Reading and Discussion 1: Week 1 – What is Visualization

by gleicherapi on August 1, 2017

Initial Posting Due: Thu, Sep 07 at (Canvas Link)


This week there is a fairly large amount of readings – because we don’t have much else going on. The reading isn’t as bad as it looks because it’s all fairly light.

The main goal here is to give you a sense of what visualization is. I want you to get some different perspectives, so you can form your own.

Most of these are from textbooks (see the Books page). A goal is to introduce you to the people you’ll be learning from this semester (including me!).

  1. The Course Web Page – make sure you understand the class policies and procedures, and have read the “How to Vis” post. There will be some redundancy with lecture, but this is stuff I really want you to know.
  2. What we talk about when we talk about visualization (Chapter 1 of The Truthful Art) (theTruthfulArtCh1.pdf 5.7 mb) This will be your first exposure to Alberto Cairo’s books (see my discussion from the Spring). A great place to start the class.
  3. Preface (from Munzner’s Visualization Analysis & Design)(Munzner-00-FrontMatter.pdf 256 kb) – yes, I want you to read the Preface of the textbook. It will give you a sense of what’s coming.
  4. What’s Vis (Chapter 1 from Munzner’s Visualization Analysis & Design) (Munzner-01-Intro.pdf 308 kb)
  5. Graphical Excellence (Chapter 1 of Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information) (1-VDQI-1-GraphicalExcellence.pdf 33.8 mb)
  6. Two Blog Postings by Robert Kosara: What is Visualization? A Definition and The Many Names of Visualization – read these to get a viewpoint different than mine.

Online Discussion

Initial Posting Due: Thu, Sep 07 at (Canvas Link)

Each week’s discussion (which is not to be confused with the weekly Seek and Find) will have two main parts: 1-2 required postings, and discussion.

Online discussions (and all handins) are handled with the Course’s Canvas. To make the discussions more manageable, the class is broken into smaller groups. If something goes wrong and you aren’t part of a group or Canvas won’t let you post to a discussion, contact the instructor and we can try to fix it. Also, note that you cannot see other’s postings until you have made one yourself.

For this week’s two required postings:

  1. Please make a posting saying what your interest in visualization is (why are you taking this class?). There is no right or wrong answers (I am hoping that you have a better reason than “It’s a class at a convenient time”, but we aren’t going to judge your answers). It’s just a conversation starter, and a chance to make sure that Canvas is working.

  2. From the readings (including the class web – be sure you’ve read the “How to Visualize” posting), you should have gotten a few different definitions of what visualization is – including mine. You’ll also get a sense of what is in the textbook (Munzner’s preface has a summary) and the plan for the class. And hopefully you have a sense of my “4 step process” for visualization and the “4 components of visualization.” For your posting, talk about how these things (definitions of visualization, topics from the book and class, my process) fit with your interests. What are you most eager to learn more about?

You are required to discuss as part of these discussions. In the past I always gave a minimum number of postings in response to others (3), but rather than being quantitative, I’d prefer that people just do “enough.” The discussion aspect is a key part of the learning process.

Admittedly, for this assignment, there isn’t too much to discuss. But hopefully you can find things to talk about. In future weeks, the discussion topics will be better chosen to help reinforce class concepts.

This week’s assignment has an additional piece: you must set up your Canvas Profile. This will facilitate discussions in the future.

  1. On the upper right of the Canvas screen click on your name – this gets to your overall stuff.
  2. Under “settings” (on the left side) – set your “Display Name” to “FirstName LastName” (so for me it’s “Mike Gleicher”). This way, when people see you in a discussion, it’ll look better.
  3. Please leave “Sortable Name” as LastName,Firstname
  4. Under “Profile” – edit your profile. A picture is really helpful. A short bio – what department you are in, … can help people know who they are talking to. If you have a personal home page, it’s nice to add a link to that as well.

Setting your profile up is required – you won’t get points for doing the assignment unless you do it.

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