Physicalizing Information with Magnitude for Reducing User’s Cognitive…

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Name 조봉조 Date18-01-08 15:41 Hit260 Comment0

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This study is for information physicalization with magnitude. People constantly engage with vast quantities of information, but, some data go unused or are underused simply because people cannot visualize the quantities in and relationships among them. Thus, the field of information visualization emerged to present methods, such as diagrams, images, and charts for representing information in more intuitive and understandable ways. Visualizations have become an increasingly important part of helping people interpret information. When visualizing information with a physical object, people manipulate, explore, and engage with the object. To utilize advantages of physical objects, people have studied information physicalization, which is a physical artefact whose geometry or material properties encode information. The information physicalization has a potential to encourage people to reflect on the meaning of the data and thereby change their behavior.
Magnitude is the relative size of an object when associated with the cognitive load related to the amount of information working memory can hold at one time. As working memory has a limited capacity, cognitive overload should be avoided. The multitude, which should be considered a numerical value and the unit of measurement, has a higher cognitive load than magnitude. Thus, visualizing information with magnitude but without numbers reduces cognitive load, and it is easier to process the information in comparison with multitude. Therefore, information physicalization with magnitude is a powerful tool that encourages people to access and understand information and change their behaviors.
To know what information can be physicalized and how to physicalize it with magnitude, design workshops for physicalizing information with magnitude were conducted. Participants were 20 students majoring in either industrial design or ergonomics. There were several materials available to help participants visualize their ideas. Workshops were held five times and lasted one hour with four participants per each workshop. Workshops had three sessions, such as instruction, brainstorming information, and creating. In the instruction session, I explained the topic and purpose of the workshop and provided necessary background information for the participants. Next, they brainstormed which information can be physicalized with magnitude and wrote down their ideas on Post-it notes. Then, they selected some information they wanted to represent and started to visualize ways to present the selected information with prepared materials. All outcomes were and recorded and typed.
As a result of design workshop, there were 206 data from the brainstorming information session to represent. Since there were overlaps, the frequency of appearance for each entry was counted. In total, 158 kinds of information were identified and organized into 29 affinity diagrams, with topics including activity, health, resource, environment, society, etc. The data collected from next session were 91, and they were coded into 14 groups. Each group of information and physical representation was paired based on the results of workshop.
The relationship between combinations can be summarized by a short sentence. One example is representing muscle mass by the size of a balloon. The more muscle mass, the bigger the balloon. It can be summarized like, “More is bigger.” These mappings imply a metaphor, which can help people conceptualize complex systems. Metaphors can be categorized into three primary types: form, property, and stereotype. A form metaphor compares the form of information and way it is transmitted. In this metaphor, similar characteristics are paired, like “More is more.” It reflects the characteristic of information form to the way it is transmitted. Thus, it behaves proportionally. This type of metaphor is the most common and easiest way to pair the information with a physical object. A property metaphor represents target information with something else that has similar properties. It is sometimes referred to as a cause and effect metaphor. Using a property metaphor can provide understandable information to people in novel ways. The last metaphor is stereotype. The stereotype may or may not accurately reflect reality, but some people subscribe to it. It can also be used metaphorically. For example, a participant represented Wi-Fi signal strength with the volume of an inflated balloon, that is, “Strong is bigger.” Although something strong may or may not be big, many people associate strong with big, so it can be used as a metaphor. But, someone who has an opposing viewpoint, understanding, or experience may misinterpret information mapped by a stereotype metaphor. Thus, when using this type of metaphor, users should be careful to physicalize information with magnitude.
Based on the results, I proposed a design suggestion, showing amount of smoking with a feather in bottle. Likewise, when designers physicalize some information with magnitude, this study can be helpful to them. After selecting information to represent, a study group can be enlisted. Designers can refer to the mapping between information and ways to represent it. By linking mapping to using metaphors, designer can provide enough guide toward physicalizing information to users.

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