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Assignment 1

The use of visualization is pervasive in the media: explanatory diagrams in magazines, graphs describing the projected impact of a new state budget, new experimental data plotted against theoretical expectations, etc. In each case, the author of the visualization tries to convey a point of view by emphasizing some aspects of the data while toning down other aspects. The result can vary widely, from informative to misleading.

For this assignment, pick out two examples, one good and one bad visualization, from any of the following sources:

No information visualization text or paper may be used. Go to original sources used by practitioners and researchers.

The following domains may be used:

Once you have selected a good and a bad example, make a web page. Include in your web page both pictures, and two paragraphs for each picture. The first paragraph should tell the story behind the picture: what does this picture show? The second paragraph should critique the visualization, explaining why you think it is good or bad. Be specific, and include criteria such as accessibility, clarity, accuracy, or any other criterion about the design of the visualization that you feel is important. Make your web page publically accessible, and be prepared to show your web page and briefly present your findings in class. You'll have less than five minutes, the best way to be concise is to run through what you want to say beforehand as practice.

If you do not already have a personal web site, see the webpage setup section of the CS Dept FAQ for how to set one up in the CS domain.

Send me ( the URL of your page by 10am Wednesday Sep 14.

Credit: assignment inspired by Pat Hanrahan's assignment 1.

Examples: previous submissions from Fall 04, Spring 04.

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Tamara Munzner
Last modified: Wed Sep 21 11:13:27 PDT 2005