Insight through Inquiry
296 pp., 7 x 9 in, 161 figures
- Published: October 19, 2012
- Publisher: The MIT Press
A guide to fundamental issues in designing interactive visualizations, exploring ideas of inquiry, design, structured data, and usability.
Interactive visualization is emerging as a vibrant new form of communication, providing compelling presentations that allow viewers to interact directly with information in order to construct their own understandings of it. Building on a long tradition of print-based information visualization, interactive visualization utilizes the technological capabilities of computers, the Internet, and computer graphics to marshal multifaceted information in the service of making a point visually. This book offers an introduction to the field, presenting a framework for exploring historical, theoretical, and practical issues. It is not a “how-to” book tied to specific and soon-to-be-outdated software tools, but a guide to the concepts that are central to building interactive visualization projects whatever their ultimate form.
The framework the book presents (known as the ASSERT model, developed by the author), allows the reader to explore the process of interactive visualization in terms of choosing good questions to ask; finding appropriate data for answering them; structuring that information; exploring and analyzing the data; representing the data visually; and telling a story using the data. Interactive visualization draws on many disciplines to inform the final representation, and the book reflects this, covering basic principles of inquiry, data structuring, information design, statistics, cognitive theory, usability, working with spreadsheets, the Internet, and storytelling.
Drawing on an impressive range of both academic and popular examples, and describing a rich set of methods and tools, Bill Ferster ably shows how compelling visual evidence can supplement and advance scholarly arguments. This book will provide a deep resource for robust scholarship in a digital age.
Dan Cohen, Director, Center for History and New Media, George Mason University
I am unacquainted with any book in the humanities that so clearly and usefully lays out the process of creating visualizations, taking students from conceptualization to data collection to representation. This book should be required reading for all digital humanists.
David J. Staley, Director, The Goldberg Center; Associate Professor of History, The Ohio State University