Yes, it’s been a long time since I posted, but I have a good excuse. I recently completed and defended my dissertation. So I have been writing about the visual forest, just not in blog format.Â Quite the opposite. But now that the final document has been reviewed, revised and accepted (submitted on Leap Day), I hope to be contributing posts more regularly. More pictures, more frequently.
For those that are curious, I received my PhD in Information Science and Technology from the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. My dissertation is entitled “Image-Enabled Discourse: Investigating the Creation of Visual Information as Communicative Practice.” The abstract is below and pdf of the full, final version is here.
ABSTRACT. Anyone who has clarified aÂ thought or prompted a response during a conversationÂ by drawing a picture has exploited the potential of imageÂ making as anÂ interactive tool for conveying information. Images are increasinglyÂ ubiquitous in daily communication, in large part due to advances inÂ visually enabled information and communication technologies (ICT), such asÂ information visualization applications, imageÂ retrieval systems andÂ visually enabled collaborative work tools. HumanÂ abilities toÂ use images to communicate are however far more sophisticated and nuancedÂ than these technologies currently support. In order to learn more about the practice ofÂ image making as a specialized form of information and communication behavior, this study examined face-to-faceÂ conversations involving the creation of ad hoc visualizationsÂ (i.e.,Â â€œnapkin drawingsâ€). A model of image-enabled discourse is introduced, which positions image making as a specialized form of communicative practice. Multimodal analysis of video-recorded conversations focused on identifying image-enabledÂ communicative activities in terms of interactional sociolinguistic concepts of conversationalÂ involvement and coordination, specifically framing, footing and stance. The study shows that when drawing occurs in the context of an ongoing dialogue, theÂ activity of visual representation performs keyÂ communicative tasks. Visualization is a form of social interaction that contributes to the maintenance of conversational involvement in waysÂ that are not oftenÂ evident in the imageÂ artifact.Â For example, drawingÂ enables us to coordinateÂ with each other, to introduce alternative perspectives into a conversationÂ and even toÂ temporarily suspend the primary thread of a discussion inÂ order to explore a tangential thought. The study compares attributes of the image artifact with those of the activity of image making, described as a series of contrasting affordances. VisualÂ information in complexÂ systems is generally represented and managed based on the affordances of the artifact, neglecting toÂ account forÂ all that is communicated through the situated action of creating.Â These finding haveÂ heuristic and best-practiceÂ implications for a range of areas related to theÂ design and evaluation of virtual collaboration environments,Â visual informationÂ extraction and retrieval systems, and data visualization tools.