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    Exciting Research /  Design

    INFO VISUALIZATION: Ran across some interesting papers in Info related fields today:

    Rendering Effective Route Maps: Improving Usability Through Generalization

    Abstract: Route maps, which depict a path from one location to another, have emerged as one of the most popular applications on the Web. Current computer-generated route maps, however, are often very difficult to use. In this paper we present a set of cartographic generalization techniques specifically designed to improve the usability of route maps. Our generalization techniques are based both on cognitive psychology research studying how route maps are used and on an analysis of the generalizations commonly found in handdrawn route maps. We describe algorithmic implementations of these generalization techniques within LineDrive, a real-time system for automatically designing and rendering route maps. Feedback from over 2200 users indicates that almost all believe LineDrive maps are preferable to using standard computer-generated route maps alone.

    My take: AWESOME. The maps that most trip-planners give end users are cluttered and often too realistic. Making trip planner results simplified and, um, more like directions drawn on a napkin (in other words, more like a person would give directions and less like a computer would) could be a huge improvement.

    Designing Effective Step-By-Step Assembly Instructions

    Abstract: We present design principles for creating effective assembly instructions and a system that is based on these principles. The principles are drawn from cognitive psychology research which investigated a person's conceptual models of assembly and effective methods to visually communicate assembly information. Our system is inspired by earlier work in robotics on assembly planning and in visualization on automated presentation design. Although other systems have considered presentation and planning independently, we believe it is necessary to address the two problems simultaneously in order to create effective assembly instructions. We describe the algorithmic techniques used to produce assembly instructions given object geometry, orientation, and optional grouping and ordering constraints on the object's parts. Our results demonstrate that it is possible to produce aesthetically pleasing instructions for everyday objects that are easy to follow.

    My take: Come back to this paper if you ever need to do a heuristic eval on an assembly instructions.

    Visualizing Time in Social Networks with TeCFlow

    Abstract: This paper introduces TeCFlow – A Temporal Communication Flow Visualizer for Social Network Analysis. TeCFlow automatically generates interactive movies of communication flows among individuals by mining e-mail log files and other communication archives. Combining those movies with measures of social network analysis such as the change over time in group betweenness centrality and group density leads to insights into organizational dynamics. In addition we have defined a contribution index, which measures the activity of individual actors as senders and receivers of messages relative to a group.

    My take: Very cool. Practical? Eh, maybe not so much. Check out the videos there though, something about animated force-directed layout graphs just makes me happy.

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