Last week I visited the VISSOFT conference in Victoria, Canada. There I presented the paper Action-Based Visualization written by myself, Hannu-Matti Järvinen and Heikki Virtanen. The paper is related to Hannu-Matti’s ideas on implementing action-based computation on hardware, and presented a notation and semantics for drawing action-oriented diagrams of program behaviour.
Overall, most papers in the conference focused on new tools for visualizing various data, with ours as something of an outlier. The presentation I found the most interesting was the second keynote, Visualization And Human Vision: A Tale of Two Systems given by Ronald Rensink. It was a very fascinating talk about human psychology and perception: what kinds of things we see immediately, what takes attention to notice, what can be easily missed entirely. Definitely something to keep in mind when designing visualizations and presentations.
The sessions had an unusual format where after each talk only a minute or two was reserved for questions while the next speaker got ready, but all the speakers joined in a 30-minute discussion at the end of the session. I don’t think it worked quite perfectly: in some sessions the talks were rather too diverse to form a clear topic, and some people mentioned that they were hesitant to ask questions from individual speakers in what was supposedly a more general discussion. However, the discussions were a bit livelier on the second day, when the talks of a session fit better around a central theme and people had gotten more used to the format.
The trip to western Canada was pretty exhausting and didn’t leave me much energy for sightseeing, but Victoria seemed a very nice city to visit. The weather was also warm and pleasant, with the exception of an unexpected short rainstorm on the second day of the conference.