visualization helps to encode data and information to let us easier to remember and make connection between factors. Human being is creative, they use their eye to explore, see and understand large amount of information. Because of our creation, visualization can help us to obtain large amount of information in short time. This applied to our project all the time, we need draw the storyboard and user case to remind our team what we are building. Storyboard gives us visualization the real user case and makes us focus on that. Visualization is everywhere in our life.
Jonathan Tien 12:07, 23 November 2011 (PST)
As someone who strongly considers himself a "visual learner" and also a "visual thinker," data visualization is at once crucial to me, and also somewhat natural. I was never good at rote memorization, and storing things straight. But visualizing information in any sort of chart, diagram, etc, made it really easy for me to grasp and understand. I think regardless of what kind of learner or thinker you are though, human beings are for the most part, fundamentally visual creatures (aside from the vision-impaired). Ironically, computers are the opposite, receiving input largely in the form of sheer raw data, whereas humans process predominantly visual stimulus. This leads to very different internal models and ways of operating. So in HCI, or interface design, the ability to bridge the gap between computer and human requires good use of visualization methods - in this way the computer can adapt its internal model of raw data to suit the cognition of a human, who works slightly differently.
Evan Kawahara 12:42, 23 November 2011 (PST)
I found this piece to be particularly important, given that I think information visualization is key in promoting understanding. The piece defines visualization as "the use of computer-supported, interactive, visual representations of data to amplify cognition." Ignoring the fact that basic visualization does not necessary entail computer-supported representations (for the sake of a CS class this makes sense), I think the most important thing to take away is that the visual representation must amplify cognition. This is what makes visualization so valuable. The piece makes a number of distinctions in the types of visualizations that exist: scientific visualization applies to scientific data and information visualization is visualization applied to abstract data, for instance. Distinctions occur for a number of reasons, and the piece brings up the notion that some data is physical while some is abstract. The visualization of physical data seems much easier to imagine, because a physical model gives good ground for ways to visualize a piece, but abstract data seems much less intuitive in my opinion. The piece also discusses the way in which visualization actually helps cognition, and referred to a study which pointed to the fact that visualization allows for grouping the grouping of information and led to more intuitive inferences. I would like to add to these conclusions, that in my opinion, visualization can be a stronger point of reinforcing specific points about data, not just that conclusions are easier to infer, but that they are also easier to remember.
Matthew Leung 15:51, 7 December 2011 (PST)
This was a great article on showing the importance of visualization in understanding. Having appropriate diagrams and images can make learning a very difficult conceptual task much easier. Having a strong visualization component can reduce the mental workload significantly. It is definitely a challenge though, to produce clear images and models from data that may be unclear or confusing.
Jie Min Wong 13:23, 23 November 2011 (PST)
I agree with the article that information visualization is an extension to our working memory. It argues that information visualization will eventually become part of mainstream computing. I think this is already happening, especially with the advent of touch-screen devices with a huge amounts of screen real-estate that users could directly interact with. An example of an application that makes very good use of this idea is Kno, a textbook app for touch-screen devices. One of its main features, Kno 3D, can transform any diagram in selected textbooks into 3D models that the reader could interact with. Students find it much more effective to learn with these visual aids.
Katelyn Sills 13:35, 23 November 2011 (PST)
This article reminded me of the reason we were given for wanting to sketch our designs early in the process – the act of visualizing our ideas would in turn provoke new ideas. It’s intriguing how the visualization of data can allow us to see patterns that we would not have seen before. I was especially interested in the idea that a human user could find patterns in a computer generated model that an algorithm could not, as in the case of the long-distance call scams. It seemed to me that in this case, the algorithm was just not good enough. If machine learning was done correctly, the computer should be superior to the human user in discovering scams.
Gautam Jain 13:46, 23 November 2011 (PST)
I had never thought of how visualization plays such an important role cognition - perhaps its because I hadn't considered something as simple as multiplying on paper is really a form of visualization itself. The chapter talks about how visual representations allows an individual to 'save' or hold partial pieces of information outside of the mind, effectively extending a person's working memory. Not only was it interesting to see this play a role in the different forms of visualization discussed in the chapter, but it also has some relation to the 'design -> prototype -> evaluate' cycle. A possible reason rapid lo-fi prototyping is so valuable is that:
- it allows an individual to put down nebulous ideas on paper
- take time off or away from thinking
- come back and evaluate the protoype from different (and probably more holistic) perspectives.
Manduo Dong 13:50, 23 November 2011 (PST)
The article talks about how visualization can effectively help us with learning and understanding new things. One example shown in the article, Multiplication aid, shows us that people with visual aid can perform the task 5 times faster than those who don't. Also, translating raw data into data table will also help us remember the data in each category. I think that visual aid is very important for cognition. Not only in the field of earth science as described in the article, but also everything we encounter we tend to draw the picture rather using plain text to describe it when possible. This is because the picture can tell more story than the text.
Another interesting thing I learned from this article is that visualization not always make us smart. It can however, sometimes make us stupid as well. Therefore, a good visualization is required for us to be smarter while bad/junk graphics and misleading mappings will destroy our cognition.
Sorin Kim 14:10, 23 November 2011 (PST)
This article describes the importance of visualizing data. Much like Norman's observations in The Design of Everyday Things, this article talks about how visualization helps people communicate information better and allows people to store information "in the world" instead of "in the head" so it acts like an extension of the amount of information they can consciously think about at a time.
Wei Jiang 14:10, 23 November 2011 (PST)
It was interesting to recognize how many things we do are enhanced by visualizing them--from doing math to organizing data. The reading gives the solid reasoning for having a dedicated design space--a place to lay out and draw sketches, storyboards, post-its full of modifications, etc. Having a place to literally "arrange" our thoughts and ideas is a really powerful tool as we rely very much on that which is tangible.
Peter Tsoi 14:18, 23 November 2011 (PST)
I think that humans would love to be able to understand numbers but by the nature and limitations of our memory, we simply don't digest large sets of numbers and words quite as well as we digest images. Visually, this is why charts and graphs are easier to understand than huge plots of numbers. From an interface standpoint, visualization has its relations all the way back to the storyboarding phase. The difference between a specification of how an application works and actually seeing it is like night and day. Since understanding an app or a product is more about the overall picture and not a singular piece of information at any given time, seeing a visualization of the interface does exactly that: show the big picture and concept without focusing in on any one specific aspect.
Omar Rehmane 14:20, 23 November 2011 (PST)
Visualization is important to learning, or even just communication. Diagrams, charts, all those kinds of things are great ways to get a lot of information across, especially as often times textual communication is translating a visualization into text and then back out again. This allows everyone to get a similar understanding because that interim step is skipped. This aids communication, because everyone is dealing with the same data.
Scott Goodfriend 14:28, 23 November 2011 (PST)
Card et al. are introducing the importance, terminology, and a history of the field of information visualization, particularly when using computer-based graphics to assist in amplifying cognition. The authors emphasize the primary goal of visualization is insight, of which the main goals are "discovery, decision making, and explanation." Pretty pictures need to serve a purpose. However, in my opinion prettiness is in itself a valid purpose.
The authors begin with a series of examples on how external tools help "make us smarter." For example, using paper & pencil is 5-fold faster than mental multiplication. Also, like the saying that "A picture is worth a thousand words", graphics have allowed scientists, analysts, and navigators to store and access large amounts of data to find important and useful patterns. The author's example from the Challenger explosion shows "how the right representation of a problem, often the right visual representation, can make a problematic decision obvious. [...] 'There are right ways and wrong ways to show data; there are displays that reveal the truth and displays that do not.'" This is a common problem, often seen in figures of data and research.
The authors describe the process of Knowledge Crystallization", using external and visual tools to formalize a research process using data, an explicit task, and a schema to use the data to form a decision on the task. The important steps to this process are (1) Information foraging, (2) Search for a schema, (3) Instantiate schema with data, (4) Trade off features, (5) Search for a new schema that reduces the problem, & (6) package.
Januardo Kusuma 14:31, 23 November 2011 (PST)
Visualization is a really powerful tool that most people underestimate. No matter how good someone is at writing, visualization always wins. A really good visualization, i.e. picture or graph or any form, gets preferred most of the time by people because it is easy to understand. Picture can be indeed worth a thousand of words.
Come from my personal experience, pictures always help me memorizing things. They are a lot better than notes. Especially if the pictures have some elements in them such as funny, surprise, unique. If there are combinations of them in a picture, people will most likely remember the picture for quite a long time. In my case, it really helps me understanding concepts.
Huan Ji 15:09, 23 November 2011 (PST)
The chapter is pretty abstract, especially for the connection between mathematics and visualization application. No doubt, visualization is very important for human beings, not only does it can entertains us, but also gives us some information beyond our imagination. What I feel valuable about the article is its analysis about the visualization development undert the influence of the advanced technology. The analysis is pretty specific and helpful for understanding the visualization development. It provides some powerful analytical strategies for us to combine our UI design with potential application for our customers. What I feel more interested in the chapter is about how it connects the visualization data with the computer science such as data structure, class, etc. Even though it doesn't instruct us in a coding way, it implies some algorithms. It's the first time for me to read such a kind of research papers about the visualization data; however, I learn that UI design is both about visual effect and information which can be used to analyze our life, our society, and the world.
Victor Tjhia 15:18, 23 November 2011 (PST)
I agree with the article about the importance about visualization as it is the main interface between users and computer. Psychologically, people will first interpret what they see in the system before interacting with it. The main importance of information visualization is to make the user understand the system (how to control and interact with it) and to add addition design to interest more users to use the system.
Allan Yu 15:22, 23 November 2011 (PST)
The section of the article about how visualizations amplify cognition is especially interesting. This, I feel, is most relevant to this course. Interfaces are essentially visualizations and it acts as a middle-man between cognition and a system. This article promotes a complex system for visualizing information that begins with raw data that is then translated into a raw table and is mapped to visual structure. I think the concept of view transformations is an interesting idea.. being able to increase how much you can visualize by using view transformations is something to look into when trying to improve one's cognition.
Stacy Hsueh 16:30, 23 November 2011 (PST)
The authors in the article emphasize the importance of visualization to augmentation of cognitive capacities. Knowledge about visualization's effect on cognition is especially useful for designers. Designers who utilize visual techniques to organize information will create more effective products than designers who rely on textual representations of information. Examples of such visualization techniques are graphs, charts, diagrams, and tables. Works of Tufte are prime examples of visualizing information.
Gong Cheng 16:58, 23 November 2011 (PST)
The reading discusses the origin, reason, importance and applications of information visualization. According to the reading and my personal experience, it is indeed easier to remember and look at informations that are represented visually. A very simple example could be that the graphical illustration of classical novels which are presented to kids who have little patience and logic understanding. These books do a great job in giving the ideas to the kids who will otherwise turn their back against the story itself. In the reading, similar examples include, diagrams, charts which are the visual representations of the information behind them.
Jay Chen 17:33, 24 November 2011 (PST)
I find that I agree that visualization is an important aspect of understanding concepts. The article's method of connecting visualization to abstract areas of computer science such as data structure is incredibly interesting. I never thought about it before, but when we think of a data "tree" or a "stack" we envision these in our heads as part of our understanding. I believe that by connecting these rigorously will help user interface design. It's important to be aware of how the user will perceive how the information will be represent. One part I found especially interesting is how much faster humans are at computing when we have visual aids. So I think this can relate to affordances as both point to how users will interact with an interface.
Felix Wong 23:46, 26 November 2011 (PST)
This reading discusses the importance of visualizing information. Using visualization as a tool is known to help in a presentation, though not known to what degree. Visualization helps us in ways that I did not know before, specifically, helping us memorize something. It also helps us solve problems easier. It is interesting to see that mapping data in a spreadsheet into some form of visual representation presents much more information than if it stayed in the spreadsheet. It is interesting to see that the general steps to make a visual is to translate the raw data into a table and then to map it to the visual element. I would agree with this article in saying that a person would absorb as much as, if not more, than reading the same information in text form.
Calvin Hu 12:15, 28 November 2011 (PST)
All of us know the benefits of pictures or visualizations - I shudder at the thought of a textbook devoid of diagrams, though I could swear one of my math textbooks tried its hardest to avoid them. The reading gave me basically every reason why I hated that book - it went on seemingly forever about the cognitive reasons why, for instance, a table is an effective form of displaying data. For like, 10 pages.
Actually, for a reading on the value of diagrams, it sure had a lot of text. Near the end, I found myself skimming through and looking at the diagrams… I suppose that's a good example of the effectiveness of visualizations.
Deryu0502 17:01, 28 November 2011 (PST)
I like the knowledge crystallization part. And I like how the article compares different ways to present the data to the readers to see the effects.