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Samuel Huron researcher at i3-DSES co-directs a special issue of the IEEE Computer Graphic & Application journal dedicated to data materialization
Posted on 13 December 2020

Today, we are surrounded by representations of data, in our work, home and social life, but the way we experience them remains almost exclusively through our eyes. Imagine for a moment that instead of looking at or reading a graph (data visualization), we are presented with a representation of data that we can touch, feel or hold (data materialization). Now imagine how the experience and understanding of the data may change for you when you query it through a different sensory modality. This is called data materialization. Materialization has become more and more widespread in recent years and has developed among new actors in fields such as computer scientists, artists, designers, psychologists, and practitioners of human-computer interaction and information visualization.

The articles in the special issue of the IEEE Computer Graphic & Application journal co-edited by Samuel Huron, Research Professor in Design and ICT at Télécom Paris, Trevor Hogan, Senior Lecturer at the Cork Multimedia Institute, Uta Hinrichs, Director of SACHI, Jason Alexander, Professor at the University of Bath and Yvonne Jansen, Research Fellow at ISIR present four articles covering a wide range of current research on the "materialization" of data, from theory to practice.

The first "What We Talk About When We Talk About Data Physicality" critically reflects on the notion of "data" in the context of data materialization. The author presents a conceptual framework (design space) that can help characterize the different ways in which data materialization relates to data ("epistemological" versus "ontological" and "representational" versus "relational"). The dimensions of this conceptual space are discussed and illustrated by existing examples of materialization.

In the second "Thinking With Things: Landscapes, Connections and Performances as Modes of Building Shared Understanding", the authors describe the use of materials to support how designers and academics imagine and understand interdisciplinary systems. The paper describes three workshop modes, "deploying landscape elements, focusing on connective tissue, and exploring dynamic performances," and focuses on the qualitative aspects of experiences from the perspective of how people think through the manipulation of materials.

Next, the third "Data Badges: Making an Academic Profile Through a DIY Wearable Physicalization" describes the design process and results of "data badge" materialization - portable personal visualizations to facilitate networking and social interaction at professional events such as academic conferences. These data badges were used at the Dagstuhl Data Materialization Seminar held in October 2018.

Finally, the latest "Move&Find: The Value of Kinesthetic Experience in a Casual Data Representation" presents a study where participants pedaled a bicycle to exert the energy needed to power a search on Google's servers. The authors explore how the body experience of this data, the power required, can affect how the "viewer" feels and reflects on the data.


Find the complete issue in English by clicking here