Constructing Notations

Final version of manuscript as included in John M. Carroll (Ed.),HCI Models, Theories, and Frameworks: Toward a Multidisciplinary Science
San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann (2003), pp. 103-134
Cognitive Dimensions of Notations – mentions whenpeopledecidedthatwritingwithspaceswasagoodidea.
Viscosity: resistance to change.
Visibility: ability to view components easily
Premature commitment: constraints on the order of doing things
Hidden dependencies: important links between entities are not visible
Role-expressiveness: the purpose of an entity is readily inferred
Error-proneness: the notation invites mistakes and the system gives little protection
Abstraction: types and availability of abstraction mechanisms
Secondary notation: extra information in means other than formal syntax
Closeness of mapping: closeness of representation to domain
Consistency: similar semantics are expressed in similar syntactic forms
Diffuseness: verbosity of language
Hard mental operations: high demand on cognitive resources
Provisionality: degree of commitment to actions or marks
Progressive evaluation: work-to-date can be checked at any time



Daniel L. Moody, Member, IEEE
Visual syntax – this is a design theory, called the Physics of Notations, for making effective visual notations.
1.1 The Nature of Visual Languages
Visual language is one of the oldest forms of knowledge representation and predates conventional written language by almost 25,000 years [132]. Visual notations differ from textual languages both in how they encode information and how they are processed by the human mind:
(a) Textual languages encode information using sequences of characters, while visual languages encode information using spatial arrangements of graphic (and textual) elements. Textual representations are
one-dimensional (linear) while visual representations are two-dimensional (spatial): a widely accepted definition of a diagram is a representation in which information is indexed by twodimensional location [68].
(b)Visual representations are also processed differently: according to
dual channel theory [80], the human mind has separate systems for processing pictorial and verbal material. Visual representations are processed in parallel by the visual system, while textual representations are processed serially by the auditory system [8].

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