One of the encouraging trends is the effort to broaden the research agenda by looking outside the visualization community for ideas. The delightful keynote by Bill Geisler showed that perceptual and cognitive psychology are important sources. Other important sources include graphic design, illustration, and photography. But I think one of the best sources of ideas are scientists themselves. Faced by a problem in their everyday work, they often come up with a creative solution involving visualization.

Today I will discuss a unique type of scientific image, what Harry Robin calls a self-illustrating phenomena. I have always been drawn to these pictures because I think they are examples of great visualizations. Clearly useful because they are often associated with great discoveries. Just as importantly, they illustrate some general principles underlying good visualizations that can be used to guide research in visualization.

Although I am going to focus on science, I hope you will see that these ideas apply to the more general problems of information visualization.

Copyright© 2005 by Pat Hanrahan