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Balancing form & function within the field of datavisualization
Michelle Oosthuyzen 3611205 November 2011
University Utrecht MA New Media and Digital Culture
Get Real! Image, Visualization, Technology Theme: Datavisualization
Using vision to think with is not something new; people have acknowledged the expressive potential of visualization techniques since the 19 century. The upcoming popularity of the visualization of data and the spill of this technique from the domain of experts to the domain of amateurs is something we have never seen before. Creating knowledge and thoughtful insights by means of effective visual metaphors as a solution for the current overload of abstract data that is present within our society is something we should embrace. But is this really the case? This paper is written to identify the broad field of datavisualization and it’s unique characteristics and work towards a better understanding of aesthetics as a technical design choice that draws upon visual cognition and perception research to complement visualization techniques and their function in visually conveying knowledge to an audience. I would like to take this paper beyond the subjective debate of science versus art supported by one-sided arguments and see in what way they can complement each other within the field of datavisualization. First I will look at the current debate and analyse the existing tensions between form and function and discuss in what way visualization techniques can contribute to the attractiveness and understanding of large amounts of data. Finally I want to conclude if and how the democratizing of datavisualization can be considered a desirable development by exploring how online visualization tools like Many Eyes are implementing form and function in their design.
Keywords: datavisualization, visual design, aesthetics, online visualization tool (Many Eyes), visual
Introduction: the debate
1. Exploring the tension between form and function…………………………………………..p. 4
2. Aesthetics: awakening the senses……………………………………………………………p. 6
3. Facilitating insight and pattern perception…………………………………………………...p. 8 4. Balancing with extremes……………………………………………………………………….p. 8
5.Usability versus complexity……………………………………………………………….……p. 10
Introduction: the debate
‘A picture says more than a thousand words’
This famous quote from Napoleon Bonaparte refers to the ongoing and unsubtle debate between the verbal culture on the one hand and the image culture on the other hand, which underlies many current debates around the upcoming visual culture (Pauwels 2008, 81). This debate is characterized by highly subjective and one-sided arguments that ignore the hybrid nature of new media. Where did this all start? It was Jonathan Crary who in his book Techniques of the Observer (1993) predicted a new visual culture accompanying the advent of new media. The increasing popularity of visual media techniques such as datavisualization, the translation of data into easily understandable and accessible graphical representations, is an example of this new visual culture. This popularity not only refers to the amount of datavisualizations currently circulating the web, but also the broadened appeal of using visuals as an object to think with within the society as a whole. Visualization techniques not only attract scientists, analysts and statisticians but also art designers and other artists. However, datavisualization is not only made available for these professionals but also any other curious mind with a computer as a result of the many online user-friendly interfaces that make possible the mapping of large amounts of data into visuals and the sharing of those visualizations with a large online audience. In other words, we have not only been increasingly exposed to these datavisualizations, but are now also able to create them ourselves. Moreover, the transparency around data contributed and made possible the widespread use and popularity of datavisualization. Datasets that first were confidential are now made available for anyone on the Internet. A good example was the launch of UNdata in 2007; an online data access system to UN databases. The availability of these online databases and visualization tools created the right atmosphere for the increasing popularity and use of datavisualization. But how has this increasing popularity been received? Cyber optimists perceive visual media as the solution for contemporary (technological) challenges like information overload, when large amounts of data are becoming freely available and can now be processed and communicated to a large audience with the help of visualization techniques. Visualization researchers Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg believe that datavisualizations contribute to a more informed society and will ultimately lead to the further democratization of our society when more and more people are able and encouraged to create their own datavisualization(Viégas et al. 2007). With this goal in mind, Viégas and Wattenberg created the online tool Many Eyes in 2005 that enables users to not only upload and visualize (their own) data, but to also share their creations and creating ongoing discussions about it. Online visualization tools similar to Many Eyes are popping up all over the web and cause cyber critics to take a critical stance towards the upcoming democratization of the field. Luc Pauwels, writer of Visual Literacy and Visual Culture: Reflections on Developing More Varied and Explicit Visual Competencies makes an important point here: ‘Increased consumption and further democratization of visual technology does not necessarily lead to greater visual literacy’ (Pauwels 2008, 80). Manuel Lima criticizes the democratization of datavisualization along the same line as Pauwels and created
critical requirements and considerations concerning the field of datavisualizations in the form of an Information Visualization Manifesto. He concludes with the following: ‘To the growing amounts of publicly available data, Information Visualization needs to respond as a cognitive filter, an empowered lens of insight, and should never add more noise to the flow. Don’t assume any visualization is a positive step forward. In the context of Information Visualization, simply conveying data in a visual form, without shedding light on the portrayed subject, or even worst, making it more complex, can only be considered a failure’ (Lima 2009)
This pretty much sums up the essence of criticism, which revolves around what software designer, and media theorist Warren Sack calls the anti-sublime, i.e. the attempt of these user-friendly tools to pretty things up or to make data easier to understand (Sack 2007, 2). According to cyber critic Robert Kosara, ‘there is a place for art, and there is a place for visualization. ‘Mixing the two is difficult and dangerous, and often leads to things that are neither’ (Kosara 2010). Kosara warns about a technologic deterministic view and introduces the concept of the Cargo Cult to make his point. Cargo Cult is a cult that imitates behaviour in an attempt to get ahead which Kosara then reflects to the current optimistic behaviour towards technological development within our society. Kosara is particularly critical towards the broad use of techniques without understanding their application or usefulness within a certain field: ‘Just because they were successfully applied in one area does not mean they will also work in another’ (Kosara 2010). While this is true, we should also be aware of how aesthetics can work within certain fields. The aim of this paper is not only understanding the value of aesthetics within the field of datavisualization but also examining the way current online tools are implementing this value in their visualization techniques. This results in the following research question:
How can form and function complement each other within the field of datavisualization and is the current democratizing of datavisualization leading to new insights regarding a healthy balance?
I will study the online visualization tool Many Eyes as case because they explicitly state their democratizing goals. I am however researching their aim for ‘instant usability’ and enabling end-user creation and will not focus on their intention to incite discussion and / or a social style of data analysis (Viégas et al. 2007, 1121).
1. Exploring the tension between form and function
The problem lies in the fact that datavisualization isn’t a clearly defined field. This results in a number of challenges. First of all, the field is made up out of two extreme domains being art and science and it’s obviously hard to find a balance when working with extremes. While the latter is predominantly concerned with the function and effectiveness of the visualization and thereby neglecting the possible
Technological determinism: ‘The dominant account of technology in everyday or common sense culture’ (Lister et al. 2009, 429)
contribution of aesthetics to this function, the former often has the tendency to neglect functionality in its visualization design which leaves the visualization without an argument to convey or a story to tell. Second, there are no clear standards for a ‘good’ visualization and anyone without any experience or knowledge can produce datavisualizations by using one of the many free online visualization tools like Many Eyes. The essence of these challenges seems to come down to the tension between form and function which is effectively described by Kosara: ‘We criticize flashy infographics and bad visualizations, but we also want to attract viewer's attention. We strive for accuracy and efficiency, but we also want to tell stories. We dislike chart junk, but we like beautiful charts’ (Kosara 2011)
Instead of blurring the boundaries, Kosara believes that we need to make a clear distinction between art and sciences within the field of datavisualization or, put in his words ‘it will be too late’ (Kosara, 2010). Kosara therefore distinguishes two kinds of visualizations: pragmatic visualization and artistic visualization, which he describes as follows: • ‘Pragmatic visualization: The type of visualization that is done by people in computer science and whose goal it is to create images from data in order to provide insight. This is useful, or utilitarian. • Artistic visualization, or data art: This is work done by artists, who do not care about insight but rather want to raise an issue or want to make you think. If this work is useful, that's an unintended side effect. The point is to make something interesting and/or beautiful.’ (Kosara 2010b)
Kosara characterizes an artistic visualization as not recognizable as visualization and not readable (Kosara 2007, 2). The visualization of poetry like the one shown in figure 3 could likely be an example of an artistic visualization according to Kosara. Lima makes a similar distinction between information visualization and information art (Lima 2009). Cyber critics like Kosara and Lima follow the critical line of thought of Ben Shneiderman, founding director of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, who stated in 1999 that ‘the purpose of visualization is insight, not pictures’ (Shneiderman et al. 1999, 6). This critical distinction between visualizations as art and visualizations as information can be considered helpful while it aims at identifying the broad field of datavisualization and exploring it’s unique characteristics. Secondly it helps create an understanding of what ‘good’ and ‘bad’ visualizations are in relation to the context, audience and purpose for which the visualization is created. On the other hand, focussing on clear-cut boundaries can ignore the possibilities that arise from the diversity of the field and deny the existence of datavisualizations that incorporate both ends of the spectrum i.e. that are both beautiful and informative at the same time. Furthermore there needs to be room to explore the boundary between art and science within the field of datavisualization in order for us to learn how these two domains can compliment each other. This means understanding aesthetics as a technical design choice but also
understanding how graphic design can be enriched by science. In this part of the paper I will further elaborate on these thoughts.
Figure 3. Visualization of poetry texts
2. Aesthetics: awakening the senses
First of all there needs to be a clear understanding of what aesthetics means. Writing about the influence of aesthetics on the effectiveness and efficiency of datavisualization, Nick Cawthon and Andrew Vande Moere define aesthetics as follows: ‘Aesthetics is a concept that relates to the beauty in both nature and art, as something that enlivens or invigorates both body and mind, awakening the senses’ (Cawthon & Vande Moere 2007, 637). This awakening of the senses is an important function of aesthetics that seems to work both ways when applied to the field of datavisualization: attracting and facilitating. I will start of with the former. Clearly, aesthetics plays a large part in attracting and engaging an audience and simultaneously increasing the popularity of the particular datavisualization. Although interpreting aesthetics in this sense is often dismissed as subjective judgement and a marketing technique, it still is an important part of the technical design of visualizations. The Box Office Revenue Graph that appeared in The New York Times on the 23 of February 2008 which shows movie tickets sales of 7500 movies over a period of 21 years, is a good example. This visualization made use of the so-called stacked graph technique. This technique is used for displaying the change of several variables over a certain period of time and is based on the micro/macro principle; the many individual time series make the bigger picture visible (Byron & Wattenberg 2008, 1248). Instead of using the x-axis as the bottom as shown in figure 1, the streamgraph is a particular category within the staked graph technique that staked the layers in a symmetrical form with the x-axis in the middle as shown in figure 2.
‘Each word corresponded to a numerical code by adding the alphabetical values of its letters together. This number was mapped onto the position on a circle, and marked by a red dot. Gray lines connect the dots in the sequence the words appear in the poem’ Retrieved from http://compsci.ca/blog/data-visualization-programming-an-art-piece/
Figure 1. Stacked graph
Figure 2. Box Office Revenue Graph published in The New York Times the 23rd of February 2008.
When comparing both visualizations, the Box Office Revenue Graph clearly attracts more attention. Furthermore, the online conversation and social interaction that this graph spurred was remarkable and after studying these reactions Byron and Wattenburg came to the following conclusion: ‘Many of the comments on the Box Office Revenue graphic support the idea that the visual appearance of the graph drew people in or kept them looking at the graphic. (…) The relative priorities of aesthetic and utilitarian considerations in visualization clearly depend on context. (…) It
may be worth prioritizing aesthetics to broader the appeal of a graphic’ (Byron & Wattenberg 2008, 1248)
When the aim is to attract a broader audience beyond the domain of the experts, the power of aesthetics to awaken the senses and arouse curiousness can be used to visually stimulate the reader to discover the meaning and knowledge behind data. According to Lau and Vande Moere aesthetics is then used to attract readers that may not have been interested in visualizations in the first place, stimulating personal engagement and leave a long lasting impression (Lau & Vande Moere 2007, 92). While it is likely that the visual appeal of the Box Office Revenue Graph played a major role in the popularity of this datavisualization, cyber critics warn for the over compromising of functionality by aesthetics until datavisualization ‘is primarily about being pretty and colourful and the data representation is only an afterthought’ (Kosara 2010).
3. Facilitating insight and pattern perception
The use of colour, form and structure does not only attract and appeal an audience, but also, it turns out, enhances our ability to understand an argument. Then we arrive to the other function of the awakening of the senses trough aesthetics, being facilitating insight and pattern perception. An effective visualization presents information in not only an appealing but also insightful way. Often, to see a pattern is to understand the solution to a problem and therefore aesthetics can help create insight into data patterns. Within his book Visual Thinking for Design, Colin Ware argues that pattern perception is fundamental in the extraction of meaning through visualization (Ware 2008, 4). Ware comes to this conclusion within his study where he links visualization design and cognitive science, the reaction of the brain to different visual cues like colour, form and space. Visual thinking becomes relevant when we consider Wares idea of the visual system as a ‘pattern-finding engine’ (Ware 2008, 165). ‘We can now begin to develop a science of graphic design based on a scientific understanding of visual attention and pattern perception’ (Ware 2008, 3). Ware provides what he calls ‘lessons for design’ which can channel active vision and stimulate pattern perception, for example: making objects move (Ware 2008, 33), differentiation between objects by colour, texture and shape (Ware 2008, 35), the use of pop-out properties (Ware 2008, 46), mixing 2D design elements with 3D design elements (Ware 2008, 100) and so forth. His research goes beyond the scope of this paper but shows how science and art can complement each other within the field of datavisualization.
4. Balancing with extremes
We have now seen how aesthetics has the power to attract an audience and to facilitate insight into data patterns but can it do both at the same time? The answer is simple: yes it can. But how to get there seems to require a more complex answer. Compromising and balancing is the key. Before considering this, I will first describe the concept of information aesthetics and explore the ability of datavisualizations to reveal the stories behind data. Lau and Vande Moere introduce the concept of information aesthetics as a hybrid between visualization art and information visualization, i.e. form and
function. They present a model that incorporates this concept and focuses on ‘aesthetics as the degree of artistic influence on the mapping technique of a specific visualization, and the aesthetic engagement it affords, as opposed to aesthetics as a measure of subjective appeal’ (Lau & Vande Moere 2007, 93). Aesthetics visualization techniques should provide a balance between facilitating an insight into patterns drawing upon visual cognition research and uncovering underlying meaning and context in which the data should be understood by engaging the reader and stimulating personal reflection (Lau & Vande Moere 2007, 94). The Box Office Revenue streamgraph (Figure 2) is again a good example of how this can be accomplished. This graph shows how subtle difference in the design can change the focus on the data and transmit data in an accessible and visually appealing way. This along with the interactive elements which engages and stimulates the user to explore the data by own means, makes this streamgraph very effective. In other words, a datavisualization should not only facilitate understanding but also the engagement of the user. Stimulating personal involvement and enforcing interpretative engagement ultimately facilitates insight through data patterns. This engagement works through interaction, which according to Lima is ‘an integral part of the field’s DNA’ (Lima 2009) ‘By employing interactive techniques, users are able to properly investigate and reshape the layout in order to find appropriate answers to their questions. Visualization should be recognized as a discovery tool’ (Lima 2009)
There should be a balance between the producers intent and the consumers flexibility in interpretation facilitated through the use of playful interaction within the visualization, which according to Cawthon and Vande Moere ‘brings forth a joy and aesthetic (…) which raises the level of affect and emotion’ (Cawthon & Vande Moere 2007, 644). This level of affect and emotion seem to play an important role within our cognitive capacities: ‘If the user finds a positive affection towards an object, our brains are encouraged to think creatively in order to solve any problem in which the object might present’ (Cawthon & Vande Moere 2007, 644). Cawthon and Vande Moere therefore conclude that aesthetics can have a positive influence on the level of affect and emotion and therefore have the potential to extend the time that users want to spend unravelling the story behind the data (Cawthon & Vande Moere 2007, 644). Looking at a datavisualizations as a way to tell a story is another way of looking at the interplay between the principles of attracting, facilitating and engaging trough form and function. The revealing and unravelling of stories behind data is one of the main affordances of an effective and informative visualisation, according to Edward Segel and Jeffrey Heer (Segel & Heer 2010). While telling stories seems to privilege the verbal culture as opposed to the image culture as discussed the introduction, nothing is less true. Segel and Heer introduce both visual and non-visual techniques for creating effective data stories. Furthermore, similar Cawthon and Vande Moere (2007) Lau, Segel and Heer suggest a healthy balance is required between the more structured narrative provided by the ‘writer’ and the possibility for the ‘reader’ to discover the story with the help of interactive elements (Segel & Heer 2010, 8). Through a combination of visual and non-visual narrative techniques this
balance can be achieved. An example is visual structuring; a visual narrative technique that makes it possible for the reader to orientate within the visualization, like timeline sliders and progress bars. The highlighting technique visually directs the reader to certain elements and within a certain order through the use of colour, size and movement. The story as intended by the author is also communicated in a non-visual way through the use of text; providing comments and information in the form of labels, headings, annotations, descriptions and audio. This non-visual narrative technique is called messaging. Interaction techniques on the other hand, ensure that the reader finds its own path trough the data (Segel & Heer 2010, 7). Segel and Heer argue that the difference between traditional storytelling and data stories lies in the possibility of interaction. ‘While tours through visualized data similarly can be organized in a linear sequence, they can also be interactive, inviting verification, new questions, and alternative explanations’ (Segel & Heer 2010, 1). These non-visual interaction techniques include navigation buttons, time sliders, hover highlighting, filtering, search and zoom options and hover detail on demand which enables the reader to move with the mouse over an element to obtain additional information (Segel & Heer 2010, 7). When talking about finding the right balance between form and function or between author intention and reader interpretation, one has to keep in mind that the right balance does not exist. As previously stated by Byron and Wattenberg, this balance is context dependent. When the goal is to reach a large audience function may be compromised by form as a strategic way to make the datavisualization more appealing. This may on the other hand result in miscomprehension and clutter instead of insight into the data. The same goes for interactivity; it might engage users to spend time exploring the datavisualization, but overshadow the author’s intended story completely. By exploring this balance we can learn about the existing trade-offs and become better judges on how to compromise in different contexts. Ware makes a similar point when arguing that ‘we should make the distinction between situations where the goal is entertainment and situations where the goal is providing information in the most effective possible way’ (Ware 2008, 41). Furthermore considering trade-offs is not only context dependent but also highly dependent on the data that is being used. While categorizing data seems almost impossible due to its immense variety, there has been a lot of research done to match the type of data with the most effective visualization technique (Mackinlay 1986).
5. Usability versus complexity
We have now seen that form and function can coexist within the field of datavisualization by complimenting each other and supporting the interplay between attracting an audience, facilitating insight and engaging the reader. Science can lead to better insight of the function of aesthetics and thus aesthetics can become an important part of the technical design of a datavisualization. However, just because it can, doesn’t mean it will and certainly not that it is easy to accomplish. In this last part of my paper I will focus on the question if visualization techniques are indeed fulfilling their potential within the available online visualization tool Many Eyes.
The democratizing of datavisualization is the main-goal of user-friendly visualization tools such as Many Eyes. It’s ‘instant usability’ and ‘democratic deliberative style of data analysis’ is what differentiates Many Eyes from other datavisualization tools but at the same time result in certain implications that ‘are reflected in design choices that need to strike the delicate balance between powerful data-analysis capabilities and accessibility to the non-expert visualization user’ (Vi gas et al. 2007, 1121). For example, within Many Eyes the user can choose from 21 different ready to use visualization formats that range from the classic bar chart and pie chart to the more experimental bubble chart and tagcloud (see figure 4). This classification of visualization formats accompanied by visualization guides for each graph, makes it easier for end-users to match a certain dataset to a visualization graph. The purposes for each graph are outlined as follows: see relationships among data points, compare a set of values, track rises and falls over time, see the parts of a whole, analyse a text, see the world.
Figure 4. Examples of different visualizations created on Many Eyes. From left to right, top to bottom: treemap, stackgraph, network diagram, pie chart, tag cloud and bubble chart.
These basic visualization formats however do not incorporate a high aesthetic experience like in figure 2. I can conclude that Many Eyes is encouraging usability at the expense of the visualization design. This means that the complexity of the design is compromised by the usability of the tool and function is overruled by form. This is however not a bad decision when regarding the context in which this tool is created. Many Eyes is created for non-experts without any specific knowledge or expertise on programming or designing (Viégas 2007, 1121). Conveying an argument with words is hard; using visual design does not make it easier. On the contrary, designing requires certain complex skills. Colin Ware argues that during the process of designing, the designer must be able to critically analyse which patterns will lead to the right cognitive actions and visual queries provided by the visualization technique as shown in figure 5 (Ware 2008, 68).
4 Retrieved from: www-958.ibm.com/software/data/cognos/manyeyes/page/Visualization_Options.html
Determine visual queries Visual task analysis
Color, form, space to support visual queries
Figure 5. The process of critical seeing according to Colin Ware
Although skilled designers are experienced with this process of what Ware refers to as ‘critical seeing’, it isn’t a skill that anybody can master without any experience. Ware claims that ‘this critical seeing may seem intuitive to the skilled designer, but this intuition is hard-won through years of experience honing critical perception’ (Ware 2008, 64). If the non-expert users of Many Eyes could experiment more with form by creating their own graphs and not only use pre-defined ones, this could easily result in beautiful but uninsightful work or, according to Kosara’s words: neither. This is where his distinction between artistic and pragmatic visualizationm which I mentioned in section 1, makes sense: ‘Not every visualization is necessarily on one of the ends, there's a middle ground there as well. But as it gets more artistic, it loses its utility. And by trying to be more useful, it loses its artistic appeal. (…) They're trying to do both but succeed at neither’ (Kosara 2010 B)
In other words, a datavisualization makes more sense in either being artistic or insightful than fail at being both. This consideration is also useful when applied to the visualization tool itself. Taking in account the context, audience and goals of Many Eyes, a pragmatic approach is more appropriate than an artistic one. The average user simply does not posses the skills and expertise that is required to create an effective visual design. Finding the right graph to fit the data in order to create a meaningful result is already a difficult task for users without any experience with visual design. Many Eyes does however offer the possibility for the actual viewer of a created visualization to change the graph type and flip row and column to explore other ways of visually presenting the data that could lead to new meaningful insights. Many Eyes can in that sense be understood as a discovery tool that Lima referred to earlier (Lima 2009). Furthermore these functions regard the non-visual narrative technique of interaction by Segel and Heer that I discussed in section 4. (Segel & Heer 2010, 7).
What I can conclude by this research is that even though datavisualizations can both be artistic and functional at the same time, finding the right balance that corresponds to a particular context requires certain skills and experience. There is still much to learn and the field of datavisualization can benefit from a more interdisciplinary approach in which art designers and data analysts work together. Taking into consideration the distinctive goals, context and audiences of visualizations as merely art and visualizations as merely information, is a crucial first step. Kosara concludes along the same line of thought: ‘Pointing out differences must not be understood as a way of rejecting collaboration, but as the first step towards a more informed and useful way of working together. By digging deeper, we discover common ideas and approaches, such as critical thinking. Appropriating ideas common in the arts, but modelling them into a modus operandi acceptable for a scientific discipline, we can build new things that are much larger and richer than the sums of their parts’ (Kosara 2007, 6)
In the meanwhile by experimenting with online user-friendly visualization tools such as Many Eyes, users will be challenged and perhaps become more competent in finding the right balance between form and function within different contexts. Furthermore online visualization tools will have to consider certain trade-offs in their design in supporting this goal. In this way the democratization of datavisualization can lead to new insights concerning a healthy balance by providing a learning environment. In the end, what is needed and becoming increasingly essential in our new visual culture is the development of a visual literacy that enables people to critically analyse and create meaningful visuals. Anne Bamford, director of Visual Arts for the Centre for Research in Education and the Arts defines the concept of visual literacy as follows: ‘Visual literacy is what is seen with the eye and what is 'seen' in the mind. A visually literate person should be able to read and write visual language. This includes the ability to successfully decode and interpret visual messages and to encode and compose meaningful visual communications’ (Bamford 2003, 1)
Within this paper I have focussed on this last competence, which however does not mean that the other visual competencies are less important. Drawing on Bamfords definition of visual literacy, I want to reconsider the argument of Pauwels, which I quoted at the beginning of my paper: ‘Increased consumption and further democratization of visual technology does not necessarily lead to greater visual literacy’ (Pauwels 2008, 80). Although I agree that this is not necessarily the case, it has to be noted that the kind of visual literacy Pauwels refers to, stems from the perspective of the end-user as viewer and refers to the skills that are required to understand the meaning and purpose of images. In the case of the democratization of datavisualization however, it are the end-users that are becoming producers of these datavisualizations as a results of what Jenkins refers to as participatory culture; a
culture that is characterised by low barriers for ‘creating and sharing one’s creation’ (Jenkins et al. 2006, 3). With this in mind, the democratization of datavisualization could potentially lead to a greater visual literacy when more and more people are able to experiment with creating meaningful datavisualizations and during this process develop certain visual competencies like controlling visual attention and stimulating pattern perception.
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