Visualizations

Finding ways to communicate information from experts to non-experts has been a central concern of technical communication. Textbooks provide quite a bit in terms of suggestions and practices, including using comparison and metaphor, defining terms in accessible ways, and using concrete and recognizable examples to accompanying abstract principles. Yet these suggestions are primarily focused on the written word.

While these textbooks acknowledge the value of images, little has been written about the specific practices related to visualizations and the use of new technology as means to convey complex content. In this in-class assignment, your task is to develop, by way of analyzing a series of samples, some key practices that can be adopted when using visualizations to convey complex scientific ideas to a non-expert audience.

To perform this task you will analyze the samples available in the following page, specifically those listed under “interactives.”

NOTE: You do not need to analyze the “Skin and Bones,” “Where Do College Graduates Work,” “A Year in the Life of Earth’s CO2,” and “Revolutionizing Life-Science Learning” documents.

http://www.popsci.com/your-turn-vote-now-to-pick-best-science-visualizations-year

From this analysis, you should either:

1) identify 1 sample that demonstrates effective practices when it comes to communicating information to a lay audience and describe how this version effectively uses these practices

2) identify a series of practices from a combination of the samples and discuss how these samples demonstrates an effective use of these practices To perform the analysis, place yourself in the position of the lay audience and determine the extent to which the document advances your understanding. Then describe the practices that allow for you to understand the content.

There is little doubt that visualizations contribute significantly to the understandability of a certain subject, and it is something authors seek to exploit as much as possible.  This is of more significance when communicating something to a lay audience that may to understand the jargon or information being relayed by a professional.

From the Popsi.com website, one visualization that succeeds in communicating information, even to a lay audience is the Latin Squared square. The points even the least of informed of persons to a Sudoku. It showcases Lego bricks that are colorfully put together in such artistic jest. A squared square is essentially a large square with other smaller squares in it. These colors would aid an individual understand the aspect of playing a Sudoku where numbers are meant to be arranged in a particular pattern. Visualizations are also associated with long term remembrance.

Froma square of legos the Latin Squared Square, one evident pattern is that each cell is made up of a unique color, pointing to the numerical uniqueness of every digit in a Sudoku. Additionally, there are rows and columns, with each row containing a color exactly once. With such visualization, a lay audience that has never come across a Sudoku password gets to understand the parameters of filling one correctly. This form of communication is especially significant considering the effectiveness of visualizations and colors and their contribution to prolonged memory. Visual communication is a powerful mode of communication that promotes comprehension, as compared to words and audio. Therefore, the Latin Squared Square exemplifies an example of a visualization that not only represents a certain object (Sudoku), but also helps lay audiences understand the way the object is filled…

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