James Cheshire writes:
Last week I attended the Association of American Geographers Annual Conference and heard a talk by Robert Groves, Director of the US Census Bureau. Aside the impressiveness of the bureau’s work I was struck by how Groves conceived of visualisations as requiring either fast thinking or slow thinking. Fast thinking data visualisations offer a clear message without the need for the viewer to spend more than a few seconds exploring them. These tend to be much simpler in appearance, such as my map of the distance that London Underground trains travel during rush hour.
Betraying my reader-response background, I would argue that fast/slow nature of maps may well be found in the reader.
Particularly if the reader is also a customer paying for a visualisation of data or a visual interface for a topic map.
It makes little difference whether I find the interface/visualisation fast/slow, intuitive or not. It makes a great deal of difference how the customer finds it.
A quick example: The moving squares with lines that re-orient themselves. Would not even be my last choice for an interface. And I have used very large tomes that have cross-references from page to page that are the equivalent of those moving square displays.
The advantage I see in the manual equivalent is that I can refer back to the prior visualisation. True, I can try to retrace my steps on the moving graphic but that is unlikely.
An improvement to the moving boxes I don’t like? Make each change a snapshot that I can recall, perhaps displayed as a smallish line of snapshots.
Some of those snapshots may be fast or slow, when I display them to you. Hard to say until you see them.