The Visualisers’ Voices – Narratives from the experience and practice of VCH from an international survey undertaken in 2013

Orla Murphy University College Cork

Shawn Day University College Cork

Fredrik Palm HUMlab Umea U

Jean-Christoph Plantin U Mich, Daniel Alves University of Lisbon

NeDiMAH (Network for Digital Methods in the Arts and Humanities)

Work Group 2: Information Visualisation

This paper explores the responses to an international survey on the uses of visualization and virtualization techniques in the Arts and Humanities under the auspices of NeDiMAH.  In the survey a picture emerges of an engaged, dynamic group of individuals who are using visualization in the Digital Arts and Humanities.  They are creating solutions to the issues of interactivity, participation, temporality and multidimensionality that arise in contemporary research practice and knowledge design.  Their research questions, and their representations of solutions to those questions demand an engaged scholarship that is collaboratory, transdisciplinary, and open.  Their language exudes an exploratory scholarship that is testing traditional boundaries for expression, and demanding new ways of visualizing, mapping, representing, augmenting humanities scholarship using new technologies and new techniques.

From that depth, issues arose surrounding the interrogation of temporality and multidimensionality within visualizations and indeed datasets.  Some respondents did not understand the potential of visualization, particularly interactive visualization to capture movement, trajectory and flow.  Often this was from self-declared naïve scholars just beginning to explore visualization as part of their process. There is a lot of humour in this survey too, that we can all relate to! How do you deal with multiple formats in the data?  “I cry”  –  “I pout” when the data misbehaves …

In the paper we address key issues in emerging practice – moving beyond print and PDF for promotion and tenure, and exploring an engaged visualized knowledge environment as an acceptable key performance indicator within the academy.  It is a snapshot of the state of the field and an anchor for future development.

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