The great InfoVis and SciVis divide
Ever since I’ve been involved with visualization, the two factions in the visualization community have fascinated and amused me. Scientific visualization deals with visualizing data that has inherent structure such as medical, hurricane, CFD data and so on. Information visualization deals with visualizing data that does not have an inherent structure such as financial stock market data, census data, genetic data and so on.
On attending many editions of the Annual IEEE Visualization and IEEE InfoVis (Information Visualization) conferences, I found that they are two entirely separate entities. The set of people organizing, attending and involved one conference is almost disjoint from the other set. There are some practitioners and researchers who keenly attend and participate in both versions but they are far and few in between.
The Visualization community isnt unaware of this strange but interesting divide.
They have had two panels, one in 2004 and another one in 2006 to discuss this divide and examine the pros and cons.
In 2003, the topic was “Information and scientific visualization: Separate but equal or happy together at last?” with leading experts from both fields pitching in.
- Theresa-Marie Rhyne, North Carolina State University
- Melanie Tory, Simon Fraser University
- Tamara Munzner, University of British Columbia
- Matt Ward, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
- Chris Johnson, University of Utah
- David H. Laidlaw, Brown University
At the IEEE Visualization 2006 conference held in Baltimore, MD there was another panel. This was organized by Dr. Helwig Hauser and was aptly called SciVis, InfoVis – Bridging the Community Divide?!
Top researchers from both factions presented their point of view. The panelists were
- Daniel Weiskopf, Simon Fraser University
- Kwan-Liu Ma, UC Davis
- Jarke J. van Wijk, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven
- Robert Kosara, UNC Charlotte and
- Helwig Hauser, VRVIS Research Center
I have taken courses in Visualization that have included both SciVis and InfoVis papers and believe that they both fall under the umbrella of “Visualization” anyway. Personally, I think that having two conferences improves the number of excellent papers that a researcher can read, but I still believe that we are all conducting research to provide insight to application domain users using innovative visualization techniques.
Comments and thoughts are welcome.