Constructive Visualization


DIS Paper 2014
et al.: Samuel Huron, Sheelagh Carpendale, Anthony Tang, & Michael Maurer

Visualizations are becoming a more and more widespread communication medium. Thus visualization literacy — being able to read and create visualizations — is becoming an important skill. In this project we explore how non-experts can be empowered to create visualizations that allow them to engage directly with datasets.

We propose constructive visualization, a new paradigm for the simple creation of expressive and dynamic visualizations. Visualuzations are constructed by assembling simple digital or physical building blocks. This approach builds on our inherent understanding and experience with physical building blocks that we know from kindergarten play. It enables non-experts to create entirely novel visualizations and to engage with datasets in an exploratory manner. Constructive visualization is simple — in that no prior skills are required to build and manipulate the visualizations; it is expressive– in that one can build a variety of diverse visualizations, and it also supports data dynamics — in that these constructed visualizations can be rebuilt and adjusted when the data changes.

In the paper about this project, we describe the conceptual components and processes underlying constructive visualization, and present real-world examples to illustrate the utility of this approach.