Structured Surfaces

Structured Surface

In this project, we propose to extend the usefulness of a structured surface for information visualization, by creating user-generated structured surfaces that can be controlled in an interactive manner.

By a structured surface, we mean a cognitive artifact that provides a layer of meaning that supports the data imposed upon it. People are familiar with several conventions for structured surfaces, such as maps, timelines, radar plots, and targets. It is also possible to recognize the Cartesian co-ordinate system as a generic structured surface, which generalizes nicely because it allows the designer to specify the meaning of the axes. We can, however, extend this thinking even further, into diagrams where an additional cognitive layer is introduced underneath a given data display, in order to help the user to mentally structure the information. For example, take a Word Cloud, where the size of the words is a rough indication of frequency. Typically, the words are placed in such a manner as to provide a compact display, with no intention to convey meaning. However, by placing a structured surface underneath the Word Cloud, it is possible to add further information. Grouping the words dynamically is an alternative approach, but does not allow for comparison between different data sets against the same background system of organization.