What is Interaction for Data Visualization?

Interaction is fundamental to data visualization, but what “interaction” means in the context of visualization is ambiguous and confusing. We argue that this confusion is due to a lack of consensual definition. To tackle this problem, we start by synthesizing an inclusive view of interaction in the visualization community – including insights from information visualization, visual analytics and scientific visualization, as well as the input of both senior and junior visualization researchers. Once this view takes shape, we look at how interaction is defined in the field of human-computer interaction (HCI). By extracting commonalities and differences between the views of interaction in visualization and in HCI, we synthesize a definition of interaction for visualization. Our definition is meant to be a thinking tool and inspire novel and bolder interaction design practices. We hope that by better understanding what interaction in visualization is and what it can be, we will enrich the quality of interaction in visualization systems and empower those who use them.

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