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Executive Summary

Overview Report

Main Report


  Computer Graphics
  The Web


Bibliographic History

Review of Visualization in the Social Sciences

Visualization in the Social Sciences

"Visualization of Information and Data: Where Are We Now and Where Do We Go From Here?"

The title is taken from name of a workshop held last year in Paris [57], and it essentially summarises the aim of part of this report. According to the workshop, information visualization is crucial for the success of the so called `information revolution'. Visualization in computer science terms involves both the conversion of `abstract' data into `concrete' visual representations and the creation of user interfaces to support tasks such as searching, data mining and exploratory data analysis, analysis and modelling of data, representation and display of data and teaching and learning aids.

'Recent' Developments in Visualization

There has been a long history of visualization in the social sciences (e.g. John Snow's maps of the 1854 cholera outbreak in Soho and Charles Booth's maps of poverty in London 1889). However, changes in visualization technology in the last few decades are profoundly affecting the way in which the social sciences are researched, and in which studies are communicated (Olson, 1997). These changes have been largely initiated by the rapid development of computer technology since the 1980s, resulting in the availability of powerful and affordable computing. The review will essentially be concerned with developments in computer visualization that have occurred during the 1990s. With respect to the social sciences, four distinct visualisation technologies have evolved: advanced computer graphics, multimedia, the World Wide Web and Virtual Reality.

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