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IEEE VIS21: 6th Workshop on Visualization for the Digital Humanities

The Politics of Scale

This year, VIS4DH will revolve around the topic of “scale”. Visualization is often celebrated as a method to facilitate the exploration and interpretation of “big data”. But is scale a relevant yardstick to measure and characterize the challenges connected to humanities research questions? Scholars have warned about the development and focus on large-scale digital infrastructures within the humanities, suggesting that smaller datasets and lighter infrastructures could better support the needs of humanist researchers. Additionally, critical voices have pointed out the risk of reproducing assumptions about dominant cultures and groups while further marginalizing those who are less likely to be remembered. ‘Data humanism’ has been proposed to highlight the creative potential of “small data” in terms of personal impact. Choices of scale—in terms of data, tools, or teams—influence not only project outcomes but also research methods and processes. This year, we invite work around (but not limited to) the following questions:

  • Large scale approaches have been said to easily ignore context, to fetishize size and inflate their technical and scientific capabilities, which they rarely deliver. How can we mitigate these issues and effects of scale for existing large scale data infrastructures?

  • What other motivating factors should be taken into account regardless of scale? Are “volume, velocity and variety” our defining challenges, or should we deliberately shift the problem characterization in humanities projects towards data scarcity, sparsity, polysemy, uncertainty, historicity, quality, and contextuality?

  • What goes unseen when we look at massive datasets and large trends? How can information visualization techniques assist in bridging small and large scale findings?

  • How can we envision small data, small processes, small impact for visualization in the humanities?

  • What trade-offs in visibility (and in-visibility) are made when we consider different scales in projects at the intersection of visualization and the humanities research?

  • How can research at the intersection of visualization and the humanities counteract the dangers of data colonialism and of excluding marginalized positions?

We invite papers at the intersection of visualization and (digital) humanities that provide both theoretical and applied perspectives around these and other questions.

For our paper track we are seeking works from scholars in visualization, the humanities, social science, and the arts who use visualization as part of the process of analyzing and interrogating human culture. Submissions will present original research ideas or results as they relate to visualization for the digital humanities. Each submission should clearly state its specific contribution to this growing field of research.

Submission format

Submissions will take the form of short (4-6 page - excluding references) papers. Submissions are meant to describe and critically discuss works at the intersection of visualization and humanities research, including applied case studies and empirical results and/or theoretical perspectives. We welcome works that highlight the difficulties (and proposed solutions) of designing visualizations in the context of humanities research and/or applying concepts from humanities research to foster visualization research and design.

Authors of accepted papers will be invited to present their paper at the workshop as a pre-recorded video plus online discussion. All presentations will be followed by a lively discussion with workshop participants. The archiving and publication options for VIS4DH 2021 are still under development and will be detailed soon.

Submitting a paper

Paper submissions should be in PDF format following the two-column IEEE TVCG Conference Style Template (

Papers should be submitted via PCS. Submission deadline will be July 23, 2021 (5pm PST). Notifications will be sent on August 16, 2021. Deadline for submitting a video of the pre-recorded talk is on September 1, 2021.

Submissions to the Paper Tracks will be optionally double-blind. Authors wishing to submit their work double-blind should remove author information from the cover page of their submitted document, and take care to avoid identifying information in the submission itself.

July 23, 2021 12:00 am

virtual workshop

Event type: Workshop


Event type: Call for Papers