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Center for Computational Science to Host 2nd Annual VizUM Symposium November 12

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    By Megan Ondrizek
    UM News

    CORAL GABLES, Fla. (November 5, 2015) – In the digital, social media world of 140-character messages and 15-second video uploads, data visualization gives new meaning to the idiom “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Data visualization started out as a primarily academic field but has become much more widely practiced and visible, thanks in part to modern browsers, increased practice of JavaScript and HTML5, and online forums for displaying the work.

    On November 12, the University of Miami’s Center for Computational Science holds its second annual VizUM Symposium, a data visualization celebration with game-changers from Google and OpenVis. Presenters Lynn Cherny, Fernanda Viégas, and Martin Wattenberg are each pioneers in the field of data visualization and continue to forge new ground in the domain.

    “Visualization, especially interactive visualization, engages people in a way that a long text article or paper doesn’t, at least at first glance,” said Cherny, Visiting Knight Chair for the Center for Communication, Culture, and Change at UM’s School of Communication. “Sometimes a great visual piece will pull people into a longer story, or make them curious about the data and lead them on a quest to learn more.”

    At VizUM, Cherny will present an overview of interactive visualization design techniques to give the audience a feel for what goes into designing one of these interactives. As design principles for interactives differ from those of static infographics, the examples will make for a more engaging demonstration for the audience and showcase the educational work Cherny oversees with the Center for Communication, Culture, and Change.

    “Interactive visualization in journalism often presents a prepared story and then opens up an exploratory space for the reader to look further for things of more personal relevance,” Cherny said. “In scientific work, interactive visualization is a key exploratory method for finding ‘results’—visualizations of data help us find patterns, outliers, errors in the data, and direct the next path of statistical inquiry. Science doesn’t happen without visualization, and great journalism can be enhanced with great visualization.”

    Other speakers include Fernanda Viégas, and Martin Wattenberg, leaders of Google’s “Big Picture” data visualization research group, which invents new ways for people to understand and explore data. Viégas and Wattenberg are well known for their global contributions to social and collaborative visualization, and their visualization artwork has been exhibited at museums worldwide.

    The event includes introductory remarks by Sawsan Khuri, director of Engagement for the Center for Computational Science, and Alberto Cairo, Knight Chair in Visual Journalism for UM’s School of Communication. The symposium is sponsored by the Knight Foundation, UM’s Center for Computational Science, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the School of Communication’s Center for Communication, Culture, and Change.


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