Social Visualizations Claims by T. Erickson

Erickson, T. Designing visualizations of social activity: six claims. In proceedings of CHI 2003. The authors of this paper describes a set of claims drawn from his work about visual representations of groups in online environments. He briefly presents the work done with Babble (see representation below), a tool that proposes "social visualizations": "a visual (or sonic or other perceptual) representation of information from which the presence, activities, and other characteristics of members of a social collectivity may be inferred, and, by extension, can provide the basis for making inferences about the activities and characteristics of the group as a whole". This corresponds to what has been called elsewhere "awareness tool/interface".

Everyone sees the same thing; no customization: An important aspect of the power of a social visualization is the knowledge that everyone sees the same thing. If I see something, I know that you see it as well and that you know that I know.

Portray actions, not interpretation: let the users interpret—they understand the context better than the system ever will.

Social visualizations should allow deception stakeholders or other recipients of our ideas.

Support micro/macro readings (a la Tufte)

Ambiguity is useful: suggest rather than inform: accurately presenting information is not the point of a social visualization; its primary role is to provide grist for inferences.

Use a third-person point of view: People learn what elements of the social visualization mean by watching it over time, and, particularly, by seeing their own behavior reflected in it.

Why do I blog this? even though I am more interested in visualization for designers and not for users (as in this case), this gives interesting ideas for what I am working on currently. What I will use in my visualization will be: a third-person point of view (of course because I want a synthetic view of players actions), micro/macro readings, portraying actions (communication, division of labor, roles...).