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?
- Johanna Drucker, "Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display." Digital Humanities Quarterly 5.1 (2011).
- Mushon Zer-Aviv, "If Everything is a Network, Nothing is a Network." Responsible Data Forum on Visualization. January 8th, 2016.
- 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
- Michael Friendly, Milestones in the History of Thematic Cartography, Statistical Graphics, and Data Visualization
- Nathan Yau, Flowing Data
- Andy Kirk, Visualizing Data Blog
Notable Visualization Examples
- William Playfair, Commercial and Political Atlas (1786/1801)
- Periscopic, "U.S. Gun Deaths" (2013)
- Georgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, "Dear Data" (2014)