Finding Arcadia is a prototype developed by researchers at the Interactive Technologies Institute (ITI-LARSyS), Instituto Superior Técnico, with the purpose of improving interaction with, and communication about, climate change data. This project focuses on the importance of oceans and marine ecosystems for global climate and CO2 capture, with a special focus on whales as an integral part of that ecosystem.

This public experience is composed of a touch screen display, where the audience engages with an interactive data story related to the oceans. Storytelling, visual communication and data visualisations are explored in a symbiotic narration of the data. A tangible component to the installation allows for further consolidation of the information, after the interaction with the digital story.

The purpose of the study is to test data humanism, as proposed by information designer Giorgia Lupi, applied to human-computer interaction (HCI). We are testing this approach through the use of personalised and contextualised data visualisations to communicate climate data in a positive and action-focused manner. Recent research advocates for a focus on solutions, action, stories and particular communities when engaging audiences with climate change information. This project intends to advance the discussion on this new stage of climate engagement, and suggest proposals for future interactions with complex, and oftentimes negative, climate change data.

We have tested our prototype in-the-wild in two different contexts: a major science museum during the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, and in a local food market. These locations represented very different contexts and audiences. Results from these tests have been submitted for publication.

Photos of the prototype deployment in the science museum and food market.

Deployment of the prototype in the science museum (pilot study) and local market (main study).

UI screens of the prototype

UI design – example of screens of the prototype presenting a data-story around Baltazar – the Blue Whale.

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