Information Visualization: Professor Isabel Meirelles

Information Visualization

Speaker: Professor Isabel Meirelles
February 14, 2014

Professor Isabel Meirelles was our speaker today and her field is Information Visualization. Professor Meirelles is an information designer and associate professor of graphic design at Northeastern University, Boston

Information graphics (info-graphics) communicate information by revealing patterns or relationships not easily deduced without the aid of visual presentations. Image types include charts, graphs, maps, schematic drawings, statistical graphics.

There are five aids to visualization:

  • External aids enhance our cognitive abilities
  • Context is key to understanding
  • There is not a single answer to a given problem
  • Solving a problem requires finding the right representation
  • The dimensions of intuitive and deliberate thoughts and processes

The real power comes from devising external aids that enhance cognitive abilities. Cognitive principles convey meaning, increase working memory and facilitates search and discovery.

Professor Meirelles showed us many examples of visualization at work. A map of Europe showed the languages spoken by using a colour legend. This one set of specific information gave us a visual key to the borders of the countries.

A visual presentation of information is not enough by itself. There are skills to learn to identify, design and organize the information for the desired outcome. There are also skills needed to interpret this information. In Professor Meirelles words “ The master chess player does not see the same board as the novice”.

We can learn more about visualization techniques and presentation in Professor Meirelles book Design for Information: An introduction to the histories, theories, and best practices behind effective information visualizations (Rockport, 2013).

LinkedIn Page: Professor Isabel Meirelles