Visual representation (Alan Blackwell's research theme)

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Wiki page summarising research by Alan Blackwell with students and collaborators

Recent publications on this topic can be found at:

I only have one big research question, but I attack it from a lot of different angles. The question is representation. How do people make, see and use things that carry meaning? The angles from which I attack my question include various ways in which representations are applied (including design processes, interacting with technology, computer programming, visualisation), various methods by which I collect research data (including controlled experiments, prototype construction, ethnographic observation), and the theoretical perspectives of various academic disciplines (including computer science, cognitive psychology, engineering, architecture, music, anthropology).

My PhD thesis on Metaphor in Diagrams, and its sequel - a critical study of the Reification of Metaphor in HCI, have been core areas of attention in the past.

I have a well-established approach to the analysis of visual languages and notations, building on Yuri Engelhardt's synoptic work on visual language, and Thomas Green's Cognitive Dimensions of Notations framework.

The latest integration of these approaches, described as Patterns of User Experience, will be published in Clive Richards' new collection on The Elements of Diagramming.

My original research focus was on cognitive theories of representation (supervised by Thomas Green), and I helped create research communities around Thinking with Diagrams, and then the international joint conference on Diagrams.

An early cross-disciplinary initiative in Cambridge was the Cross-disciplinary diagrams group.

Students, visitors, collaborators and co-advisees include: