What ideas, themes, questions emerged from our April 4 salon on visualization? Here are some of our observations:
i) As technology affords scientists greater amounts of data (genetics, cosmology, etc.), visualization and design have become increasingly important as a tool for understanding and for communicating within the initial discipline, between disciplines (as science become more and more cross-disciplinary) and to the general public.
ii) Because successful synthesis and visualization is in many cases about what's not seen (what we intentionally omit in the pursuit of simplicity and clarity), it presupposes and/or necessitates a level of trust/credibility with the intended audience. Can what something looks like immediately convey that sense of authority/credibility? What does trust-inspiring design look like?
iii) Following Jason's presentation we argued that in blogs, the use of the hyperlink speaks to the presence of information that's not "really" there but is signalled to the audience as being available to them. And more sources = better end product. Could telling people what's "not there" -- what has been excluded -- increase the credibility of the visualization?
iv) The idea of Presence in the data world is more complex than the Second Life paradigm. Marianne suggested that we have a data body that is born with our physical body, an array of social security and other numbers that has a life, and risks, of its own.
v) A momentous statement from quantum physics and from Keith's presentation is that simply observing a system actually changes it.