+ Research       + Teaching       + Consulting       + Art      

Research interests
Visualization studies; social and ethical perspectives on visualization practices; visual materiality; collaborative visualization; HCI and information design.

For the last twenty-five years, I have explored image-making and visual systems of representation through a variety of lenses, beginning as a visual artist and transitioning to my current work as a social scientist. While the perspectives and methods that I have brought to this inquiry have transformed over time, a core set of questions has persisted:

  • How is information made visible through the process of image-making?
  • What types of information can be made visible through the creation of visual systems of representation?
  • What are the social and communicative implications of design choices made in the process of creating those systems?

These questions have led to my efforts to establish the area of Visualization Studies within the information field. The goal of my research is to expand awareness and understanding of the range of activities associated with the creation and use of visual information beyond those typically considered by fields such as information visualization (Snyder, 2014). While data visualizations readily come to mind when thinking about visual forms of information, anyone who has clarified a thought or prompted a response during a conversation by sketching an idea on a scrap of paper has exploited the potential of image making as a tool for conveying information. From this perspective, I study a range of different types of image-making as information-driven, communicative practices.

Through the study of vernacular or non-expert visual practices in domains such as personal health informatics and public engagement in science, I am developing a situated understanding of the roles that the creation of visual representations of information can and does play in coordinated activities and social interactions among diverse stakeholders. This knowledge is critical for improving the design of communication tools and environments that support coordinated practices among heterogeneous and diverse groups. This line of inquiry, along with the qualitative and design methodologies that I employ, places my work in direct dialogue with (1) sociotechnical research conducted by members of the computer supported cooperative work (CSCW) community within the broad domain of human computer interaction (HCI), and (2) critical perspectives on the study of information, data, and the nature of visual evidence prevalent in science and technology studies (STS).