Designing Informative Art visualizations to explore invisible software processes in the web browser

University essay from KTH/Skolan för elektroteknik och datavetenskap (EECS)

Abstract: The Internet has become an essential tool for today’s’ society. With its growth over the years, it is important to ask about the influence of the internet browser on individuals and how it modifies the pace and behavior of people’s affairs. This study describes the design and development of l3-37, a custom browser whose purpose is to prompt the user to reflect on the browser’s hidden software processes and to gather valuable insights. To support this, l3-37 includes two informative art visualizations designed to encourage the user to explore the HTML Cookies and the DOM tree. The two high-fidelity prototypes were developed based on Research Through Design and Autobiographical Design methods. Additionally, to address the affordances and limits of this work, a Think Aloud study was conducted to examine how the participants reflected on the hidden data and the insights they obtained. The study discusses the insights and lessons learned from the entire process and proposes directions for designing an informative art visualization in browser-art to prompt user reflection. Informative art in the web browser proved to be able to support different levels of reflection and reveal valuable insights.

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