Proceedings: GI 2007

Progressive multiples for communication-minded visualization

Doantam Phan, Andreas Paepcke, Terry Winograd

Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2007: Montréal, Québec, Canada, 28 - 30 May 2007, 225-232

DOI 10.1145/1268517.1268554

  • BibTex

    author = {Phan, Doantam and Paepcke, Andreas and Winograd, Terry},
    title = {Progressive multiples for communication-minded visualization},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2007},
    series = {GI 2007},
    year = {2007},
    issn = {0713-5424},
    isbn = {978-1-56881-337-0},
    location = {Montr{\'e}al, Qu{\'e}bec, Canada},
    pages = {225--232},
    numpages = {8},
    doi = {10.1145/1268517.1268554},
    acmdoi = {10.1145/1268517.1268554},
    publisher = {Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society},
    address = {University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada},


This paper describes a communication-minded visualization called progressive multiples that supports both the forensic analysis and presentation of multidimensional event data. We combine ideas from progressive disclosure, which reveals data to the user on demand, and small multiples [21], which allows users to compare many images at once. Sets of events are visualized as timelines. Events are placed in temporal order on the x-axis, and a scalar dimension of the data is mapped to the y-axis. To support forensic analysis, users can pivot from an event in an existing timeline to create a new timeline of related events. The timelines serve as an exploration history, which has two benefits. First, this exploration history allows users to backtrack and explore multiple paths. Second, once a user has concluded an analysis, these timelines serve as the raw visual material for composing a story about the analysis. A narrative that conveys the analytical result can be created for a third party by copying and reordering timelines from the history. Our work is motivated by working with network security administrators and researchers in political communication. We describe a prototype that we are deploying with administrators and the results of a user study where we applied our technique to the visualization of a simulated epidemic.