Questions Facing Map Design in the Age of Mobility and Siri

Questions Facing Map Design in the Age of Mobility and Siri

Discussion of maps on mobile devices, their use in the decision making process, and the role of uncertainty in those decisions. Presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS).


Ryan S Mullins

October 10, 2013


  1. 1.

    Questions Facing Map Design in the Age of Mobility and

    Siri Ryan S Mullins GeoVISTA Center Department of Geography The Pennsylvania State University Thursday, October 10, 13
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    Driving Questions • What is a mobile user? • What

    is a mobile device? • What roles do maps play on mobile devices? • What kind of decisions are made using mobile maps? • How is uncertainty understood in the decision making process? • How can uncertainty be mitigated? • How do we know if mitigation strategies work? Thursday, October 10, 13
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    What is a Mobile User? • Simple definition: anyone using

    a mobile device Data reported Feb 2012. • Demographics • Any age • Any ethnicity • Any education level • Any income level Thursday, October 10, 13
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    What is a Mobile Device? • Computing system that... •

    Easily transported • Held in the hand • Physically small • Access to various data networks • Power to last all day • Multi-modal interaction Thursday, October 10, 13
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    What is a Mobile Device? • Smart phones • Tablets

    • eReaders Thursday, October 10, 13
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    Role of Mobile Maps • Way finding and navigation •

    Destination and route planning • Location sharing via social media (i.e. FourSquare, Facebook, Yelp) • Taking and viewing pictures or other geo- referenced data • All of these tasks can be related to... Thursday, October 10, 13
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    Decisions • Maps are used to support decisions about... •

    Where to visit/eat/stay • Which way to go • Where to tell others to go, meet, etc. • Which mode of travel to use • All decisions have some... Thursday, October 10, 13
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    Uncertainty in Decisions • Data • Error, accuracy, precision, etc.[1,2]

    • Interpretation of visuals • Perceived meaning[3], ambiguity/vagueness, context • Prior Knowledge • Career[4], initial/prior solutions[4], subjective valuation of information[5,6] [1] MacEachren, A. M. (1992) Visualizing uncertain information. Cartographic Perspectives. 13. 10-19. [2] MacEachren, A.M. (1994) SOME truth with maps: A primer on symbolization and design. Association of American Geographers, Washington, D. C. [3] MacEachren, A.M. (1995) How Maps Work: Representation, Visualization, and Design. Guilford Press. [4] Kobus, D., S. Proctor, and Holste. S. (2001) Effects of experience and uncertainty during dynamic decision making. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics 28. 275-290. [5] Reece, W., and Matthews, L. (1993) Evidence and uncertainty in subjective prediction: Influences on optimistic judgment. Psychological Reports 2(72). 435-439. [6] Cohen, B. L., and Wallsten, T. S. (1992) The effect of constant outcome value on judgments and decision making given linguistic probabilities. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 1(5). 53 Thursday, October 10, 13
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    Mitigating Uncertainty • Common, data driven, strategies[1] • Presenting good

    aspects of certainty (accuracy/precision focus) • Presenting bad aspects of uncertainty (error focus) • Design symbology to convey uncertainty[2,3] • Design interaction to provide access to uncertainty[4,5] • More work can be done here... [1] Buttenfield, B. P. (1993) Representing data quality. Cartographica (special content, Mapping Data Quality). 30(2&3). 1-7. [2] Pang, A. (2001) Visualizing uncertainty in geo-spatial data. In: Proceedings of the Workshop on the Intersections between Geospatial Information and Information Technology. National Academies Committee of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, Washington, D.C. [3] Wittenbrink, C.M., Saxon, E.., Furman, J.J., Pang, A., and Lodha, S. (1995) Glyphs for visualizing uncertainty in environmental vector fields. IEEE Translations on Visualization and Computer Graphics. 2(3). 266-79. [4] Fisher, P. (1993) Visualizing uncertainty in soil maps by animation. Cartographica. 30(2+3). 20-27. [5] Howard, D., and MacEachren., A.M.(1996) Interface design for geographic visualization: Tools for representing reliability. Cartography and Geographic Information Systems. 23(2). 59-77. Thursday, October 10, 13
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    Limiting Scope • Focus on Interpretation • Specifically on ambiguity

    in visual depictions • Restricting to point symbols • Many decisions relate to point features • Three entry vectors • Type of phenomenon • Attributes • Location Thursday, October 10, 13
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    Ambiguity – Point Symbols – Mobile • Ambiguity of visual

    depiction driven by physical aspects of device • Smaller screen → more generalization • Smaller screen → fewer/smaller symbols • Lower resolution → more aliasing/pixelation • Benefit of mobile: real-time verification using environment Thursday, October 10, 13
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    Evaluating Point Symbols • Long history of evaluating point symbols

    • Tourist maps[1,2] • Digital displays[3] • Application domain[4,5] • Limited evaluations on mobile devices [1] Forrest, D. and Castner, H.W. (1985) The design and perception of point symbols for tourist maps. The Cartographic Journal. 22. 11-19. [2] Clarke, L.M. (1989) An experimental investigation of the communicative efficiency of point symbols on tourist maps. The Cartographic Journal. 26. 105-110. [3] Morrison, C. and Forrest, D. (1995) A study of point symbol design for computer based large scale tourist mapping. The Cartographic Journal. 32. 126-136. [4] Akella, M.K. (2009) First Responders and Crisis Map Symbols: Clarifying Communication. Cartography and Geographic Information Science. 36. 19-28. [5] Bianchetti, R.A., Wallgrün, J.O., Yang, J., Blanford, J.I., Robinson, A.C., and Klippel, A. (2012) Free classification of Canadian and American emergency management map symbol standards. The Cartographic Journal. 49(4). 350-360. Thursday, October 10, 13
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    Evaluating Symbols on Mobile Devices • Creating an evaluation tool

    for mobile devices • Design and run user studies on mobile devices • Define user study as series of tasks • Tasks test for different interpretation problems • Record/report results to researchers/designers • Automated bias correction • Free and open source Thursday, October 10, 13
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    Future Work • Evaluating multi-modal interfaces • Transitions between modes

    • Visual cues indicating interaction type • Relationship to accessibility Thursday, October 10, 13