A Typology of Guidance Tasks in Mixed-Initiative Visual Analytics Environments

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Guidance has been proposed as a conceptual framework to understand how mixed-initiative visual analytics approaches can actively support users as they solve analytical tasks. While user tasks received a fair share of attention, it is still not completely clear how they could be supported with guidance and how such support could influence the progress of the task itself. Our observation is that there is a research gap in understanding the effect of guidance on the analytical discourse, in particular, for the knowledge generation in mixed-initiative approaches. As a consequence, guidance in a visual analytics environment is usually indistinguishable from common visualization features, making user responses challenging to predict and measure. To address these issues, we take a system perspective to propose the notion of guidance tasks and we present it as a typology closely aligned to established user task typologies. We derived the proposed typology directly from a model of guidance in the knowledge generation process and illustrate its implications for guidance design. By discussing three case studies, we show how our typology can be applied to analyze existing guidance systems. We argue that without a clear consideration of the system perspective, the analysis of tasks in mixed-initiative approaches is incomplete. Finally, by analyzing matchings of user and guidance tasks, we describe how guidance tasks could either help the user conclude the analysis or change its course.

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