Laura Koesten from the Faculty of Computer Sciences at the University of Vienna leads the Talking Charts project.

Description: Visualizations cannot talk. But they still have a language of their own. They are everyday tools for communicating data, both within science and popular media. Urgent messages with immediate effects on public life are often communicated via charts or diagrams. It is not clear whether public interpretations of these visualizations match the messages their creators aim to convey. The same is true for data visualizations in science; it is not a given that experts will interpret them the way they are intended.

Bringing together perspectives from Computer Science and Science & Technology Studies, Talking Charts is a 3-year project which explores how charts related to climate change and COVID-19 are created and understood. The project Talking Charts uses an interdisciplinary, mixed-methods approach to focus on visualizations in popular science news sources as well as in scholarly communication to answer the questions: How do visualization producers create, and consumers understand, the messages carried in visualizations? How do consumers of data visualizations come to trust or to distrust, to act on or to ignore them?

To answer these questions, Laura Koesten and her team combine expertise in relevant areas of Computer Science, such as Data Visualization and Human Computer Interaction, with expertise in Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Information Science.

Collaborators: Kathleen Gregory, Torsten Möller, Sarah Davies, Regina Schuster, Christian Knoll (University of Vienna), Sebastian Tschiatschek (Interpretability and Explainability as Drivers to Democracy), Research Platform The Challenge of Urban Futures, CMESS, Dwh GmbH, Future Operations Platform

Duration: 3 years (01.11.2021 – 01.11.2024)