Jeff Heer of Stanford University and Ben Shneiderman of the University of Maryland have co-authored a wonderful new paper titled “Interactive Dynamics for Visual Analysis.” With so much emphasis today on the visualizations themselves, Jeff and Ben are encouraging us to also attend to the interactions with those visualizations that are required for effective analysis. Data exploration and sensemaking (a.k.a., exploratory data analysis) requires constant and fluid movement from one view to the next, rapidly changing how we’re viewing the data to pursue each new question that arises. Interactions are required to alter the view, and it’s important that those interactions be quick and easy, otherwise our minds will be distracted from the flow of analysis.
In this paper, a taxonomy of 12 interactions, organized into three categories, is proposed:
Jeff and Ben are two of the smartest, most articulate, and most productive researchers in the field of information visualization. This paper is well worth your time. Read it and then consider how well the data analysis tools that you currently use support these interactions.