Goal oriented visualizations? (via Erik Duval’s Weblog)

Charles Minard's 1869 chart showing the losses...
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Visualizations and their efficacy always takes me back to Edward Tufte‘s big hard cover books on Infographics (or Chart Junk when it’s done badly). In terms of this specific category, visualization leading to a goal I think it’s still very much a ‘general case’. But examples are always better than theoretical descriptions of an ideal. So while I don’t have an example to give (which is what Erik Duval really wants) I can at least point to a person who knows how Infographics get misused.

I’m also reminded somewhat of the most recent issue of Wired Magazine where there’s an article on feedback loops. How are goal oriented visualizations different from or better than feedback loops? I’d say that’s an interesting question to investigate further. The primary example given in that story is the radar equipped speed limit sign. It doesn’t tell you the posted speed. It merely tells you how fast you are going and that by itself apart from ticketing and making the speed limit signs more noticeable did more to effect a change in behavior than any other option. So maybe a goal oriented visualization could also benefit from some techniques like feedback loops?

Some of the fine fleur of information visualisation in Europe gathered in Brussels today at the Visualizing Europe meeting. Definitely worth to follow the links of the speakers on the program! Twitter has a good trace of what was discussed. Revisit offers a rather different view on that discussion than your typical twitter timeline. In the Q&A session, Paul Kahn asked the Rather Big Question: how do you choose between different design alterna … Read More

via Erik Duval’s Weblog



2 responses to “Goal oriented visualizations? (via Erik Duval’s Weblog)”

  1. erikduval Avatar

    Feedback loops are certainly a very intriguing aspect: in my view, if a visualization is goal oriented, then i can be much more effective if it indicates progress towards the goal, so that it can be part of the user’s feedback loop during his actions…

    OK, that sounds very abstract… Simple example: visualizing tasks that are completed on a task list gives subtle encouragement to the user and an indication of progress. Or jogging apps like runkeeper or the nike one do this kind of thing too. Or quantified self oriented apps like rescuetime…

    (Thx for the pointer to the wired article: hadn’t noticed that one yet!)

    1. carpetbomberz Avatar

      I was being a little opportunistic using that article, I think Wired.com posted it the same decided to post about your blog entry. Thinking about some of the running apps also reminds me of the current meme surrounding ‘gamification’ and attempting to turn ‘work’ and putting a layer or skin on it that would seemingly turn it into a game. That is to say somehow if playing Farmville or Angry Birds (both a form of a visualization) could be tied into some meaningful other kind of activity (trading stocks or solving physics problems). Goals, targets, levels all can be represented within games differently (high score, leveling up, solving a puzzle) but being able to find the appropriateness or affinity for one kind over another as you point out is difficult. It sounds much like a Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) topic of some sort, and I don’t know the literature.

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