Manuela Garretón Information Visualization

Manuela is a professor at the School of Design at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and a PhD student at the Department of Computer Science at the same University. Her research interests include visualization in the context of data journalism, public policy, urbanism, neuroscience and subjective wellbeing.

Manuela received a master’s degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Programme at New York University. She has worked on a variety of data visualization projects for different contexts, from data journalism to interactive installations. She is currently part of the data visualization applied research lab at the UC School of Design. She is also part of the interdisciplinary research and creation platform – Sociedad Diseño y Tecnología (SDT), which observes the social implications of design and technologies in contemporary society.

Projects Contributions

Publications Published Works

Data Stories of Water: Studying the Communicative Role of Data Visualizations within Long-form Journalism

— Computer Graphics Forum (Proc. EuroVis). 42(3), 2023
We present a methodology for making sense of the communicative role of data visualizations in journalistic storytelling and share findings from surveying water-related data stories. Data stories are a genre of long-form journalism that integrate text, data visualization, and other visual expressions (e.g., photographs, illustrations, videos) for the purpose of data-driven storytelling. In the last decade, a considerable number of data stories about a wide range of topics have been published worldwide. Authors use a variety of techniques to make complex phenomena comprehensible and use visualizations as communicative devices that shape the understanding of a given topic. Despite the popularity of data stories, we, as scholars, still lack a methodological framework for assessing the communicative role of visualizations in data stories. To this extent, we draw from data journalism, visual culture, and multimodality studies to propose an interpretative framework in six stages. The process begins with the analysis of content blocks and framing elements and ends with the identification of dimensions, patterns, and relationships between textual and visual elements. The framework is put to the test by analyzing 17 data stories about water-related issues. Our observations from the survey illustrate how data visualizations can shape the framing of complex topics.

Attitudinal effects of data visualizations and illustrations in data stories

— IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 2023

Journalism has become more data-driven and inherently visual in recent years. Photographs, illustrations, infographics, data visualizations, and general images help convey complex topics to a wide audience. The way that visual artifacts influence how readers form an opinion beyond the text is an important issue to research, but there are few works about this topic. In this context, we research the persuasive, emotional and memorable dimensions of data visualizations and illustrations in journalistic storytelling for long-form articles. We conducted a user study and compared the effects which data visualizations and illustrations have on changing attitude towards a presented topic. While visual representations are usually studied along one dimension, in this experimental study, we explore the effects on readers’ attitudes along three: persuasion, emotion, and information retention. By comparing different versions of the same article, we observe how attitudes differ based on the visual stimuli present, and how they are perceived when combined. Results indicate that the narrative using only data visualization elicits a stronger emotional impact than illustration-only visual support, as well as a significant change in the initial attitude about the topic. Our findings contribute to a growing body of literature on how visual artifacts may be used to inform and influence public opinion and debate. We present ideas for future work to generalize the results beyond the domain studied, the water crisis.