The Public Life of Data: Investigating Reactions to Visualizations on Reddit

03/15/2021 ∙ by Tobias Kauer, et al. ∙ 0

This research investigates how people engage with data visualizations when commenting on the social platform Reddit. There has been considerable research on collaborative sensemaking with visualizations and the personal relation of people with data. Yet, little is known about how public audiences without specific expertise and shared incentives openly express their thoughts, feelings, and insights in response to data visualizations. Motivated by the extensive social exchange around visualizations in online communities, this research examines characteristics and motivations of people's reactions to posts featuring visualizations. Following a Grounded Theory approach, we study 475 reactions from the /r/dataisbeautiful community, identify ten distinguishable reaction types, and consider their contribution to the discourse. A follow-up survey with 168 Reddit users clarified their intentions to react. Our results help understand the role of personal perspectives on data and inform future interfaces that integrate audience reactions into visualizations to foster a public discourse about data.

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