Visualization as a Knowledge Transfer

Visualization as a Knowledge Transfer

Anna Ursyn (University of Northern Colorado, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch443
OnDemand PDF Download:
List Price: $37.50


This overview inspects visualization tools and applications enabling visualization of data, information, and knowledge. The background is provided first about visualizing information in a pictorial yet abstract rather than illustrative way. Further text discusses visual metaphors as a basic structure in metaphorical language of visualization. Selected methods and tools are introduced, and the ways visualization transfers knowledge and mediates between the user and the physical world, supporting cognitive ways of learning and teaching. Nature derived metaphors serve as bio-inspired, interdisciplinary models. The importance of visual and technological literacy is discussed, along with a need of teaching visualization methods as an important part of the current educational strategies. Concluding remarks examine how metaphorical visualization may support learning and teaching, and why visual and technological literacy should be taught and trained since early childhood.
Chapter Preview


Information is usually presented in numerical, graphic, or diagrammatic form; it may be shown as a sketch, drawing, diagram, plan, outline, image, geometric relationship, map, music and dance notation, object, interactive installation, or a story. Diagrams visualize information in a pictorial yet abstract (rather than illustrative) way: as plots, line-graphs and charts, or the engineers or architects’ blueprints. Complicated presentations of data organization and interpretation, for example governmental statistics are easier to comprehend in a graphic than in a numerical form, when they serve as explanatory tools for the data sets. Thus, visualizations change numerical data into graphs, clouds (Chen, 2010), tree visualizations (Shneiderman, 2014; Lima, 2014), network data, time-based, interactive, metaphorical visualization designs, and other formats.

Visualization means the communication of information with graphical representations. At the present time, visualization means using the computer, which transforms data into information, and then visualization converts information into picture forms. Graphic images and symbols convey and express the meaning of abstract data, which lets us comprehend data and make discoveries, decisions, or explanations about patterns or individual items (Shneiderman, 1996). Thus communication through visualization is at the same time pictorial and linguistic. It is socially and culturally conditioned, based on familiar linguistic patterns, as in a ‘pie chart’ metaphor for market shares, or a ‘starry night’ metaphor showing data in 3D (Bertschi & Bubenhofer, 2005).

Cognitive way of learning and teaching may involve cooperation with specialists in several disciplines. Computer scientists and artists apply visual way of presentation while working, for example with mathematicians, anthropologists, designers, and architects to conduct computer analysis of facades and architectural details. Professionals performing scientific presentations and researchers in fields of natural sciences, medicine, pharmacology, biology, geology, or chemistry examine and visualize symmetry and patterns in natural and human-made structures. Many artists have created masterpieces this way. Visualization serves as an efficient tool that assists practitioners creating communication media-art, installations, animated video or film, architectural projects, designing newspapers and magazines, or working on website design. Users apply visualizations to understand how data analyses and queries relate to each other. From simple charts and data graphics to 3D multi-user virtual reality environments happening in real time with human interaction possible, visualizations let us fly around the organized data, comprehend, and make decisions (Chen, 2010, 2011). Structural modeling of the relationships may involve the use of graphs, trees, or cones; detecting proximity and connectivity; clustering and classification using word search; multi-dimensional-scaling; network analysis; glyphs (single graphical units portraying many variables by adapting their properties) on charts and graphs; virtual structures; applying complex network theory, and network representations (Chen, 2010).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Data Visualization: Information abstracted in a schematic form to provide visual insights into sets of data. Data visualization enables us to go from the abstract numbers in a computer program (ones and zeros) to visual interpretation of data. Text visualization means converting textual information into graphic representation, so we can see information without having to read the data, as tables, histograms, pie or bar charts, or Cartesian coordinates.

Scientific Visualization: Presents real, abstract, or model-based objects in a digital way directly from the data. Visualization as storytelling comprises narratives, interactive graphics, explanatory and animated graphics, and multimedia.

Infographics: Tools and techniques involved in graphical representation of data, mostly in journalism, art, and storytelling.

Algorithm: A mathematical sequence of instructions telling how to carry on computation to implement it as a program. Algorithm serves for solving a complex problem by writing a sequence of simpler, unambiguous steps.

Information Visualization: Often characterized as representation plus interaction, means the use of computer-supported, interactive visual representations of abstract data to amplify cognition and derive new insights.

Pattern: The regular order existing in nature or in a manmade design. In nature patterns can be seen as symmetries (e.g., snowflakes) and/or structures having fractal dimension such as spirals, meanders, or surface waves. In computer science, design patterns serve in creating computer programs. In the arts, pattern is an artistic or decorative design made of recurring lines or any repeated elements. We can see patterns everywhere in nature, mathematics, art, architecture, and design. Patterns make a basis of ornaments, which are specific for different cultures.

Knowledge Visualization: Uses visual representations to transfer insights and create new knowledge in the process of communicating different visual formats.

Concept Map: A graphical two-dimensional display of knowledge. Concepts, usually presented within boxes or circles, are connected by directed arcs that encode, as linking phrases, the relationships between the pairs of concepts.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: