chapter  5
16 Pages

Scientifi c Visualizations as Discourse Nexus: Transmission of Content or Context for Making Meaning?

BySHAWN M. ROWE

As a result, visualizations are everywhere, from popular television shows to magazine covers and newspapers to websites to textbooks to museum exhibits. The ubiquitous nature of visualizations coupled with increasingly accessible tools for making visualizations have created an industry of visualizing complex scientifi c phenomena for public audiences. At the same time, educators and science communicators have shifted from understanding their work as translating science to mass audiences to understanding it as making science more accessible by opening up access to its most privileged resources (i.e., data) in contexts that help publics make sense of science and engage in dialogue with scientists and policy makers. In public forums like museums, this often translates into exhibits that project visualizations of “real data” often in “near real time” on increasingly

sophisticated platforms with opportunities for varying levels of audience interaction with data and feedback to educators, curators and scientists.