Evidence – How do we know what we know

Science is an active process of observation and investigation.
Evidence: How Do We Know What We Know? examines that process, revealing the ways in which ideas and information become knowledge and understanding.

Concept

The Flash Application My Evidence by Exploratorium, Museum of science art and human perception, explores and then visualizes the way we get to know what we know. The user is asked to answer questions about facts that are hard for the individual to experience by himself. For example “Humans cause global warming” is a theory believed by many people but quite hard to proof by one individual. Going further it’s nearly impossible for the individual to know such things if it’s on its own. The answers to these questions range from “I noticed or experienced” to “I heard on TV or radio”. Further attributes of an answer are the place where someone learned it, the person’s gender or age and how much the author refutes or supports the stated fact.

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Visualization

The most important part is the visualization of the statements. They are represented as circles or rings, depending on support or refute of the author. The color indicates the source of the knowlege. By hovering over an object it reveals the author’s comment on the statement.

The objects move around and bounce off each other, similar to the great visualization of we feel fine from Jonathan Harris and Seb Kamvar.

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Interaction

There are two interfaces to explore the data.

  • The Filter tool does exactly what you would expect. You can filter out statements with certain attributes to get more information of a subset of the data. The Cluster tool groups statements together based on your selection.
  • The cluster gets created rather in a loose manner. The interaction model supports the playful approach of the visualization and forfeits some of the precision of the visualization.

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We think it’s a clever application with a focus on playful interaction which could be beneficial to gather a relevant amount of data. And we’re looking forward to the outcome of these crowd-sourced investigations.

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