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The Jordan Aha! Test for Visualizations

by Sharon Jordan 24 Mar, 2010 in Technology


The Jordan Aha! Test for Visualizations

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Such is the justification and hope for visualizations.  Examples of enlightening visualizations are structural models of molecules like the carbon-60 Bucky Ball used in OSTI’s recent YouTube video.  The model shows a carbon atom at each intersection of molecular bonds. 

Another example of an enlightening visualization is Charles Joseph Minard’s famous graph showing the decreasing size of Napoleon’s army as it marches to Moscow and back with the size of the army equal to the width of the line.

Visualizations are often beautiful, but to be useful they must also convey a message.   At OSTI, we have adopted what has come to be called the Jordan Aha! Test as a metric of success for visualizations.  The concept is that a visualization is useful if the observer is informed by it so that she can exclaim “Aha!” 

Our experience at OSTI suggests that crafting a visualization that passes the Jordan Aha! Test is often surprisingly challenging.

Sharon Jordan


Related Topics: OSTI Youtube Channel, videos, visualizations, youtube


It's been a big summer for sharing science info--and it's still only June!


It's been a big summer for sharing science info--and it's still only June!

Did you know:

  • That now you can find research from China when you search within  OSTI was in Ottawa June 10 helping formalize the addition of China to the WorldWideScience Alliance? In addition, now you can quickly narrow your results list to the research you need, share them on social networking sites, bookmark your search, and set up alerts.
  • That now you can learn about OSTI tools and services on our OSTI YouTube site launched in June?
  • That you can Adopt-A-Doc? OSTI launched a new site for this tool in June that puts you in the driver's seat for helping make important research available online.
  • That you can now more easily navigate and find exciting scientific discoveries, search tools, and science information of interest to you by using OSTI's redesigned home page (launched June 10).
  • That from June 14 to June 17, close to 6,000 librarians and participants in the Special Librarian Associations 2009 Conference in Washington DC were afforded the opportunity to learn about OSTI's special librarian tools, and search engines just for science - DOE Science Accelerator (DOE collections), (U.S. sources), and (global sources)? OSTI supported two displays at the SLA exhibit.
  • That OSTI has developed a strategic plan for making the web work better for science?


And did you know that now you can more easily let us know what you think about our...

Related Topics: Adopt-A-Doc, OSTI Youtube Channel, Science Accelerator,, SciTech Connect, youtube