Complexity, Complication, Visualization and Interaction

According to the article of Veronique Greenwood in SEED Magazine about data visualization, complication is the problem, and interaction is the solution: “One way to solve the problem of overly complicated diagrams is to introduce interactivity.” Interactivity is also a way to escape the flatness of certain maps: “interactive displays may be much more useful than inert maps. A flat picture of a network does not suffice.” Colin Ware – quoted in the article – introduce some numbers: 30 is the maximum of nodes for a flat-non-interactive diagram; with interactivity you can “work up to few thousands”. Moreover, network diagrams are considered among “the most confusing new visualizations”.

It has to be said that normally we don’t work with massive database neither with final users when we produce our visualizations – especially in the Density Design Master Course. Anyway, we have here something to think about. And probably also something to say. At least, what I miss often in this critiques is a deeper consideration in scope, context and target: something that makes the difference if we talk about design!

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