John Outwater

One of the aspects of this program that I was most looking forward to is understanding how humans perceive visuals subjectively and objectively and how that relates to the dynamics of computer systems. It is interesting to hear how computers and humans look at color differently. It is extremely important to understand the best way to communicate with each as a visualizer. I am really happy to hear the CIE studied some of these differences and has offered options for us to use this information in designing for both computers and humans.

In the first part of the blog, there is a lot of attention on hue, saturation, and lightness. It sounds like this combination allows for the best communication (compared to others) when used appropriately. Are there any situations where other categorical combinations of colors would work better to express a certain dataset? This whole concept seems overly granular but we as visualizers should always strive to express data through colors as effectively as possible. Some of the blog’s examples of color ramps have specifically exemplified these seemingly inconsequential yet obviously impactful differences in choices around showing color change (ex: linear vs. logarithmic).

Understanding more about the choices around cartographic design was a fun process since I have a background in GIS. I have thought a lot about these choices but have never read about them in such detail. Experts have studied many hours to define the best actions for color in certain categories. I really liked the USGS map that displayed land cover in Oregon because it figures out a way to intuitively present sixteen different colors by grouping similar categories together. Although a user may not read the map and try to find every difference, it gives the viewer a clear understanding of the land cover trends in the area.

As a final note and following my thoughts in the previous paragraph, it was nice to see the tools and tips for creating color in the mapping program I used, Acrmap. Using the symbology tool in the software was one of the most entertaining parts of my job. It is cool to know that color brewer is used in the program.

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