Data Visualisation

I haven’t blogged for ages. In fact I’ve barely blogged so far this unit. This is because I found myself having fun down the rabbit hole we call the internet. I set up an RSS reader for the first time and have been reading design blogs and other interesting things. So, I have things to write about.

I think we still don’t really understand what the internet is. It’s seen almost as a magazine or newspaper. The design of most web pages doesn’t really take in to account the changing sense of space online. The information visualisation potential of a web page moving from one state to another is incredible. I’m often slightly bemused by the fact that this isn’t explored further. I guess these things take time, money, research and are a nightmare to bring into standards compliance.

I’m looking at and think the projects it documents may well be on a route to answering that question. I think it could be very helpful in helping me get my head around my own data set of people’s responses to my questionnaire.

  1. New book about teenagers from Penguin
  2. An excerpt from Nicholas Feltron's annual report for 2008

    Nicholas Feltron’s name makes him sound like an old fashioned robot. He makes reports of the data of his life on an annual basis
  3. grafitti over time
  4. A nice insight into President Obama’s use of the phrase ‘We will…”
  5. Data explorations of human emotions documented in blogs

This is quite a pretty thought, as well. It’s by Jonathan Harris and Sep Camvar who also made We Feel Fine, linked above.

My head’s munching through all of these things at the moment. One thing that’s clear is that whatever I do for my final show it’ll be one small thing in a big field made by people who are much better at programming than I’ll ever be. This almost makes me think that the focus of the piece needs to be on the questions themselves more than the data visualisation that comes afterward. The visualisation has a critical requirement in that it’s useless if it doesn’t compliment the thought process.

I’m also inclined to think that the user interfaces for many of these visualisations are pretty bad. The main point seems to be to show off the emptier side of the internet. It’s a bit irritating to use as well. It just isn’t that usable. Digg have a few of these projects and they’re all kind of interesting as explorations methods of presenting the masses of information these companies inevitably have. But they’re clearly very much in development. I think the worst thing I could do is try to get too clever. Mainly, people just have to be able to read it and get the information they want out of it.

It is lovely when you see something that gives you hundreds of different ways of slicing data up and you can really interrogate it. If I see the opportunity to do that I may well do it. How would that reflect on the word all? It’s certainly an opportunity I’ll have to reflect on.

Lev Manovich offers us some ideas about the importance of data visualisation his data beautiful blog. He suggests that data representation is becoming an artistic medium of itself. This is only to be expected really. Masses of information when well presented will always tell fascinating stories. If there are people who can take data and make me think about subjects in new ways

I’m nearly finished reading Internet Art – The online clash of culture and commerce by Julian Stallabrass. He raises a good point about the constituency of the internet.

Jane Prophet, one of the makers of Technosphere 1995 which attracted many thousands of people to make virtual creatures to inhabit its virtual environment , says that its users were generally wealthy, computer-literate, international but mostly English speaking, and in part brought in by offline mass media coverage of the work.

What this means for me is clear. My audience is fairly narrow. It’s blindingly obvious really. So my data set is going to be pretty narrow as well. The finished piece will be meaningful on two levels. One in terms of the process of thinking through the answers and writing them down. The other will be as a good demonstration of a working data visualisation. The actual data itself won’t mean that much though. Is a sample’s integrity compromised in this context if that sample is limited in nature? I think maybe it isn’t. As long as I don’t pretend that sample is anything it isn’t.

I also found these php chart sites, which may come in very handy at the business end of making my graphs.

Category Art Context | Tags: ,

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