Visualization Rhetoric

This research asks how different rhetorical techniques can be used to affect the interpretation of a visualization. We carefully analyzed 51 narrative visualizations and constructed a taxonomy of rhetorical techniques we found being used. We observed rhetorical techniques being employed at four different editorial layers of a visualization: data, visual representation, annotations, and interactivity. The five main classes of rhetoric we found being used include: information access (e.g. how data is omitted or aggregated), provenance (e.g. how data sources are explained and how uncertainty is shown), mapping (e.g. the use of visual metaphor), linguistic techniques (e.g. irony or apostrophe), and procedural rhetoric (e.g. how default views anchor interpretation). This conceptual framework can be useful for designers hoping to maximize the communicative potential of a visualization or as a vocabulary for talking about visualization interpretation. The full study and results can be found here:

J. Hullman and N. Diakopoulos. Visualization Rhetoric: Framing Effects in Narrative Visualization. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics. October 2011. [PDF]