Cognitive and Usability Issues in Geovisualization (Slocum et al., 2001)  

This paper discusses the challenges of using novel geovisulization methods (methods based on advanced software and hardware) and emphasize the significance to conduct cognitive research and usability evaluation for higher effectiveness of these methods. I may agree that it is important to explore how to develop and apply the geovisulization methods “correctly”. Main reasons are, first, geovisualization can be widely applied in different fields having varied requirements; second, the old cognitive framework of geovisualization methods is not suitable to guide new techs (i.e. novel methods). When new techs coming, they bring both new demands and issues. People may want geovisualization to achieve more, for example, we achieve ubiquitous monitoring of the environment through geovisualize the data from the popularity of mobile devices or censors. While, people also concerns the issues of surveillance and privacy. Therefore, it is necessary to do research for guiding the geovisualizaiton method developments and applications.

However, I am not quite convinced by the arguments of using the usability engineering methods to evaluate the effectiveness of geovisualization methods. First, I didn’t see a good definition or explanation of effectiveness in this paper. Effectiveness may be varied when applying geovisulization methods in different cases, but I still believe the authors should have a general and clear definition to state what effectiveness is with respect to gevisualization. Or even they can just clearly say effectiveness of gevisualization methods is the same to that of other software. Second, I think the authors can be more straightforward about saying the essence of adopting concepts from usability engineering, which is geovisulizaiton methods should be highly user-centered. According to the authors, we should highly consider the user needs and iteratively improve the methods instead of developing them first and testing in the end. This clarification may make readers less confused about why we need usability engineering here.

Following the discussion, I believe it is better to have further investigation on how to practically adopt usability engineering methods in geovisualization. We may need to distinguish the geovisualization tool from general software and customize a development life cycle for it. Besides, since this paper is published in 2001, which is 16 years ago, it is good to ask whether the concepts promoted in this paper are still valid in term of emerging “novel methods”.

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