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Information visualization has often focused on providing deep insight for expert user populations and on techniques for amplifying cognition through complicated interactive visual models. This paper proposes a new subdomain for infovis research that complements the focus on analytic tasks and expert use. Instead of work-related and analytically driven infovis, we propose casual information visualization (or casual infovis) as a complement to more traditional infovis domains. Traditional infovis systems, techniques, and methods do not easily lend themselves to the broad range of user populations, from expert to novices, or from work tasks to more everyday situations. We propose definitions, perspectives, and research directions for further investigations of this emerging subfield. These perspectives build from ambient information visualization (Skog et al., 2003), social visualization, and also from artistic work that visualizes information (Viegas and Wattenberg, 2007). We seek to provide a perspective on infovis that integrates these research agendas under a coherent vocabulary and framework for design. We enumerate the following contributions. First, we demonstrate how blurry the boundary of infovis is by examining systems that exhibit many of the putative properties of infovis systems, but perhaps would not be considered so. Second, we explore the notion of insight and how, instead of a monolithic definition of insight, there may be multiple types, each with particular characteristics. Third, we discuss design challenges for systems intended for casual audiences. Finally we conclude with challenges for system evaluation in this emerging subfield.
Visualization and Computer Graphics, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:13 , Issue: 6 )
Date of Publication: Nov.-Dec. 2007