su-pa at Open Doors Event - Illusion or reality?

Friday 7th march suter & partner joined the Open Doors Event at the Departement of Geography, University of Zurich. The happening was dedicated of linking students and scientists to pragmatists and  field workers. For years a lot of alumni have been spread in different professional disciplines. A huge source of knowledge and experience might get into motion, i.e. a contact and interaction platform for projects and traineeship.

We were especially attracted by the presentation of Arzu Çöltekin "Perceptual Factors in Geographic Visualization", GIVA team. In the following some impressions:

Hollow face (mask) illusion

Although we are aware of certain mechanisms of the human bodily functions, our perception is biased. There are many examples, one famous phenomena is the hollow face illusion:

Whether we are looking at the front of the mask or the concave reverse side, our brain always processes the shape, so we see a protruding face. Why does this happen?

We know from experience that faces are convex so our brain processes the image in a way that makes sense to us and matches our expectations. This tendency is so strong that it is able to override the 3D depth information provided by our stereoscopic vision. Even when we are aware that we are looking at the concave, reverse side of the mask, we cannot stop ourselves perceiving it as a convex protruding face!


Eye tracking

With this method a person's looks are recorded viewing a map. Probably or better definitely a geographer should need less time and less eye movements for understanding a map !!!

Question: Who's the geographer?


Key message

Be aware that one is inevitably bound to the human centered perspective. I intuitively think and act just as if the other person would perceive something similar to myself. That's a fallacy! Feeling at home with a smartphone’s user interface is no guarantee for easy usability. Substantial factors should be considered: context, experience, training, attitude, motivation, aversion, delight, etc. It’s crucial to get feedback from people in daily use situations (potential target audience).

Don't be trapped by yourself...

PS: We enjoyed not only the presentations, reunions and discussions but also the "Apéro riche" ;o)


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