Z: Why vis?

Project: Why visualize?

Project goals

image/svg+xml data imagery information knowledge Destination with geometric & optical information imagery information imagery information Enriching & Filtering Visual Mapping Rendering Displaying Optical Transmission Viewing Perception Cognition Source Human-computer Interaction Human-human Interaction shared information mental images information & knowledge imagery information with semantic information instructional information
InfoVis model adapted from Chen
and Floridi (Chen2013, fig. 1).

With the "Why visualize?" project we lay ground for future advances in the theory of (information) visualization. The main contribution of this project is the presentation of arguments for why visualization works with their relations. These arguments are commonly put forward as arguments for why the visualization of data can provide a benefit compared to, for example, textual representations.

How to read the arguments

All arguments are stated in general language. This does not mean that they apply to all visualizations, but enhances readability. If an argument applies, or if it does not, depends on each specific visualization and may give reasons for why this visualization can aid in solving a specific task. Which arguments are important usually depends on the task in question, often also the data to be inspected as well as the user are relevant.

Argumentative standpoints

We categorize arguments according to different schemes. One categorization is by argumentative standpoints. In total we suggest 6 standpoints, including Basic, Semiotics, Design, Interplay, Cognition, Teamwork

Information pathways

Another categorization is based on information flow. Here, we look at which flow of information through common InfoVis models—see figure of the model proposed by Chen and Floridi—arguments are focused on. You may click on the wide numbered arrows in the figure for details.

Get in touch

This website is part of a research project pursued by Dirk Streeb, Mennatallah El-Assady, Daniel A. Keim, and Min Chen at the Univerisity of Konstanz and the University of Oxford.

If you have any questions or suggestions, found and error, or would like to contribute to the argument netwrok, please send us an email to streeb at dbvis dot inf.uni-konstanz.de. In case you want to analyze the argument collection by yourself, please find the csv downloads at the bottom end of this page.


This project is organized by Dirk Streeb, Mennatallah El-Assady, Daniel A. Keim, Min Chen.

Last updated 1 year, 9 months ago (April 17, 2019) by Streeb, Dirk

Recent changes

Current status

Publications 192 bibtex
Nodes 119 csv, tex
Links 193 csv
Network json
Codings 113
Coded publications 109 csv
Node mentions 949 csv
Link mentions 49 csv
Type Count Download

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