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Completed research project

Title / Titel Realism and perceptions of data quality in computer-displayed maps (RealViz)
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Original title / Originaltitel Realism and Perceptions of Data Quality in Computer-Displayed Maps
Summary / Zusammenfassung Issues in data quality are of particular interest as we continue to accumulate huge quantities of digital information. Creators of information are familiar with the inherent shortcomings in translating real-world observations into digital form, but do users understand the limitations of data?

Cartographers have long been aware of the necessity of presenting an abstract view of the infinitely complex world. Improvements in computer technology allow increased realism in digital images and there seems to be a general movement toward more realistic displays of spatial data. More realistic visual rendering does not necessarily mean that the underlying data are closer to reality. Moreover, precise and crisp looking digital displays are not necessarily more accurate or more true to reality than a hand drawn sketch made from the same underlying data.

Researchers are currently looking into the idea of communicating the degree of uncertainty in digital data to consumers by depicting data uncertainty embedded in the graphic displays. Is the trend toward more realism doing the opposite and conveying, perhaps inadvertently, the impression of more certainty in the data?

This ongoing line of empirical research examines the overall question: “Do people infer a higher quality of data from maps that look computer-made and/or more realistic?” A series of experimental desgins are developed to experimentally assess people’s confidence in the quality of spatial data depending on graphic display characteristics. For example, by isolating realism as a visual variable, it is possible to determine its influence. An experimental pilot study was conducted comparing a more generalized and abstract map to two more detailed, and photo-realistic-looking maps and aerial photographs. In the studies participants were asked to perform estimation tasks and give ratings of their level of confidence in how well the maps represent reality.
Publications / Publikationen Refereed Extended Abstract:

Zanola, S., Fabrikant, S. I., and Çöltekin, A. (2009). The Effect of Realism on the Confidence in Spatial Data Quality. Proceedings, 24th International Cartography Conference (ICC 2009), Santiago, Chile, Nov. 15-21, 2009. (refereed abstract).

Boughman, T. and Fabrikant, S. I. (2004). Realism and Perceptions of Quality in Computer-Displayed Maps. GIScience 2004, College Park, MD, Oct. 20-24, 2004: 35-37.

Boughman, T. (2005) Realism and Perceptions of Data Quality in Computer-Displayed Maps. Unpublished Masters Thesis, Department of Geography, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA.

Weitere Informationen

Keywords / Suchbegriffe uncertainty, data quality, geovisualization, cartography, perception
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Prof. Sara Irina Fabrikant, Ph.D. (Project Leader)
Silvio Zanola, MSc  
Rahel Klausener, MSc  
Adrian Streit, MSc  
Other links to external web pages
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
U.S. National Science Foundation, Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Program on Interactive Multimedia (funding during 2003-2005)
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Sep 2003 to Jun 2013