People often talk about visualizations having no value, but it is times like this when i want to balk. What does it mean that people want to play with data? What does it mean to support play instead of pure information access? Of course, this is part of the argument that Jeff and i made in our Vizster paper for InfoVis. Martin just confirmed it and took it to the next level. Well, actually bloggers took it to the next level and made data visible to Martin.
The work-centered mentality of HCI kills me… it’s always about the task, about productivity, about goals. Whenever i balk at activity theory mentality and talk about play, people tell me that play is a productive task with goals. Gah! No it is not! Play is about exploration, curiosity, fun, alternate realities, culture, identity… What if we make visualization about play?
Recently, i’ve also become completely addicted to the Information Aesthetics blog – post after post of beautiful data visualization. I realize that i want to play with those systems, even when i don’t care about the data.
And what about when we learn to play through visualization? Martin talked about Thinking Machine 4 which visualizes how the computer is thinking about chess. I actually don’t know how to play chess but i sat and played with that applet for quite some time before i realized i should be doing other things. Could that system teach me strategy, teach me to play by letting me see the game from a different dimension?
::sigh:: Whenever i see Martin’s work or the work of Fernanda Viegas, i long to be making visualizations again. There’s nothing more magical than watching data take flight and they make it look so elegant and beautiful. If only it didn’t involve programming…