Isabel Meirelles is a designer and educator. She has worked for more than 15 years developing internationally recognised print and interactive design projects. Since 2003 she has been teaching classes in information design and motion graphics at Northeastern University, Boston. Her intellectual curiosity lies in the relationships between visual thinking and visual representation, with a research focus on the theoretical and experimental examination of the fundamentals underlying how information is structured, represented, and communicated in different media. She is the author of Design for Information: An Introduction to the Histories, Theories, and Best Practices Behind Effective Information Visualizations
(Rockport Publishers, 2013).
Tuesday 8 April: Theory to inform practice in information design
Monitoring our burgeoning discipline
My talk will share research that culminated in the recent publication of my book Design for Information
in which I identified six informational structures – hierarchical, relational, spatial, temporal, spatio-temporal, and textual – that I examine in relation to their underlying theories, as well as in the context of current visualisations. For the latter, I developed a descriptive framework (metadata) for analysis and comparison of the data types, tasks, and audiences of the selected works under scrutiny. In addition, I discuss the cognitive and visual perceptual principles affecting the encoding and decoding processes under way in these visualisations.
A systematic examination of past and present work can help establish methods for critically thinking about what we do and how we move forward as a discipline. I firmly believe that a full understanding of how others have solved (design) problems enables one to develop a set of skills that may be deliberately accessed for use in expert and productive ways.
Information visualisation practices are expansive and expanding. How do we go about educating future generations of visualisation practitioners? What are the competences one needs to develop in order to devise effective visualisations? Ultimately, I would like to foster discussion about a knowledge base for the diverse information visualisation practices that we see unfolding in academia and industry alike.