Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Library & Information Science

Supervisor

Kamran Sedig

Abstract

As map-based visualizations of documents become more ubiquitous, there is a greater need for them to support intellectual and creative high-level cognitive activities with collections of non-cartographic materials -- documents. This dissertation concerns the conceptualization of map-based visualizations as tools for sensemaking and collection understanding. As such, map-based visualizations would help people use georeferenced documents to develop understanding, gain insight, discover knowledge, and construct meaning. This dissertation explores the role of graphical representations (such as maps, Kohonen maps, pie charts, and other) and interactions with them for developing map-based visualizations capable of facilitating sensemaking activities such as collection understanding. While graphical representations make document collections more perceptually and cognitively accessible, interactions allow users to adapt representations to users’ contextual needs. By interacting with representations of documents or collections and being able to construct representations of their own, people are better able to make sense of information, comprehend complex structures, and integrate new information into their existing mental models. In sum, representations and interactions may reduce cognitive load and consequently expedite the overall time necessary for completion of sensemaking activities, which typically take much time to accomplish. The dissertation proceeds in three phases. The first phase develops a conceptual framework for translating ontological properties of collections to representations and for supporting visual tasks by means of graphical representations. The second phase concerns the cognitive benefits of interaction. It conceptualizes how interactions can help people during complex sensemaking activities. Although the interactions are explained on the example of a prototype built with Google Maps, they are independent iv of Google Maps and can be applicable to various other technologies. The third phase evaluates the utility, analytical capabilities and usability of the additional representations when users interact with a visualization prototype – VIsual COLlection EXplorer. The findings suggest that additional representations can enhance understanding of map-based visualizations of library collections: specifically, they can allow users to see trends, gaps, and patterns in ontological properties of collections.

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