User-Centered Collaborative Visualization
Abstract: The last couple of years have marked the entire field of information technology with the introduction of a new global resource, called data. Certainly, one can argue that large amounts of information and highly interconnected and complex datasets were available since the dawn of the computer and even centuries before. However, it has been only a few years since digital data has exponentially expended, diversified and interconnected into an overwhelming range of domains, generating an entire universe of zeros and ones. This universe represents a source of information with the potential of advancing a multitude of fields and sparking valuable insights. In order to obtain this information, this data needs to be explored, analyzed and interpreted.While a large set of problems can be addressed through automatic techniques from fields like artificial intelligence, machine learning or computer vision, there are various datasets and domains that still rely on the human intuition and experience in order to parse and discover hidden information. In such instances, the data is usually structured and represented in the form of an interactive visual representation that allows users to efficiently explore the data space and reach valuable insights. However, the experience, knowledge and intuition of a single person also has its limits. To address this, collaborative visualizations allow multiple users to communicate, interact and explore a visual representation by building on the different views and knowledge blocks contributed by each person.In this dissertation, we explore the potential of subjective measurements and user emotional awareness in collaborative scenarios as well as support flexible and user-centered collaboration in information visualization systems running on tabletop displays. We commence by introducing the concept of user-centered collaborative visualization (UCCV) and highlighting the context in which it applies. We continue with a thorough overview of the state-of-the-art in the areas of collaborative information visualization, subjectivity measurement and emotion visualization, combinable tabletop tangibles, as well as browsing history visualizations. Based on a new web browser history visualization for exploring user parallel browsing behavior, we introduce two novel user-centered techniques for supporting collaboration in co-located visualization systems. To begin with, we inspect the particularities of detecting user subjectivity through brain-computer interfaces, and present two emotion visualization techniques for touch and desktop interfaces. These visualizations offer real-time or post-task feedback about the users’ affective states, both in single-user and collaborative settings, thus increasing the emotional self-awareness and the awareness of other users’ emotions. For supporting collaborative interaction, a novel design for tabletop tangibles is described together with a set of specifically developed interactions for supporting tabletop collaboration. These ring-shaped tangibles minimize occlusion, support touch interaction, can act as interaction lenses, and describe logical operations through nesting operations. The visualization and the two UCCV techniques are each evaluated individually capturing a set of advantages and limitations of each approach. Additionally, the collaborative visualization supported by the two UCCV techniques is also collectively evaluated in three user studies that offer insight into the specifics of interpersonal interaction and task transition in collaborative visualization. The results show that the proposed collaboration support techniques do not only improve the efficiency of the visualization, but also help maintain the collaboration process and aid a balanced social interaction.
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