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EC Project 257859

European Union

Co-funded by the 
European Union

Towards a Metaphor Visualization

Over the last few months, ROBUST partner Polecat has continued to look into the concept of a metaphor based visualisation. This is more ambitious in scope than using metaphors within the visualisation; instead it is an attempt to create a visualisation that exclusively uses a single metaphor.

As part of the assessment of a suitable result, Polecat has looked at metaphors that are cross cultural; those images and items that are common to the human experience, regardless of the location or background of the user. The research gave six key signals:

  1. Flock behaviour – people intuitively understand that the movement of “things” (be they animals, cells, atoms etc) can represent people and they way they are working together.
  2. Seasonality – the natural cycle gives us all signals around health, from the new, weak life of spring, through to concepts like death and hibernation in winter.
  3. Size and activity – the relative size of elements in a visualisation easily translates to the notion of size in real life
  4. Colour and commonality – our reaction to colours is universal. For example, red is always understood as heat or danger.
  5. The natural world – caution is required here because of the breath of the natural world. But concepts like health, growth and reproduction are most viscerally expressed by the natural world.
  6. Growth (above and below)

Polecat is now working on visualisation prototypes using these signals and assessing them using crowd sourcing techniques. Results to follow...!

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