9.19 Respond To Kosara Schneiderman Fry Here

Transforming Data: Cultural Strategies in DataMining
Instructor: George Legrady
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:02 am

Re: 1. Respond To Kosara Schneiderman Fry Here

Post by rileb685 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:54 am

A key point I took away from Ben Schneiderman's "The Eyes Have It" is that data visualization's priorities are very similar to those of design in general. This is, perhaps, not a terribly stunning revelation, since data visualization, like the rest of design, is all about creating an effective and compelling visual presentation of information, but I was still struck by how many of his points seemed to have general applications-- while the seven tasks of data visualization (overview, zoom, filter, details-on-demand, relate, history, and extract) are all fairly specific to collections of data, his descriptions of the various data types of the data type taxonomies are interesting to think about in a broader design context.

In Robert Kosara's Visualization Criticism articles, I was fascinated by his discussion of what he calls "Informative Art", which seems to sit at the boundary between art and design, since in my own practice I often tend to compartmentalize my "art" and my "design" work. There's certainly a lot of cross-fertilization between skill sets-- I've occasionally incorporated illustration and drawing into my design, tools I learned for design like Adobe Illustrator found their way into my artistic works, and design skills like composition or typesetting found their way into things like my artist's books, but I'd never really considered something like the hybrid Mondrian-esque bus schedule discussed in both pieces. That the Mondrian schedule was an utter failure as a functional design is totally unsurprising: there is absolutely nothing about it to contextualize as anything rather than an uninspired knockoff of a Mondrian, let alone specifically as a bus schedule, and even if one is told it's a bus schedule, there's very little indication of how the graphic should be interpreted by a user looking for a bus. But it's a terribly intriguing experiment, all the same.

Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:08 am

Re: 9.19 Respond To Kosara Schneiderman Fry Here

Post by athenallewellyn » Mon Nov 21, 2011 12:21 pm

Ben Fry makes the important statement in his book Visualizing Data, “Great information visualization never starts from the standpoint of the data set; it starts with questions. Why was the data collected, what’s interesting about it, and what stories can it tell?” Consciousness of intention is an extremely important aspect in any process, but somehow can be overlooked. As the amount of data accumulates exponentially, I feel our intelligence; having moved from the era of memorization to an era of curation; combs through masses of information to find what is meaningful. It is a search for source and it is easily thwarted by the influx of information.
The “question provides a benchmark for what is and what is not necessary.” I was told that the hardest part of life is knowing what you want. Once you know what you want, then you can begin to search; before that it’s a blind walk through an infinite field. Data is similar to material wealth; both are intended to make one’s life easier, but often, they become burdensome and can take the place of meaning.
Shneiderman’s tasks, as explained in his article “The Eyes Have It”, “Overview first, zoom and filter, then details on demand, relate, history and extract.” Seem relevant in any query. I especially appreciate the sense of overview; to see the entire whole, examine how the parts relate, then focus in on specifics. This certainly relates back to Fry’s emphasis on knowing the question. It is understanding what is being searched for that will bring one into the process. Fry warns against showing too much information, and against acquiring too much data. Here the role of the data visualizer, is to curate information.
Robert Kosara elaborates on the parallels of data visualization to the art world in his article, “Visualization Criticism” when he emphasizes the functionality of a piece of art. Criticism is an underlying element in collaboration, and the functionality of a data visualization system is to create a sharable information system. The eventual feedback loop fostered in a shared space for sharable information holds the possibility for great education and refinement. However, in such a system of shared knowledge and experience much information is left out and therefore these refined systems can become too esoteric for general consumption. Here Fry’s question of audience becomes essential. To communicate new information to an audience is an exciting prospect, and data visualization can be a powerful educational tool.