By Pete Loucks
When computer technology became available for developing and using graphics interfaces for interactive decision support systems, some of us got excited about the potential of directly involving stakeholders in the modeling and analyses of various water resource systems. Many of us believed that generating pictures that could show the impact of various design and management decisions or assumptions any user might want to make would give them a better understanding of the system being modeled and how they might improve its performance.
We even got fancy with respect performing sensitivity analyses and displaying uncertainty. Our displays were clear, understandable, and colorful. Sometimes we witnessed users even believing what they were seeing. We occasionally had to remind users that our models were, and would continue to be, approximations of reality, at best. It was fun developing and using such tools, and indeed today most models that are used to analyze river basins, groundwater, and coastal zones incorporate interactive, graphics-based, decision support frameworks.