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Panel Session 6: Datavis pragmatics

Fallacies in Information-Visualisation

Patrick Allo, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Understanding information visualisation as a reasoning and communication tool doesn’t only require a systematic understanding of its intended functioning (i.e. correct reasoning and reliable communication), but also a better insight in its potential failures. The latter aspect can help us to recognise how information-visualisations can be used to mislead (the critical perspective also present in argumentation theory), but it can also lead to a deeper understanding of the trade-offs that have to be negotiated when designing a visualisation (the design perspective).

The upshot of this talk is to take a closer look at the latter aspect by developing an account of fallacies in information-visualisation, focus on the following common techniques in visualisation:

  1. Informational shortcuts (information-hiding, fudging distinction, exploiting imprecision) as a means to jump to conclusions,
  2. Data-transformations like re-ordering, clustering or compressing information as a means to discover or reveal patterns in the data,

And ask how we can distinguish epistemically beneficial from epistemically detrimental uses of these techniques.

To conclude, the issue of visual fallacies will be reconsidered against the background of contemporary visual analytics and its emphasis on obtaining actionable insight.

 

Diagrammatic Visualizations in Text Interpretation

Lívia Barts, University of Budapest

In my proposed talk I wish to present an experimental interpretative text-visualization method and its educational applicability. The research project originated from the hypothesis that complex theoretical argumentations may, in many cases, be better mapped visually, spreading freely along the picture-plane, than as bullet-pointed, classic linear notes. The project’s first phase was an open call in 2015 for design and humanities students to create visualizations for core texts in art- and cultural theory. The aim of this first phase was to test whether the core structure, concepts and relations in these texts can be consensually mapped. The second phase was a university course with media, film and aesthetics students of ELTE, where the method of diagrammatic text visualization was used both at individual and group level to enhance better understanding. The course had a double aim: to test the method as a process (used in class) and as a product (used in publication). In addition to the practice-based side, the project includes a theoretical research and a systematization of various visualization approaches from algorithmic data visualization to sketchnoting. This matrix includes axes that classify the approaches according to the types of data (quantitative-qualitative) and the mode of its processing (algorithmic-interpretative).

 

Use of Data Visualisation for Social Research in Formative Evaluations

Neil Richards, CFE Research Ltd

CFE Research uses data visualisation for a number of clients for whom we conduct longitudinal evaluation or programmes. We conduct formative evaluation in order that clients can apply emerging learning of the context and mechanisms by which impact is achieved. In this paper we consider and demonstrate the types of visualisations suited to such studies; the use of visualisation to gain buy-in and support for evaluation from participating projects; the use of visualisation to drive-up data quality and visualisation as a tool for action. We consider what the common, key elements of this use of visualisation are and discuss the positioning of data visualisation tools in parallel with traditional reporting methods.

We also report on the challenges of securing funding for those who see visualisation as a ‘nice to have’ luxury output rather than an essential component of effective longitudinal evaluation. We also consider the way in which such data visualisation is ‘consumed’ by different stakeholders, from front-line staff and programme beneficiaries to managers and commissioners. Finally we will report on future ideas for data visualisation projects such as the combination of interactive visualisations within text reports and proposed new visualisation work on individuals’ accelerometer data.

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