Isotype Visualizations as a Chance for
Participation & Civic Education
Eva Mayr & Günther Schreder
Center for Cognition, I...
Information Visualization
… uses computer-supported, interactive
visual representations of abstract data
to amplify cognit...
Information Visualization
Information Visualization
Information Visualization
Otto Neurath (1882-1945)
„Statistics is a tool of proletarian battle,
statistics is a necessary element of the
socialist s...
„At the first look,
you see the most important points,
at the second,
the less important points,
at the third, the details...
ISOTYPE
= International System Of TYpographic Picture Education
Rules
• Consistent use of the same symbols
• Symbols of th...
Basics of Isotype
Isotype: Geographical Information & Density
Isotype: Education
Isotype: Political Education
Isotype: Political Information
20121943
Isotype: Political Systems
20121943
Current Use of Isotype
“We are not able to take over the old signs as they are. Adjustments
have to be made in relation to...
Pictograms – Information Design & Wayfinding
Pictograms in Popular Culture
Isotype-like Graphs in Mass Media
Evaluating Isotype – (1) Communication View
A successful data visualization …
… understands its audience
… sets up a clear...
Evaluating Isotype – (2) Cognitive View
Likenesses can be readily
recognized, faster understood,
and better memorized
(Tve...
Isotype-based pictorial statistics clearly have
potential, but they do not play a prominent role in
information visualizat...
Drawbacks of the Isotype Approach
(1) Isotype was not included in research on graph comprehension, though
some Isotype rul...
Outlook
Why has Isotype potential for participation and civic education?
• It provides easy access to statistics.
• It pos...
Isotype – The next steps
• Making explicit the rules of data-Isotype transformation
(M. Neurath & Kinross, 2009)
• Evaluat...
Isotype 2.0
= an interactive information visualization based on Isotype
• It allows users to select statistical data, disp...
THANK YOU !
guenther.schreder@donau-uni.ac.at
eva.mayr@donau-uni.ac.at
Cedem em gs
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Cedem em gs

  1. 1. Isotype Visualizations as a Chance for Participation & Civic Education Eva Mayr & Günther Schreder Center for Cognition, Information & Management Danube University Krems
  2. 2. Information Visualization … uses computer-supported, interactive visual representations of abstract data to amplify cognition to enable insights (Card, MacKinlay, & Shneiderman, 1999) and to motivate action
  3. 3. Information Visualization
  4. 4. Information Visualization
  5. 5. Information Visualization
  6. 6. Otto Neurath (1882-1945) „Statistics is a tool of proletarian battle, statistics is a necessary element of the socialist system, statistics is a delight for the international proletariat struggling with the ruling classes” (O. Neurath, 1927/1994, p. 297)  Vienna Method of Pictorial Statistics „ISOTYPE“
  7. 7. „At the first look, you see the most important points, at the second, the less important points, at the third, the details, at the fourth, nothing more.“ (O. Neurath, 1936, p. 27)
  8. 8. ISOTYPE = International System Of TYpographic Picture Education Rules • Consistent use of the same symbols • Symbols of the same size are repeated according to their frequency • High resemblance to the object they represent • Flexibly combinable, e.g. with attributes or other symbols • Can display frequency, location, history, duration, density, …
  9. 9. Basics of Isotype
  10. 10. Isotype: Geographical Information & Density
  11. 11. Isotype: Education
  12. 12. Isotype: Political Education
  13. 13. Isotype: Political Information 20121943
  14. 14. Isotype: Political Systems 20121943
  15. 15. Current Use of Isotype “We are not able to take over the old signs as they are. Adjustments have to be made in relation to the forms of today and tomorrow.” (Neurath, 1936, p. 40) Influences in … • Information visualization • Pictogram design (Gerd Arntz!) • Mass media graphics
  16. 16. Pictograms – Information Design & Wayfinding
  17. 17. Pictograms in Popular Culture
  18. 18. Isotype-like Graphs in Mass Media
  19. 19. Evaluating Isotype – (1) Communication View A successful data visualization … … understands its audience … sets up a clear framework … tells a story Isotype … … was evaluated, but not systematically not documented … built on rules, but partly well-documented partly implicit to transformer … has a narrative character activates narrative thinking provides guidance
  20. 20. Evaluating Isotype – (2) Cognitive View Likenesses can be readily recognized, faster understood, and better memorized (Tversky, 2011) … results in lower cognitive load (Rehkämper, 2011) … more ressources for deeper levels of processing -> active reception, free opinion formation (Hartmann, 2006) … triggers reflective thinking, reasoning, and discussion, rather than only communicating facts (Coy, 2006) „Reading a picture language is like making observations with the eye in everyday experience: […] the man has two legs; the picture-sign has two legs; but the word-sign ‘man’ has not two legs” (Neurath, 1936, p. 20)
  21. 21. Isotype-based pictorial statistics clearly have potential, but they do not play a prominent role in information visualization nowadays. - Why is this the case?
  22. 22. Drawbacks of the Isotype Approach (1) Isotype was not included in research on graph comprehension, though some Isotype rules are supported by their results. (Brase, 2008; Cleveland & McGill, 1984, 1985; Jansen, 2009) (2) Otto Neurath‘s work might be rejected due to political reasons. (Ihara, 2009; Jansen, 2009) (3) The design paradigm of a low data:ink-ratio contradicts Isotype rules. (Friel, Curcio, & Bright, 2001; Jansen, 2009; Tufte, 1983) (4) Visual presentation is preferred by people with lower educational levels. (O. Neurath, 1933/1994) (5) Isotype is not implemented in Excel nor in visualization taxonomies. (Chi, 2000; Rehkämper, 2011) (6) Isotype has to be learned. (M. Neurath & Kinross, 2009) (7) Not all concepts can be represented by symbols adequately. (Müller & Reautschnig, 2011)
  23. 23. Outlook Why has Isotype potential for participation and civic education? • It provides easy access to statistics. • It poses no (or little) requirements concerning educational level or prior knowledge. • It activates a motivation for active reception. „The Isotype-way of representing statistical facts heads in the right direction and […] we should rediscover its basic ideas“ (Rehkämper, 2011, p. 3)
  24. 24. Isotype – The next steps • Making explicit the rules of data-Isotype transformation (M. Neurath & Kinross, 2009) • Evaluating these rules systematically • Generating modern visual analogies • Developing modern Isotype-based information visualizations on the web “The internet provides an unprecedented opportunity to bring these pictorial statistics, possibly in animated form, within everyone’s reach. In this way, the ‘E’ (for education) in Isotype could regain its former status” (Jansen, 2009, p. 239)
  25. 25. Isotype 2.0 = an interactive information visualization based on Isotype • It allows users to select statistical data, display them, interact with them and discover relationships within them. • It allows users to generate information visualizations themselves Isotype 2.0 empowers the public by … (1) … informing people on relevant social, environmental, or political topics. (2) … enabling them to actively participate in society and politics based. (3) … allowing them to inform others and help them to become active citizens themselves.
  26. 26. THANK YOU ! guenther.schreder@donau-uni.ac.at eva.mayr@donau-uni.ac.at

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