On Sense Making and the Generation of Knowledge in Visual Analytics

communication medium

MDPI Analytics


Interactive visual tools and related visualization technologies, built to support explorative data analysis, ultimately lead to sense making and knowledge discovery from large volumes of raw data. These processes namely rely on human visual perception and cognition, in which human analysts perceive external representations (system structure, dataset, integral data visualizations) and form respective internal representations (internal cognitive imprints of external systems) that enable deeper comprehension of the employed system and the underlying data features. These internal representations further evolve through continuous interaction with external representations. They also depend on the individual’s own cognitive pathways. Currently, there has been insufficient work on understanding how these internal cognitive mechanisms form and function. Hence, we aim to offer our own interpretations of such processes observed through our daily data exploration workflows. This is accomplished by following specific explorative data science tasks while working with diverse interactive visual systems and related notebook style environments that have different organizational structures and thus may entail different approaches to thinking and shaping sense making and knowledge generation. In this paper, we deliberate on the cognitive implications for human analysists when interacting with such a diverse organizational structure of tools and approaches when performing the essential steps of an explorative visual analysis.

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visual analytics; data visualization; mental models; knowledge generation; sense making