Thursday, June 2, 2011

Misrepresentation vs. Misleading Representation of Information

In class, we discussed about the state of HCI in the next 5 years. An interesting point raised in this discussion was the involvement of HCI in healthcare industry, aviation industry and insurance industry.

In all these case availability and representation of information are critical to the business. Simply put - "you are as good as your data!". ( 'you' here refers to the companies/business). Hence, while data misrepresentation is a crime, misleading representation of data is no less a crime.

Difference between both: Data misrepresentation is erroneous/wrong representation of data. Misleading representation is an ambiguous representation that fails to convey a coherent message to all the people trying to interpret it.

1. Healthcare Industry Scenario - Diagnosis and Treatment: Imagine if health history information of a patient was incorrectly represented by the modern-display systems doctors use. It might lead to wrong diagnosis leading to wrong treatment. Loss of life is a potential risk in this case. Could misleading representation of information cause the same? Absolutely!

2. Aviation Industry Scenario: Imagine a poorly designed electronic pilot-feedback system or control system. These systems, even today, are poorly designed and unintuitive according to many people. Hence they are 'bound to fail'. Misrepresentation and misleading representation of data could have equal impact.

3. Insurance Industry Scenario: The entire risk analysis in this industry is based on statistical data and its representation. In case of large mulit-million/billion dollar policies, decisions are made by individuals based on their statistical analysis. Wrong representation or misleading representation could mean bazillions of dollars in losses. As a consequence, a huge company could potentially go out of business in a span of days.

Interesting Observation:
In spite of non-intuitive interfaces, especially in areas like airline industry, the businesses are run safely. My reasoning: I believe that humans could be trained to offset the disastrous impact of poorly designed systems.

Based on these observations, I predict that HCI would play an important role in the success of companies within the aforementioned industries.

1 comment:

  1. Makes me think of Feynman and the space shuttle O-ring analysis. Also Tufte on the same data presentation.


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