Uncertainty and visualization in volcanic ash forecasting

volcanic ash uncertainty survey

Alison Black and Matthew Lickiss accompanied colleagues Kelsey Mulder, Andrew Charlton-Perez and Rachel McCloy, from the University of Reading’s Meteorology and Psychology Departments to a workshop on Volcanic Ash Forecasting at the Royal Academy of Engineering. This was part of CIDR’s collaboration on a multidisciplinary research project, RACER, on the communication of the risk and and uncertainty of extreme weather events.

Those who remember the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010 might imagine that both government and the airline industry are keen to have better tools to measure and predict the presence of ash in order to safely manage the impact of future eruptions on air travel.

During the workshop we ran a small study (see illustration), looking at professionals’ responses to some of the different representations of volcanic ash distribution that are available currently. Some of the data from this study are to be presented at the European Geosciences Union 2016 General Assembly in April.

More details of the workshop’s findings can be found here.

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Reading to do: 18th–20th century with Professor Michael Twyman

Following the video posted last week, we have now uploaded a recording from another session of the Reading to do workshop hosted by CIDR in October 2015 (more information here). As part of the workshop, Professor Michael Twyman led a session showing the historical development of ‘reading to do’ in the 18th–20th centuries. This video is an abridged recording of the session, focusing on the key points of discussion and main examples shown. The talk made extensive use of collections based materials, including a range of tables, handbooks, guidebooks, and catalogues, demonstrating the rich evolution of printed informative text. An additional PDF to accompany the video can be downloaded here, providing higher quality images of some of the main documents shown in the talk.

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Reading to do: everyday experiences

In October last year CIDR hosted an EU funded workshop, Reading to do. As an introduction to the workshop, each participant brought along examples of printed and electronic documents they had used recently in order to carry out a task or make a decision. This video presents an edited version of participants’ presentations of their documents. The presentations highlight some of the pleasures and frustrations of using information that is provided to support people in everyday tasks.

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The secret life of wayfinding

Cape sign post 1

The lighter side of wayfinding at Cape Point

Andrew Barker will be talking tomorrow at the Sign Design Society. Andrew, who is a book and information designer, is in the final stages of his postgraduate research in the Department of Typography at Reading. His research examines the different processes of navigation in books, on screen and in the 3-dimensional world. He has run a series of studies looking at people’s wayfinding strategies which he will draw on for his talk. It appears not everyone is as responsive to signs as their designers might wish.

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Face Forward in Dublin

Grangegorman Dublin

The Face Forward conference on typography was held at the beautiful campus of the Institute of Technology in Dublin over two days last week. CIDR member Keith Tam presented his work on Chinese–English bilingual document design. Keith gave an overview of the issues at hand when designing bilingual documents for selective (as opposed to continuous, narrative) reading. He then went on to discuss his studies investigating how people use different spatial patterns of bilingual documents and introduced a study he is planning currently to examine how monolingual and bilingual readers search for information in bilingual documents.

(Keith’s followers on Facebook will know of his striking photos of the University of Reading campus. Now extended, above, to the Dublin Institute of Technology Grangegorman campus.)

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Information design for health: exhibiting history, theory and practice

Health info exhibition small

The launch of the University’s Health Research theme yesterday provided an opportunity for CIDR to exhibit two aspects of its work
– historical materials, held in the Otto and Marie Neurath Isotype Collection, showing public health communications, prepared in the 1940s for the American TB Association, to explain the prevention and treatment of TB
– current research projects in information design for health care, ranging from public information to reduce medicines waste, through care bundles to support clinical staff’s detection and treatment of acute kidney injury, to building dementia carers’ understanding of and involvement in the care of relatives with dementia. Some extracts from the exhibition are shown below.

Medicines waste

Information design to reduce medicines waste, with Southampton City CCG, funded by Oxford and Wessex Academic Health Sciences Networks

AKI board

Information design to increase uptake of Royal Berkshire Hospital’s acute kidney injury care bundle, funded by Thames Valley Strategic Clinical Network

Our thanks are due to all our collaborators in health care organisations and our funders for the opportunities to engage in projects which both move on understanding of information design for health care and have practical benefits for the people who use the designed project outputs.


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Welcome to Matthew Lickiss

Matthew name 3

Welcome to Matthew, our new CIDR research and administration assistant. He is currently completing a PhD in document theory, following his MA and BA in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication. His main focus will be working as an information designer on an interdisciplinary project, RACER, in which CIDR is collaborating with University of Reading’s Meteorology and Psychology Departments. RACER stands for Robust Assessment and Communication of Environmental Risk. The project is funded by NERC and Matthew’s work will focus on the communication of risk and uncertainty to professionals, such as those in the insurance industry, making planning and business decisions that depend on climate and weather.

Matthew’s arrival coincides with the departure of Josefina BravoBurnier who, although leaving her CIDR post, stays on to start her PhD on the public communication of information about flooding. Now well into her first term wish her all the best for her three years of research.

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‘Reading to do’ workshop


From left to right, Ann Marcus Quinn, Keith Tam, Sue Walker, Theresa Schilhab and Maarten Renckens work together to extract common themes from the sample documents discussed.












Welcome to visitors Ann Bessemans, Kevin Bormans and Maarten Renckens, from PXL, Belgium, Ann Marcus Quinn from the Department of Technical Communication, University of Limerick, Ireland, Theresa Schilhab from the Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, Denmark and Matthew Hayler, from University of Birmingham’s English Department, as well as Rebecca Bullard and Paddy Bullard from University of Reading’s English Department. They are joining our ‘home team’ at Centre for Information Design Research for an EU funded workshop Reading to do which examines the differing experiences of carrying out tasks using paper and electronic documents. Our first day started with a show and tell of documents participants had selected as interesting examples of reading to do, from instructions on changing a skateboard truck, through on-line passport applications, to advice on training fearful dogs. The topic list alone reinforces the wide scope of the workshop topic and the importance of information design in people’s everyday work and leisure tasks.

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Our research reaching a professional audience

These documents show some of the resources Jeanne-Louise has developed for systematically testing readers’ impressions of typographic layout.

Some of the resources developed by Jeanne-Louise Moys for systematically testing readers’ impressions of typographic layout

Jeanne-Louise Moys’s doctoral research features in Design Week’s recent post on ‘Searching for new perspectives in typography’. Design writer Rick Poyner highlights some of Jeanne-Louise’s early findings and their implications for typographic research and practice. When Jeanne-Louise started her research there was a substantial body of studies looking at how choice of typeface – and typeface ‘personality’ – affected people’s perceptions of documents. In her Phd (completed in 2012) Jeanne-Louise looked at a much wider range of typographic variables than just choice of typeface; for example, how much variation there was in type size or style within a page. She found such variables influenced people’s perceptions in quite systematic ways. Rick suggests that more research is needed to extend the application of Jeanne-Louise’s work to different typographic materials. That’s underway, with Jeanne-Louise’s further research already published in Visible Language and other projects by CIDR researchers well on their way to publication.

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New crop of MA Information Design students

This year we welcome seven new students to the MA Information Design programme. They are from all over the world: Arun Rajendran from India, Julia Castillo from Uruguay, May Chiang from Singapore, Wiktor Gawron from Poland, Abby Legge from the United States, Evelyn Nuñez Alayo from Peru, and Nora Stang from Norway. We are also joined by returning part-time student Hannah Matthews (UK) and MA Research student Darryl Lim (Singapore). Last week we had a welcome drinks and social where students from all four MA programmes mingled. This Tuesday we kicked off the term with a lively discussion of the role and responsibilities of an information designer, and a framework for evaluating information design. We look forward to exciting projects and research from this group of enthusiastic students.

ma_seminar_2ma_seminar_1 ma_social

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