GTI Visualization

Recently, we’ve been holding weekly seminars at the GTI to discuss research issues in the information visualization field. Visualization is perceived as a subject very relevant in several domains. Reflecting this, the GTI is investigating visualization solutions in 3 different projects: IMP·ART (onset data in Digital Cinema), Bestiario (supporting tools), EQLIM (social data). We will be posting about these projects regularly in this section of the web. To begin with, this first post is about a couple of sessions that we dedicated to storytelling in visualization.

Figure 1: A great storytelling example, the famous map of Napoleon’s Russian Campaign by Joseph Minard.

During our meetings, we discussed a recent paper by R. Kosera et al. [1] where they have proposed storytelling as the next research focus to address the issue of presentation and communication of data. The paper claims that several classical visualizations , such as Minard’s map (Figure 1), Nightingale’s charts, and Snow’s map of cholera, are paradigmatic as addressing communication, rather than exploration and analysis, which have been the research focus in the field so far. The paper proposes to adopt the narrative style of journalism and, within this framework, defines several scenarios of use. As Quim (Colàs) and Alan (Tapscot) are researching in collaborative narratives, we took a different approach and discussed Minard’s Map in terms of semiotics analysis, such as its two phases in terms of axiological level, or the actants (and their narrative programs) in the two phases. In the near future, we are planning to adopt semiotic analysis in our on-going Syrian Conflict visualizations (Figure 2) to be able to enhance the understanding of the multidimensional data that we are working with in this project.

Figure 2: A snapshot from our visualization system, which tells the story of Syrian Conflict victims.

For a better understanding of the visualization aspects that we mentioned and more, we recommend everyone to read the recent excellent book by Alberto Cairo [2], which explains visual representation paradigms clearly.

[1] Storytelling: The Next Step for Visualization
[2] The Functional Art. An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization