Thoughts on Evaluating the usability of visualization methods in an exploratory geovisualization environment (Koua et al., 2006)

In this paper, Koua et al. developed a geovisualization use and usability assessment method based on variables including user tasks, time to complete tasks, usefulness and user reactions, compatibility with the user’s expectations for the different tasks, flexibility, perceived user understanding of the representations used, user satisfaction, and user preference rating. Their result seems to be decently analyzed and explain in a understandable way that different geovisualization methods have its advantage on certain tasks, and disadvantages on some of the other tasks. This study enlightened me that geovisualization process as tools to interpret data, rather than a representation of the data. As well as systematically assess and provide the which geovisualization method is better to use in terms of expected tasks it will perform. This helps me to make the decision when it comes to choosing method of geovisualization, which potentially means what kind of tasks I intend to provided for viewers, and what viewer will expect to gain and utilize the data.

However, I do find their assessment design not that convincing, in terms of participants involved in this assessments are all academics or researchers in science related field. Not only I am not convinced that this assessment are only made for professionals, since they exclude the general public, they also exclude policy makers, urban planners, and social activists, who are also potential users of geovisualization product. And sometimes general public and those social science related professionals tend to use more geovisualization products, due to the lack of programming or statistical skills to process and analyze data. Thus, I would argue the flaw of this assessment process is they fail to include all potential users of geovisualization products, when they only choosing participants from the nature science professionals.

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