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Olivier Swienty

Olivier Swienty (aka: Oli)
Visiting Scholar
ViSLAB, The School of IT, The University of Sydney


Office:   3E-351, J12 School of IT Building, University of Sydney 2006 NSW Australia
Tel:       +61 2 9351 xxxx
Fax:      +61 2 9351 3838


How and why graphic information design works

How can we make a move from intuitively designed graphic displays to explainable, useful solutions? I am investigating this fundamental question by means of empirical eye-movement recordings.

Information visualization research concentrates on the technology-driven development of systems to fulfil objective requirements like the development of useful algorithms. Cognitive research on the subjective quality of how efficiently and effectively people visually process graphical information lags far behind this.

As a result, our design decisions are still based heavily on experiences and intuition. We know little about the effectiveness of graphic displays and the underlying cognitive skills required to use them. Since graphic displays support decision-making, I relate graphical information design to the domain which enables decision-making, the brain.

A major aspect of my work is to develop a theoretical and methodological framework that not only helps to find out which design works best, but also, more importantly, assists in understanding the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ it works. How do we process graphical information on complex displays? Why are some displays more suitable for visually demanding tasks like map-reading and network analysis than others?

We are unable to answer these questions. We know how to provide fast algorithms for generating information-rich displays. We do not, however, know why we visually process some of these displays faster and more accurately than others. I aim to close this knowledge gap.


Swienty O & M Takatsuka, (2010), From subjectivity to objectivity in information visualization: challenges in bridging the gap between cognitive theory and information design, Online Proceedings of IEEE Vis-Week 2010 Workshop: The Role of Theory in Information Visualization, 24-29 October, Salt Lake City, USA.

Jahnke M & O Swienty, (2009), Adapting the design of thematic information for miniaturised non-photorealistic 3D city models to the user's cognitive skill of visual attention, CD Proceedings of AGILE 2009: International Conference on Geographic Information Science, 2-5 June, Hannover, Germany.

Swienty O & T Reichenbacher, (2008), Evaluating the visual scanning efficiency of geovisualisation displays, CD Proceedings of Geospatial Visual Analytics Workshop, GIScience 2008, 23-26 September, Park City, USA.

Swienty O, M Jahnke, H Kumke & S Reppermund, (2008), Effective visual scanning of geographic information, In M Sebillo, G Vitiello G and G Schaefer (eds.), Visual Information Systems, Web Based Visual Information Search and Management, Visual 2008, LNCS 5188, Berlin-Heidelberg: Springer, pp. 19-30.

Swienty O, T Reichenbacher, S Reppermund S & J Zihl, (2008), The role of relevance and cognition in attention-guiding geovisualisation, The Cartographic Journal, vol. 45, pp. 227-238.

Swienty O, (2008), Attention-Guiding Geovisualisation, PhD thesis, Technical University Munich, Munich, Germany.

Swienty O, F Kurz & T Reichenbacher, (2007), Attention-guiding visualization in remote sensing IIM systems, Photogrammetrie- Fernerkundung- Geoinformation, vol. 4, pp. 239-251.

Swienty O, M Zhang, T Reichenbacher & L Meng, (2007), Establishing a neurocognition-based taxonomy of graphical variables for attention-guiding geovisualisation, Proceedings of SPIE, Geoinformatics 2007- Cartographic Theories and Models, 16 July, Nanjing, China, vol. 6751.

Reichenbacher T & O Swienty, (2007), Attention-guiding geovisualisation, CD Proceedings of AGILE 2007 International Conference on Geographic Information Science, 13-17 August Aalborg, Denmark.

Swienty O, M Zhang & T Reichenbacher, (2006), Attention Guiding Visualization of Geospatial Information, Proceedings of SPIE, Geoinformatics 2006 Geospatial Information Technology, 28-29 October, Wuhan, China, vol. 6421.

Reichenbacher T & O Swienty, (2006), Saliente Visualisierung relevanter Geoinformation, In: K Kriz, W Cartwright, A Pucher, M Kirnberger (eds.), Kartographie als Kommunikationsmedium, Wiener Schriften zur Geographie und Kartographie, vol. 17, pp. 158-165.

Reichenbacher T & O Swienty, (2006), Relevanz und Kognition in der mobilen Kartographie, Proceedings of GeoVis 2006, 5-6 April, Potsdam, Germany, pp. 83-90.

Swienty O, (2005), The Development of Explorative Geovisualisation Processes: An Approach of User-Specific Explorative Geovisualisation, CD Proceedings of ICC 2005, 9-16 July, La Coruna, Spain.