VAST Challenge 2013

IEEE’s VisWeek Conference, the premier international conference on visualization, includes a sub-conference on Visual Analytics Science and Technology (VAST). VAST focuses on fundamental research contributions within visual analytics as well as applications of visual analytics, including applications in science, engineering, medicine, health, media, business, social interaction, and security and investigative analysis. One of the highlights of VAST is the annual challenge that invites researchers and other experts in the field to design visualization systems to solve a particular real-world analytics problem. This year’s challenge consists of three separate mini-challenges. I think that readers of this blog might find Mini-Challenge #2 particularly interesting. Here’s how the folks who run VAST describe it:

Mini-Challenge #2 tests your skills in visual design. The fictitious Big Enterprise is searching for a design for their future situation awareness display. The company’s intrepid network operations team will use this display to understand the health, security, and performance of their entire computer network. This challenge is also very different from previous VAST Challenges, because there is no data to process and no questions to answer. Instead, the challenge is to show off your design talents by producing a creative new design for situation awareness.

Much of my work focuses on the design of situation awareness displays, called dashboards. It is particularly challenging to display a great deal of information in a way that people can use to rapidly monitor what’s going on. If you’re involved in designing displays of this type, you might want to participate in this VAST challenge. You will not only have an opportunity to get feedback from some of the world’s top experts (including myself), but could also contribute to this important field of research by demonstrating design skills that are desperately needed but seldom demonstrated.

For more information about VAST Mini-Challenge #2, visit the conference website, where you can also register if you choose to participate.

Take care,

2 Comments on “VAST Challenge 2013”

By Michael Thompson. April 4th, 2013 at 7:39 pm

What’s interesting and also quite ironic about this challenge is that it creates the same scenario that many of us professionals face in the real world. We are given a brief with no initial sample data. Then, when we want to know and understand the business question that the client wants answered, we hit a wall. Underlying this exercise: a vague desire for ‘something’ (emphasis on something) fresh, big and bold. Full stop.

If I were managing the people in my enterprise asking a respectable, professional and dedicated designer to submit a bid for this brief, I would give those people a swift kick in the ass. They would be wasting my company’s money, resources, and focus. As a designer who has his clients’ best interests in mind, I would say, under these restrictions: pass.

By Jordan Goldmeier. April 5th, 2013 at 8:31 am

This competition sounds fun and interesting – I might attempt to put a team together at my company to submit an entry. That said, I’m uneasy about their “bigger is better” solution, which seems like a hat-tip to big data. The best solutions aren’t necessarily a function of size.