The Eyes Have It: User Interfaces for Information Visualization

Ben Shneiderman, Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, University of Maryland

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University February 20, 1998


Human perceptual skills are remarkable, but largely underutilized by current graphical user interfaces. The next generation of animated GUIs and visual data mining tools can provide users with remarkable capabilities if designers follow the Visual Information-Seeking Mantra:

  Overview first, zoom and filter, then details-on-demand.

But this is only a starting point in the path to understanding the rich set of information visualizations that have been proposed. Two other landmarks are:

As a guide to research, information visualizations can be categorized into 7 datatypes (1-, 2-, 3-dimensional data, temporal and multi-dimensional data, and tree and network data) and 7 tasks (overview, zoom, filter, details-on-demand, relate, history, and extract). Research directions include algorithms for rapid display update with millions of data points, strategies to explore vast multi-dimensional spaces of linked data, and design of advanced user controls.


The following papers may be of interest to read in advance of the talk. These are all available on the HCIL website under the Technical Reports. In declining order of relevance (most important first):


Ben Shneiderman is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science, Head of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, and Member of the Institute for Systems Research, all at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Dr. Shneiderman is the author of Software Psychology: Human Factors in Computer and Information Systems (1980) and Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction (1987, second edition 1992, third edition 1997), Addison-Wesley Publishers, Reading, MA. 

Dr. Shneiderman has co-authored two textbooks, edited three technical books, and published more than 180 technical papers and book chapters. His 1993 edited book Sparks of Innovation in Human-Computer Interaction collects 25 papers from ten years of research at the University of Maryland. This collection includes Dr. Shneiderman's seminal paper on direct manipulation, a term he coined in 1981 to describe the graphical user interface design principles: visual presentation of objects and actions combined with pointing techniques to accomplish rapid incremental and reversible operations.

Ben Shneiderman received his BS from City College of New York in 1968, his PhD from State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1973. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 1996 and was elected as a Fellow of the Association for Computing (ACM) in 1997.


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