Seminar: Good for Scientists, Bad for Society: What happens when our charts don't change minds?

Oct. 5, 2023

1:00 – 2:00 pm MDT

Mesa Lab Main Seminar Room and Virtual

Speaker: Evan Peck, University of Colorado Boulder



Data communication has fallen short in promoting behavior change at a scale needed to confront societal challenges, whether it is encouraging vaccination or demonstrating the urgency of climate change. In this talk, I’ll trace how my focus in information visualization has shifted to address the socio-technical nature of these problems, from running large-scale evaluation studies to conducting interviews exploring the perceptions of data in rural Pennsylvania. Today, my work explores how we can design visualizations to meet communities where they are now, and examines how our implicit beliefs about their location, access to technology, and experiences undermine our collective ability to respond to data. To move towards this goal, I’ll share studies suggesting that we need a new framing of human-data interaction - one that creates friction with visualization’s historic emphasis on efficiency, universality, and objectivity.


Evan Peck is an Associate Professor of Information Science at CU Boulder ( Evan’s research spans Information Visualization and Human-Computer Interaction, and focuses on reimagining the processes and tools we use to share data with more diverse communities. Prior to CU, Evan was an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Bucknell University (2014-2023), Visiting Scientist at MIT (2021-2022), and received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Tufts University (2014).


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