Reading/Assignment/Discussion 14: Presentations and Videos

by Mike Gleicher on April 16, 2017

Initial Posting (requires a little reading): Due Monday, April 24th
Additional Postings and Discussion: A total of 4 required postings, plus I think this will lead to lots of conversation. We’ll leave the discussion open through the end of the semester (but we will probably grade around May 5).
Discussion on Cavnas: HERE

This week, is actually a mix of 3 different topics that are not directly connected to what’s going on in class. They all interconnect in a way that might make sense afterwards.

  1. Presentations – as part of grad class, I always want to help people develop presentation skills since they will be important no matter what you do.
  2. Video presentations – making a good video to convey your idea is a different medium, but one that is useful. And surprisingly hard to do well.
  3. Animation – using animation in visualization is a valuable thing, and brings up lots of questions in terms of design, perception, and implementation.
  4. Virtual Guest Lectures – since I’m not around to lecture to you, it’s a chance to let a famous person teach you about vis.

There’s limited reading this week. But you need to do the following things (preferably in this order):

  1. Read my rant about presentations (this is from an older class – you won’t get to hear me do this in person). See the details below. But after reading this, I’d like you to make a posting about how it applies to you (details below).
  2. As a positive example of presentation… Watch a video by Hans Rosling. Dr. Rosling died this past year, but he left a big mark on many fields. I’ll ask you to comment on it.
  3. Watch a video about animations in vis. This is both to get some of the ideas, as well as to see how the ideas are presented in video form. (it’s a research presentation)
  4. Watch a “virtual guest lecture” – you just have to watch one, and tell others what you saw (in case they saw the other one).

This means 4 required postings (which is a lot), but there isn’t so much reading (other than my course web post). And there’s a lot to converse about. All in the same Canvas Thread.

Part 1: Presentations

Normally, I’d give a lecture on presentations. Instead, you get to read through my notes (since we’re running out of lecture times, and the classroom is bad for lectures). Before reading my notes, here are some caveats (note: this is taken from the 2012 class):

  • The goals and standard for presentation really vary across venue/discipline. What we value in computer science (in particular the areas I work in) are quite different than in other disciplines. It’s hard for me to discuss this without value judgement (since I am bred to believe in the “CS way”), but I also plead ignorance to the practices in other area. I’d like to use this as a chance to learn about others.
  • I don’t consider myself to be a great presenter. Do as I say, not as I do. The upside of this, is that it means I think about how to be better at it.
  • A lecture is not the same as a talk, so what you see in class is quite different than what you would see in one of my talks.
  • Even within a particular style/venue/type of talk, there is a wide range of opinions on what is good talk, what the goals should be, …
  • The “right answer” depends not only on the situation, but on the person. But that will be one of the biggest lessons I hope you get. I may not speak to your specific case, but hopefully, you can see how the general lessons apply.
  • As you might guess, I have strong opinions. But you don’t have to guess at what they are, since I’ve written them down.

Given that…

My real goal is to get you to think about what might make for a good presentation, and to form your own strong opinions – even if they are different than mine.

Given that, read my posting about presentations. Yes, it’s from a 2011 class – but I think if I were updating it, it wouldn’t be much different.

For a requited posting: Comment on how this relates to you. If you’re outside of CS, how do the standards of your field differ? If you’re within CS, how does this relate to talks you’ve seen or other advice you’ve been given.

For what it is worth: I am preparing a conference keynote talk (which is why I’ll be missing class), and I am re-reading those notes in preparing.

Part 2: Video Presentations

Hans Rosling is a famous presenter – talking about social issues around the world in venues like TED, etc. He was famous for presenting data in a compelling way to make his points for a broad audience. Sadly, he died this year. But his influence is significant (both on presentating data and on the world in general).

If you haven’t seen a Rosling talk, you need to experience one. If you have seen one, you probably won’t mind watching another.

There are lots of videos of rosling presentations – here’s one I have handy, or here’s another one.

The actual point of Rosling is not his visualizations (he does use standard visualization effectively – often with animation), but rather as a way to talk about presentations.

For a required posting: Say which video you watched (give a link, especially if it’s not one of the two I gave). Say why you think he’s good (or not), but also comment on why he is often used as an example for presentation style. What can you learn from him (positive or negative)?

Part 3: Research Videos and Animation

I’ll kill two birds with one stone here: I want you to think about the role of animations in visualization, and how to present research results in video form. So, I’ll have you watch a research video about animation in visualization!

You don’t have to read the paper, but you do have to watch the video:

  • Heer, Jeffrey, and George Robertson. “Animated Transitions in Statistical Data Graphics.” IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 13, no. 6 (January 2007): 1240–47. doi:10.1109/TVCG.2007.70539.

Some of the ideas in the video have been questioned in perceptual studies, but I think the basic concepts are still worthwhile.

For a required posting: why is this a good presentation of the ideas (or not)? You can comment on the ideas, but we are curious what you think of how the ideas are presented.

If you want to know what I did as a graduate student, here is a circa 1992 video that I wrote in graduate school. On YouTube. Yes, that is a 25 year old me you’re listening to. And yes, I did it with a 1991 computer, video recorders, and limited ability to edit. Today you should make better videos since you have better technology.

Part 4: The Virtual Guest Lecture

At the end of the semester, I like to give a summary lecture. This semester, we may run out of time (too much more content to cover!). So, I thought I’d let some more famous person give you a lecture. In the past, I’ve used these videos when I was out of town (people like them)

There are two. You can pick either. Or you can watch both.

Both talks are Capstone talks. They are invited talks at the end of the conference – not regular paper talks. Both are also recorded in an odd way: you get the audio and the slides. This is not ideal. To be honest, listening to the talk and seeing the slides is a poor substitute for the actual talk. There is something about a live event too. So, please bear with the production values. It is better than nothing (I believe).

The two options are:

  1. Jarke van Wijk. VIS 2013: Capstone: Information Visualization: Challenges and Opportunities.
    We’ve actually seen a bunch of his work. I was at this talk.
  2. John Stasko. EuroVis 2014: Capstone: The Value of Visualization…and Why Interaction Matters.
    Ironically, John is talking about van Wijk’s old work (the value of visualization paper). Further irony, John is the one introducing van Wijk in the first talk.

The format of the “video” (slides + audio) makes for a different experience than seeing the talk in person. I’d like to separate the content of the talks from the delivery mechanism,. If you want to comment on the format, that’s OK – but try to separate it from discussions of the content. Trust me that, in person, they are both good speakers (with very different styles)

Required posting: since half of the class (roughly) didn’t see the talk you saw, give a brief summary of it, focusing on what you got out of it. So write “these are the main things you would have learned had you seen the talk” (which is more or less the same as “these are the main things I learned”).

If you want some food for thought: In both cases, these are senior people who have made many contributions to the visualization community. What can you see about their perspectives? What questions do the talks raise in your mind?


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