The effect of information scent on searching information: visualizations of large tree structures. (invited paper)
Focus + context information visualizations have sought to amplify human cognition by increasing the amount of information immediately available to the user. We study how the focus + context distortion of the Hyperbolic Tree browser affects information foraging behavior in a task similar to the CHI '97 Browse Off. In comparison to a more conventional browser, Hyperbolic users searched more nodes, searched at a faster rate, and showed more learning. However, the performance of the Hyperbolic was found to be highly affected by "information scent", proximal cues to the value of distal information. Strong information scent made hyperbolic search faster than with a conventional browser. Conversely, weak scent put the hyperbolic tree at a disadvantage. There appears to be two countervailing processes affecting visual attention in these displays: strong information scent expands the spotlight of attention whereas crowding of targets in the compressed region of the Hyperbolic narrows it. The results suggest design improvements.
Pirolli, P. ; Card, S. K. ; Van Der Wege, M. The effect of information scent on searching information: visualizations of large tree structures (Invited paper). Proceedings of Advanced Visual Interfaces Conference (AVI 2000); 2000 May 23-27; Palermo, Italy. NY: ACM; 2000; 161-172.