Teaching Visualization

Design Brief

Visualization does not merely "reveal" knowledge, as visualization luminary Edward Tufte has claimed. Rather, it presents a particular view of (or facilitates a particular interaction with) the underlying dataset-- one that involves assumptions and decisions about the data and their visual display. Locate a dataset and design two visualizations that call attention to different aspects of how the data were collected, organized, or otherwise structured.   

Questions for reflection

  • Do some choices about the composition of the dataset seem more difficult than others to visualize? Why do you think that is the case?
  • What are the implications of your choices in visual form (i.e. structure, shape, color, size, location, etc.)? How do those choices affect the overall interpretation of your image or interaction?
  • Should we consider visualization a neutral representational practice, or should we acknowledge how design decisions affect interpretation?

Select Articles

  1. Johanna Drucker, "Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display." Digital Humanities Quarterly 5.1 (2011).  
  2. Mushon Zer-Aviv, "If Everything is a Network, Nothing is a Network." Responsible Data Forum on Visualization. January 8th, 2016.
  3. Lauren Klein, "Timescape and Memory: Visualizing Big Data at the 9/11 Memorial Museum." Routledge Companion to Digital Humanities and Media Studies (New York: Routledge, 2016).

Notable Visualization Websites

  1. Michael Friendly, Milestones in the History of Thematic Cartography, Statistical Graphics, and Data Visualization
  2. Nathan Yau, Flowing Data
  3. Andy Kirk, Visualizing Data Blog

Notable Visualization Examples

  1. William Playfair, Commercial and Political Atlas (1786/1801)
  2. Periscopic, "U.S. Gun Deaths" (2013) 
  3. Georgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, "Dear Data" (2014)

Related DILAC / Georgia Teh Projects

  1. Lauren Klein, "Speculative Designs"
  2. Yanni Loukissas, "The Life and Death of Data"
  3. Lauren Klein, Yanni Loukissas, and Carl DiSalvo, "Humanities Data Visualization Workshop"