Author: carricksandpeas

Wysocki

This article does a great job of highlighting the minute details of design that many of us overlook. The main focus of the introduction to the Wysocki article is the Peek advertisement that was presented in a publication of The New Yorker. Wysocki analyzes the advertisement in terms visual design and its affects on the way that we see beauty. Wysocki begins the analysis of the advertisement by relating it to the four principles of design. As viewers, our eye is immediately drawn to the behind of the woman in the advertisement because of the black and white contrast, the proximity of all the elements of the advertisement, the repetition of the size of elements, and the ways in which the elements are oriented within the frame.

But, Wysocki takes the analysis one step further by pulling in Arnheim’s principle. According to Wysocki on page 155, “Arnheim uses our bodily experiences of moving over the earth to shape principles for analyzing and creating visual compositions.” In the second portion of the document Wysocki argues that the way in which we perceive design is influenced by our surroundings. For example, when we see objects at the center of a work of art we perceive the objects as more powerful than those positioned below the horizon line. Objects carry weight depending on where they are positioned in a work of art. Not only is our perception influenced by our surroundings, but it also influenced by our childhood. Certain images bring about memories of our maternal past, and because of this we see them as being very comforting.

Wysocki’s article really hit home. This advertisement can go in two directions. In the one, you could argue that certain design elements make the advertisement and woman appear beautiful because the blurring of the woman’s body and the alterations made make the body look less of a body and more of an objective form. But, therein lies the second direction the advertisement takes: objectivity of the woman’s body itself. This advertisement was uncomfortable for me. When you read the peek advertisement, you quickly learn that the image they chose was quite fitting. However, the advertisement as Wysocki points out, is the perfect example of the objectification of women. When women’s bodies are no longer seen as human and are looked at more as objects this becomes a problem. Seeing women as objects has created the desire to perfect their bodies and free them of any fault rather than to appreciate their true beauty. I would also argue that this same issue can be said not only about objectification of human bodies, but also different cultures and ethnicities. Once you begin to see someone as an object and not as a human, you begin to dehumanize and devalue others.

Do you think there truly is a way to format an image of a woman that doesn’t objectify? And, if perception of images is influenced by our own individual upbringings, how do we begin a global conversation about reversing the issue? 121415-serena-williams-sports-illustrated-cover-e1450106874726.jpg

This is a magazine article that was the basis of discussion in one of my previous courses. I find it very fitting with the conversation of class today. This image shows not only power, but also falls victim to what some would call “the male gaze.”

Advertisements

The Power of YouTube

**How fitting an article to read as the fate of our country will be determined by the outcome of the election…tomorrow!**

This article offers a different perspective on the power of YouTube and the effects (both good and bad) of video parody. In the 2008 election, a time that seems an eternity ago, CNN allowed the public to submit questions for the Democratic GOP debate. A genius idea, right? The idea, well-intentioned by the news broadcast, fueled debate. One of the questions submitted and shown during the election, The Snowman Video, used parody and satire to ask candidates their stance on global warming. After the video was shown, many asked the question “Why was the video shown in the first place? And, more specifically, what happened behind the closed doors?” Romney was not a fan. And, I must admit (political differences aside) I somewhat agree with him. The political debates, for both the democratic and republican candidates, are extremely important. The public wants to hear how their candidate of choice could better the nation, and ensure the safety and well-being of all. Allowing an animated video to be shown at a debate lightens the mood of an event that should be anything but funny.

The article further goes on to mention that younger generations are more influenced than ever before by video parody. Millennials as a whole receive more news through media than they do through journalism sources. Honestly, I find this to be incredibly frightening. Rather than listening to news broadcasts or reading a newspaper to learn more about societal issues in our country or elsewhere, younger generations are finding news through comedic videos on YouTube, Facebook and various other social media platforms. Comedic videos can largely fabricate and twist actual events and issues, so I would have to disagree that this is an adequate way to reach out to those who don’t regularly watch the news.

MillennialVoters8121511111.jpg

Here lies my question: Do you think the lack of interest younger generations have in news broadcast channels and newspapers could be detrimental? Do you think comedic videos are truly the best way for those who don’t watch the news or read a newspaper to learn about what is happening in the world?

Ding

This past spring I had the honor of traveling to China for study abroad. I experienced how tough it was to use the internet during my short stay in the country, and in some way understand the difficulty in accessing important information. But, even after visiting China, I was largely unaware of SARS and the fear that third parties propagated through “private channels” to the public. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons that SARS brings to light is the power that mobile devices have in high risk situations. And, an even greater lesson is learning to delineate between faulty and honest information (neither of which are easy for anyone to properly identify).

It was mentioned in the article that whistleblowers, specifically, Dr. Jiang were an important part of the SARS equation because they helped re-assure the public. The Chinese government failed to provide the information necessary to calm the public, even after guerrilla media was released. Had the government stepped in and released some form of statement regarding SARS, the issue may not have amounted to as much as it did. An interesting question arises when thinking about the example presented in this article. How can you be certain that information you receive during situations similar to SARS is valid? And, more importantly, if you are a professional how do you determine which method to relay information to the public in times of distress? I think it largely depends on the situation.

As I was reading this article I thought of the Purdue Alert System that both the university and Purdue Police Department use in relaying high risk information to the public. This system is an example of effective implementation of alternative media to help spread sound information to others. The system is advertised to the community at the beginning of the school year, and is easy to join. This system is one that I think many students and professors who were on campus during the shooting a few years ago would be very proud of. Many professors were unaware of the situation because the system the university had in place was slower than the text messages that were sent out to students that day. Had the text messages not been sent, many students and faculty may never have known about the situation until it was too late. Unfortunately, most of the messages that are spread through alternative media are much harder to determine if the source the information has come from has good intentions.

It can be very easy to fall victim to the spread of faulty information. I think of the many ways in which messages are spread about candidates during election years. I think the fear that rested among people during the Ebola outbreak. At the end of the article we are presented with the task of better educating individuals on alternative media and learning how to make informed decisions regarding information that is spread to the public.

ding

My question: Can you think of any cases in which guerrilla media was effective? Do you think all guerrilla media is bad?

Tufte, Tufte, Tufte

The reading assigned for us today proposed some interesting questions regarding data, and the effective ways in which it can be used.We are immediately introduced to the document with the Cholera outbreak of 1854 in London. Following the discussion of the outbreak the discussion centers around John Snow who is deemed the savior of the situation. For it was with Snow’s evidence that a general understanding of how Cholera is contracted was discovered. There were two bullet points that immediately struck out to me as I was reading Visual Explanations. The first bullet point found I would like to discuss shed light on an important factor that one should take into account when dealing with data. Bullet number two, “Making quantitative comparisons,” stated that part of the reason that Snow was successful in resolving the Cholera outbreak was because he not only looked at the victims, but he also analyzed those who did not catch the virus and asked critical questions as to why this could have been. I can relate this to a project that I am working on in a separate course. In the project we are working with local clients to help proofread documents, and one of the main points that our professor has highlighted is that in the editorial process we need not only think of our client but the stakeholders who will read the documents as well (i.e. the client’s boss, those the document will come in contact with, the client’s coworkers, etc.).

A second bullet point that I found of particular importance was the one that followed my aforementioned example. Bullet number three was centered on the idea that ALL evidence to support a case is necessary and effective in creating credibility. Tufte further mentioned, “The point is to get it right, not to win the case, not to sweep under the rug all the assorted puzzles and inconsistencies that frequently occur in collection of data.” I strongly agree. Research should not be a sprint; it should be a marathon. If one’s goal in trying to find a cure is simply to be the first then what has the research truly proven aside from one’s own vain? Although, it would be nice to be the first to find a cure for Cancer per say, shouldn’t the reason behind the research be to help better the lives of those who suffered or are suffering? And on the contrary, if you found have data or evidence while researching your case that may contradict what you say or may reflect a negative situation you should most definitely include it. One of the biggest lessons I learned in my high school science courses resonates very well with this very idea. We were told from day one of class that when conducting experiments document and record EVERYTHING. Mistakes happen. Record them. To not record the mistakes and document obtained results in a dishonest fashion was highly frowned upon. The same can be said in this situation. Uncertainty or even as I previously mentioned, contradictory data sets, are not a bad thing they simply reflect human error and human nature, which is more honest than simply choosing to overlook such examples.

outlier-picture

To further build on what I previously mentioned, I have included a gif that pokes fun at an a chart with an out liar. If one were dishonest they would see the out liar as a contradictory to the somewhat positive trajectory of the chart, and simply omit it. However, keeping the outlier in the chart is both honest, and fuels a discussion as to why that data point even exists in the first place.

My question: How can you truly be sure that the data display you choose is the best fit? Even if you have conducted your work in an ethical manner, and have regarded all evidence to back up your case, will you ever truly be able to capture this effectively or do you think that there will always that one option that “could have” been better?

 

Data Visualization

Our readings have brought some interest themes and questions regarding data, and the visuals that are created to represent data. Just as Sarah Slobin mentioned in her article published on Source, one really begs to ask the question, “Is data visualization really necessary?” I for one am an incredibly visual learner. I am a huge fan of carefully crafted and unique visuals, attention grabbing advertisements, and PowerPoints filled with video and image to better accompany lengthy lecture. But, even I understand that there are times when data visualization simply is not necessary. Less is truly more. And, just like the example that Slobin gave in her post, there are times when text alone, when data alone can give just as powerful if not a more powerful message to viewers than any data visual ever could.

When reading the articles for today, I couldn’t help but think back to my Statistics 113 course here at Purdue. In our course we looked at statistics, yes, but the larger theme of the course was learning to read data in such a way that better helped us as students learn what constituted as GOOD data and what constituted as biased, faulty data. Many of the lessons that we learned in that class pair well with what we are discussing today in terms of data visuals. For example, in our statistics course we examined two graphs of polls that were shown on two separate news broadcast channels. Both of the channels were showing the same data, however, each one chose to include different starting points on their X and Y axis in order to conflate the data and make it appear as if a change had occurred when in all actuality the change itself was quite minute. We learned to look at data and ask ourselves whether the sample size seemed to be the logical amount in terms of the results that were gathered, we learned to look at the way in which the data was collected (was there only a select group asked to fill out survey questions), and through asking ourselves these questions we learned to find sound statistics that were both valid and honest. I am getting a bit off tangent here, but my point that I am trying to make is that data visuals and statistics go hand-in-hand. Both are very easy to manipulate in order to make a point, in order to make there appear to be some reason for viewers to take concern.

Slobin stated in her article, “Data visualization is a worthy craft. We can tell important stories with data…We need to remember [however], that behind the data are stories and inside those stories are people and those people are connected to the statistics in a way that we never will be…,” which I found to be a very powerful and thoughtful transition to her concluding statements. Yes, data visuals can be powerful. Yes, data visuals help viewers better understand what is being shown, but is it worth it in the end to create data visuals about people or in some cases even places whose experiences alone are enough? I do think there are cases when data visuals are necessary to help display data, but in the larger scheme of things, I think data visuals can almost make a mockery of predicaments that people may be going through (even if they aren’t intended) or in other cases can simply confuse viewers (like my example below).

tumblr_n3q52zsxvt1rlnmpto1_1280-370x300

My question: Let’s say that you are working for someone who wants you to create a data visual about a new disease that is gaining attention in the media. You see that the data visual is not necessary, and feel empathy for those who have suffered through the disease. The company you work for, however, does not. How do you approach your boss to begin a discussion regarding doing way with the visual?

Tversky

I must admit that this article was hard for me to comprehend. The lengthy introduction bored me a bit, and it was hard to process the information that was thrown at me. After reading the article, I was confused as to what stance Tversky truly has on animation and the benefits that it offers viewers/readers. There were times in the article when it seemed that he was against animation, and times when he was for animation. So, where does he truly stand?

One of the key points that Tversky touched on early in the article was the idea that animation itself can help cover all the bases that static animation cannot. He mentioned the example of a heart. When animation was added to the equation some of the more minute details of information were better depicted than in the case of the static heart. Tversky then went on to say, “Many of the static graphics portray only the coarse segments whereas the animations portray both the coarse and fine segments. Thus, there is greater information in the animations than in the static displays.” And, I would agree with Tversky. Animations better help viewers process information that static graphics and animations lack. In high school, I was required to take Physics as part of my core curriculum. The lessons that my teacher taught us presented complicated and hard to understand topics. He understood that the theories would be hard to understand at first, and used animated video (which allowed for him to tweak inertia, gravity, etc.) to help us visualize concepts that simple text or static animation were unable to produce.

Tversky then backtracks in his article when he discusses the reasons that animations themselves may not actually make that much of a difference in facilitating one’s education on a topic. According to Tversky, “Finally, and to foreshadow our next point, many animations, even elegant and natural ones, are difficult to perceive and understand, except perhaps by experts with extensive experience. The consequence of this is that animations may be distracting, or even harmful, to conveying important ideas.” Yes and no. I do agree that animation can become conflated and hard to understand. Take for example the Air Transportation video that we critiqued in class. The graphics and animation used in the video, although done well, were very confusing and hard to follow. Too much information was thrown at us, and it was hard to choose what to focus on. In cases similar to the one that I have just mentioned, animation may severely miss the mark in adequately presenting valuable information to the viewer.

However, I am a visual learner. I like visuals. I think that in my case, and in cases similar to my own, animation presents a unique way to engage with the viewer on a level that static graphic and animation simply cannot. Visual animation helps bring me closer to the content presented, whereas static graphics may actually confuse me and push me away. My question about animation is: Tversky mentioned in his text that animation should steer away from the “realistic.” Do you really think this should be the case? If you were presented with two animations, one looking more real and the other more abstract, wouldn’t you engage with the more realistic animation?

heart

I have chosen this graphic to further build on the question I presented. This animation of a human heart looks quite real. I would be surprised if viewers (perhaps pre-med students, etc.) would choose to view less real animations of the human heart over realistic animations.

 

Typography

It’s no secret, technology influences nearly everything we do day-to-day as a society. Take a stroll through campus and you’ll find nearly every student keyed into their phone as they check social media updates or choose a new song to listen to on their way to class. Catch a flight for a vacation and almost everyone in the airport is glued to some form of electronic device…maybe even fighting for an open outlet to charge said devices. With an increase in technology has come a frightening realization that video may in fact deteriorate the written language as we know it. But, how great is this fear among all? Two articles presented different stances on the issue- one took the somewhat apocalyptic stance and the other nearly laughed at the absurdity of the so called issue.

Will text be completely eliminated by video? The first article published on wordpress by Quartz wrote, “Facebook is predicting the end of the written word,” and seems to propose that the issue is imminent. In fact, the article quoted Nicola Mendelson saying, “In five years time Facebook ‘will be definitely mobile, it will be probably all video’.” The second article published by Ann Hadley took a different approach. In Hadley’s post, she notes that neither video nor writing is more important or superior to the other. Writing and video will always co-exist together, side-by-side. And, I would have to agree with her.

There are times, yes, when video should be used and writing should be omitted. There are however, other times when video should be omitted and writing should be more heavily stressed. But, this depends on different situations. How can one say that writing will disappear completely when there are people who are hearing impaired? Subtitles and script are key for those who may struggle with hearing video. And, the same can be said for those who are visually impaired. Video, in their case, becomes vital. I would also go so far as to say that some people may simply prefer to have text. Take older generations, for example. They grew up used to reading from hard copies. Take away text altogether, and they may not know what to do. Take, also, those of us who still like to sit down with a good book or read from a Kindle every once and a while. Nostalgia is a real and true thing.

I do understand that technology is becoming more a part of our lives each year, but I simply do not see the written language disappearing because of video. It was noted in Hadley’s article that Facebook has become real tricky. They can dictate what appears on your wall based on your interests (big data is a scary thought), and because of this they can control the video information that appears on your wall. I would say in this regard that Facebook is a bit biased and blind to the rest of society if they truly feel that the written language is on fiery road to its death.

I wonder if the sudden interest in video and live streaming is simply a fad or if it is here to stay. Do you think the reverse could be true? Do you think that people will grow tired of the videos used on Facebook and other social media platforms and revert back to more text savvy ways?

 

text-message-cartoon

I used the cartoon above in my post because I truly believe that if anything is “killing” our written language it is the introduction of smart phones. I don’t think the written language will die, but it will surely adapt and evolve as new slang is introduced.