A philosophical perspective on visualization for digital humanities

3rd Workshop on Visualization for the Digital Humanities (2018)

Hein Van Den Berg
University of Amsterdam
Arianna Betti
University of Amsterdam
In this position paper, we describe a number of methodological and philosophical challenges that arose within our interdisciplinary Digital Humanities project CatVis, which is a collaboration between applied geometric algorithms and visualization researchers, data scientists working at OCLC, and philosophers who have a strong interest in the methodological foundations of visualization research. The challenges we describe concern aspects of one single epistemic need: that of methodologically securing (an increase in) trust in visualizations. We discuss the lack of ground truths in the (digital) humanities and argue that trust in visualizations requires that we evaluate visualizations on the basis of ground truths that humanities scholars themselves create. We further argue that trust in visualizations requires that a visualization provides provable guarantees on the faithfulness of the visual representation and that we must clearly communicate to the users which part of the visualization can be trusted and how much. Finally, we discuss transparency and accessibility in visualization research and provide measures for securing transparency and accessibility.
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