A user-centered Perspective on Interactive Data Visualization. A digital flâneries into the documentation of the Historical Italian Mind Science Archive
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The data visualization debate is often polarized between the two dominant position of communication design and data science. A human-cen- tered approach can introduce a third perspective putting people who'll use the information in a prominent role in the design process. According to user re- search methods, user personas and task-based testing, and co-design activities, the paper presents a case study developed for the Historical Italian Mind Sci- ence Archive (Aspi). The project has been focused on the experience of the users when surfing the hierarchicalstructure of the Aspi website looking for biograph- ical information about the protagonists or searching for primary and original documents – such as correspondence, writings, notes – inside the digitized ar- chives and their inventory. Interactive data visualization, on one hand, and hu- man-centered design, on the other, are the two drivers chosen to make links ad connections – otherwise embedded in the historical knowledge of experts in the field – explicit or, better to say, visible. The results are different concep- tual and visual displays of the archives and curated contents of the website of- fering dynamic and interactive insights according to three different selected cri- teria: time, space, people. Activities of expert walk-through and user-testing, used in the research phase of the process have been used to evaluate the final results to understand and assess the overall experience of users and to validate the initial design hypothesis to extend the approach beyond the proposed case study.