On Metaphor in Text Visualization Prototypes

The content of this presentation develops from previous research and writing on the “Glass Cast,” a prototype for mapping and visualizing complex knowledge networks in which time is crucial, and on “PlotVis,” an interactive visualization resource for displaying XML-encoded fictional narratives that departs from ways of modeling narrative typical of literary pedagogy (see, e.g., Dobson, Michura, Ruecker, Brown, and Rodriguez 2011). Digital humanities scholars (e.g. Zepel 2013) have argued that by thinking about visualization as a tool, we can gain insight into visualization’s purpose in DH scholarship, particularly as a form of “visual thinking.” This perspective on visualization informs the approach we adopt in this presentation. Specifically, we describe aspects of the development of two visualization prototypes, offering a detailed overview of how these prototypes work. We also theorize visualization in terms of the concept of metaphor, examining the implications for visualization of the metaphors implicit of the respective structures of our experimental prototypes. How does metaphor shape and perhaps even constrain perceptions of the purpose of the two visualization prototypes we discuss? In attending to questions of metaphor and visualization, we contribute to the ongoing theorization of the role of visualization, broadly conceived, in digital humanities scholarship.

The full text of this conference can be found here.

Peña, E., & Dobson, T. (2014). On Metaphor in Text Visualization Prototypes. Presented at the Digital Humanities, Lausanne, Switzerland.