Working with or next to each other? Boundary crossing in the field of information visualisation

Gerard Smit, Yael de Haan, Laura Buijs


Due to the need to present information in a fast and attractive way, organizations are eager to use information visualisations. This study explores the collision between the different experts involved in the production of these visualisations using the model of trading zones supplemented with the learning mechanisms found in the boundary crossing literature. Results show that that there is not one good solution to effective interdisciplinary cooperation in the field of information visualisation. All four types of cooperation that we distinguish – enforced, dominated, fractionated, and attuned – might work well, as long as they are adapted to the situation.  In any case the involved experts and initiators have to understand and incorporate approaches that enhance the co-creative, iterative nature of the production process. Overlooking the different forms of collaboration we detect two major forms of trading zones: the one that encompasses the collaboration between an external client and a designer (external trading zone) and the trading zones within an organization between content producer and designer (internal trading zone). Both mechanisms of identifying each other’s expertise and coordinating the different tasks in the production process seem beneficial for the production process.


Data visualisation, infographics, information visualisation, multi-skilled journalists, newsroom studies

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