|InfoVis.net>Magazine>message nº 31||Published 2001-02-26|
|También disponible en Español|
The digital magazine of InfoVis.net
It's a process that we perform daily almost inadvertently. For example, when we gather the data about the monthly sales, grouping it by product type and demarcation and entering it in a spreadsheet to get a bar chart, we are performing an operation of knowledge crystallisation. This operation culminates when we really extract the knowledge that underlies all this data: the sales of a particular product have grown by 15% since the beginning of the advertising campaign.
Knowledge crystallisation is a concept popularised by Stuart Card and other researchers at the Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center). They define it as the process through which "one person gathers information for some purpose, makes sense of it by building a representational schema, and then packages it into some form of communication or action". (See the book Readings in information Visualization by Card et al. Readings in Information Visualization page 10).
The phases that this process comprises of can be summarised as:
Information visualisation contributes to the creation of the schema and to the problem solving phase. If the schema is already well established, knowledge crystallisation reduces to information retrieval. The sales statistics are not re-invented each month. We just fill it in with the new data that then allow us to see how the pattern has changed since the last month. Anyway the bar chart is still what reveals the trend every month.
The idea underlying the concept of knowledge crystallisation is simple, yet it reveals the usual process of digestion of information and, hence, it's a powerful starting point in order to improve the way in which we extract knowledge out of data.
Links of this issue:
Subscribe to the free newsletter