Workshop Report

A couple weeks ago I attended a small Visualization workshop organized by the DHS and the CIA in New Mexico. It was my first time to the state. I met a number of interesting people in the Visualization community, including David Salesin, from Adobe, and Stephen Few.

The discussion focused on how documents and presentations could be produced more effectively and efficiently. Two main issues were raised:

  1. Best practices need to be codified.
    • There is a lot of research on how to communicate spread across a large number of fields including education, rhetoric, HCI, visualization, cognition, etc.
    • Having this knowledge consolidated and organized would be helpful for people.
    • With this knowledge, programs could be developed to automatically apply (or suggest) best practices, reducing the time needed to create an effective document.
  2. Documents need more background.
    • The analysis process behind a document is often as important as the document itself (containing just the final conclusions). If we had a way to track the analysis, it would be possible for document readers to drill-down into questionable conclusions. It would also be possible to check the analysis for consistency with changing conditions. For example if the document relied a piece of intelligence that was later shown to be false, the entire document could be flagged (automatically?) as “Overtaken by Events”.

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