We’re engulfed by massive amounts of information everywhere we turn: the Web, email, digital media, etc. As a result, being able to organize and present information is increasingly important -especially within products that enable people to manipulate and make sense of large amounts of information. It should come as no surprise, then, that for such applications many interface design problems are actually information design problems.
Effective information visualizations can tap into our ability to make sense of what we see:
“… leveraging the human visual cortex with interactive visualization will be many times more powerful than using artificial intelligence, agents, or simple schemes such as "page rank" to pre-digest large data sets and return a few suggested hits. Technologies that enhance, exploit, or leverage existing and powerful human capabilities are often overlooked in favor of those that promise that machines will do the ‘heavy lifting’ and provide us with an ‘answer.’” - Jim Leftwich
For these reasons and more, I’ve been tracking the output of several information design resources. I recommend any interface designers working on products that enable information creation, organization, manipulation, reporting, or monitoring tune in to at least one of these.
- Information Aesthetics: Form Follows Data -“this weblog explores the symbiotic relationship between creative design and the field of information visualization, in an emergent multidisciplinary field what could be coined as 'creative information visualization'.”
- InfoVis -“InfoVis.net is a project devoted to Information Visualisation, seen as the process of incorporation of knowledge through the perception of information, mainly (but not only) in visual form.”
- Future Feeder -“Future Feeder collects articles and projects vaguely related to the future of technology, design and architecture.” Including lots of information visualization.
- Cartography -“For anyone interested in all things cartographic.”
Why Cartography? “Because maps are used for a wide range of tasks, their design varies considerably... the process of map-making involves the judicial selection of pertinent information.” -Colleen Bushell, Design Requirements for Hypermedia
On a related note, The Places & Spaces exhibition demonstrates the power of maps to understand, navigate, and manage not only physical places, but also abstract information spaces.