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SIMS 247: Information Visualization and Presentation Marti Hearst Oct 10, 2005 Today Another animation example Fluid documents The third dimension The information visualizer and follow-ons Navigating in 3D space The debate: does 3D help? Cognitive abilities and 3D 3D vs 2D Alternative:

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Today l.jpg

  • Another animation example

    • Fluid documents

  • The third dimension

    • The information visualizer and follow-ons

    • Navigating in 3D space

    • The debate: does 3D help?

      • Cognitive abilities and 3D

      • 3D vs 2D

    • Alternative:

      • 2.5D sequences (Automatic generation of assembly instructions)

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Fluid Documents

  • Zellweger, Chang, Mackinlay. Fluid links for informed and incremental hypertext browsing. CHI'99 Extended Abstracts

  • Better document-reading interface

  • Combines

    • Lightweight animation

    • Focus + context

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3D + Animation

  • Pioneered by Card and Robertson

    • Had state-of-the-art graphics hardware; wanted to see what happens when pushing the boundaries

    • Motivated by Card & Moran’s theories of cognitive architecture

  • Information Visualizer (PARC)

  • WebBook/Webforager (PARC, 1996)

  • Data Mountain (MS Research, 1998)

  • Task Gallery (MS Research, 2000)

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Information Workspaces

  • Objective:

    • Decrease the costs for performing information-intensive tasks, or, alternatively, increase the scope of information that can be utilized for the same cost.

  • Method:

    • Large Workspaces

      • Make the immediate workspace virtually larger

    • Real-Time Interaction

      • Maximize the interaction rates

    • Visual Abstractions

      • Speed assimilation and pattern detection


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Information Visualizer


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Web Forager


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Robertson, Czerwinski et al, 1998

Follow-on to Information Visualizer

Organizing bookmarks using pile metaphor


Spatial organization

3D view with 2D interaction

Cartoon animation details

Subtle audio cues


Is this better than 2D?

Data Mountain

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Task Gallery

Robertson et al., 2000


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3D vs. 2D

  • Cockburn & McKenzie ’02

    • Results for prior work with 3D systems are primarily negative for viz of things that are not inherently in 3D, but really results are mixed

    • Compared 2D, 2½D and 3D views of web page thumbnails

    • Did this for both physical and virtual interfaces

    • Compared sparse, medium, and dense displays

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3D vs. 2D

  • Cockburn & McKenzie ’02

    • Results:

      • Time taken sig. increased through 2D -> 3D interfaces

      • Subjective assessment sig. decreased 2D -> 3D

      • Performance degraded with denser problems

      • 3D virtual interface produced the slowest times

      • People prefered the physical interfaces

      • People were better at using their spatial memory than they expected to be

      • There was a problem with the physical 2½D display

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Interacting with 3D spaces

  • Path-drawing for 3D walkthrough, Igarashi et al, UIST ’98

  • Problem: interacting with 3D via 2D screens

  • Solution: be clever about how to convert 2D to 3D based on what the user is likely to intend

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The Role of Cognitive Abilities

  • Leitheiser & Munro ‘95

    • Summarizes the results of earlier psychological research on spatial aptitiude

    • Also summarizes work on effects of spatial aptitude and UI use

    • Presents a study comparing a GUI with a command line interface, taking spatial abilities into account

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The Role of Cognitive Abilities

  • Leitheiser & Munro ’95

  • Hypotheses:

    • Users with high spatial ability would benefit more from the GUI than those with low spatial ability (H1)

    • Users with high verbal ability would perform better on command line interfaces (H2)

  • Tasks:

    • Obtain system time, list files, look up a file update time, open a subdirectory, move a file, copy a file, etc

    • Between subjects GUI (Mac) vs. Command line (DOS)

  • Findings:

    • H1 supported

    • H2 not supported

    • Everyone did better on the GUI

      • Low spatial ability users using the GUI required 90% of the time needed for command line interface

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Infovis Meta-Analysis

(Empirical studies of information visualization:

a meta-analysis, Chen & Yu IJHCS 53(5),2000)

  • Goal

    • Find invariant underlying relations suggested collectively by empirical findings from many different studies

  • Procedure

    • Examine the literature of empirical infoviz studies

      • 35 studies between 1991 and 2000

      • 27 focused on information retrieval tasks

      • But due to wide differences in the conduct of the studies and the reporting of statistics, could use only 6 studies

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Infovis Meta-Analysis

(Empirical studies of information visualization:

a meta-analysis, Chen & Yu IJHCS 53(5),2000)

  • Conclusions:

    • IR Infoviz studies not reported in a standard format

    • Individual cognitive differences had the largest effect

      • Especially on accuracy

      • Somewhat on efficiency

    • Holding cognitive abilities constant, users did better with simpler visual-spatial interfaces

    • The combined effect of visualization is not statistically significant

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Gender differences and 3D

  • Previous studies often found gender differences in 3D navigation

  • Czerwinski et al. wondered why; saw a hint in one study, did a followup study in detail

  • Idea: change the assumptions

    • Make screen wider

    • Gender performance differences disappear

    • Both improved

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Sequences of Steps vs 3D + Animation

  • Heiser, Phan, Agarwala, Tversky, Hanrahan ‘04

  • Domain: assembly instructions

  • Identify

    • How people conceive of 3D assemblies

    • How people comprehend visual instructions

  • Validate

    • Build automated instruction design system

    • Evaluate usability of resulting instructions

Slides from Heiser et al.

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Ensure Visibility of Parts

  • Show parts added in each step

  • Show mode and location of attachment

  • Avoid changing viewpoint

  • Use physically stable orientation

Slides from Heiser et al.

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Illustrate Assembly Operations

  • Use action diagrams rather than structural

  • Use arrows and guidelines to indicate attachment

Structural diagrams

Action diagrams

Slides from Heiser et al.

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Usability Study

  • 30 Participants

  • Given 1 of 3 instruction sets: hand-drawn, factory, computer

  • Assemble TV stand using instructions

Slides from Heiser et al.

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Instructions Tested



Computer generated

Slides from Heiser et al.

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Time to assemble


  • Errors:Hand-drawn 1.6 Factory 0.6 Computer 0.5

  • Users rated task as easiest in computer condition




Hand-drawn Factory Computer

Slides from Heiser et al.

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Next Time

  • Martin Wattenberg!

    • SIMS distinguished lecture: 4-5:30pm

    • Our class too

  • Some of Martin’s Projects:

    • Map of the Market

    • Baby names visualizer

    • Music arcs

    • History flow

    • Bioinformatics visualization

    • Conversation visualization