Author: dixuan08

Form it real

When we look at a picture in our daily life, what could be the first thing you think of? Is it the color combination? Is it the drawing technique? Or could it be the reality of that image? Usually we would consider about its form in the first place. We may not know how good that picture could be, but we definitely understand whether we are comfortable seeing that or not.

As Wysocki writes in his article, he argues about the importance of forms in visualizations. Starting from the New Yorker Ad, we see the ad with a woman’s picture. He first addresses William’s design principle that people would first concentrate on the lightest and roundest shape on the body, so in this case it is the hip that is brightest and most attractive. However, Wysocki doesn’t agree because he thinks that William’s principle contains neither context nor comments. There are denials that are more trustworthy because they have histories and consequences.

According to Johanna Drucker, it is important to ease your audiences’ access to your information. That is obvious since we do want others to catch the most valuable part at the fastest speed. Also due to Arnheim and Bang, our view on 2D space is affected by our experience of directional gravity in the real world. That’s why visual elements’ positions take effects when we are reading them. In other words, when an object is universal and structured, it is harmonized and shows beauty to our eye balls.

I feel the same way as the researchers do. I work with 3D space more often and I know how bad I feel about crappy models because they don’t look correct at all. It is more apparent to see when you have an awful mesh in your modeling process. It doesn’t attract us, doesn’t follow the rules, and of course doesn’t serve the form of beauty.

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-11-46-55-amThis is the “3-year animation series” movie done by Reality 3D. They are people who make parodies from anime and movies using awful 3D techniques. By saying awful, it seems to be obvious that those characters are not rigged in the correct movements and posing. How can you expect reality and beauty from something that doesn’t even follow the universal rules? Clearly this is an example of bad form.


Now how would you feel about this model? It looks better, doesn’t it? The reason is simple: it is universally acceptable, it is well posed in structure, and so it gives us the feeling of reality. It is really essential that when you are creating your visualization, think of it as something that could be from fantasy but also following the rules. There are all kinds of exaggerated images or models in the world. However, only those that are based on real life win the applause from the audience. Because it fits the logic of people’s mind. You can be creative, but you do need to form it real.

The question I want to ask is: “what aspects should 2D painting be careful with in this case?”


What’s the real digital democracy?

As we discussed through many online video websites and social media networks, we have seen so many original or the “parody” videos and memes with various contents. It cannot be denied that the 21st century has come to a period of digital democracy——people get to create their own visualization and post them online with freedom. However, many people are still thinking about more reliable sources of media such as the CNN, representing the traditional public media. While others are more willing to spread out their thoughts through public video channels like YouTube. So what are the characteristics of online video sites?

YouTube has been used by so many people. It is a site that is the meeting ground of different grassroots communities. Whether they are game streaming groups, technical reviewers or political debaters, people coming from all over the world have posted their own advocacy to others. Second thing is that YouTube is a media archive where people can share things with the public. It is so convenient nowadays that you can use your smartphone, take a video and quickly post that online. YouTube contains so many videos and so as other sites. Last but not least it functions in relation to other social networks. This seems to be a common thing for video websites since not everyone knows how to edit media. You can easily click the share button from, for example, Facebook, and the thing will be transferred to another site. This website is a platform for both amateur and semiprofessional media content.

During the CNN vs YouTube debate, an anonymous American posted a video called “FU CNN” discussing about his experience of masked face and his voice. He had the power to speak back to the silencing power, which makes me think about the digital democracy. We have rights to use the power to do things. How will websites or media respect personal feelings and efforts? How shall we ourselves respect each other’s effort?

Comparing to the political debate, we have something similar in China as well. First let me introduce you an online video website. It is called BiliBili.


This site used to serve for ACG (anime, comics and games) lovers. But during these years, it has fulfilled with various contents such as music videos, self-made animations and daily life streaming. It has almost all the classifications you can imagine. Users use this website for free and it can also get access to many Chinese social networks such as WeiXin and Weibo. The thing that I want to say is that this site respects freedom of opinions. There was a wave of verbal attacking the vicious Docter called YongXin Yang.


This Docter had his own hospital of curing “Internet addiction disorder”, using the way of electric shots, which is incredibly inhumane. There were public media like the government news reporting the fact, but they couldn’t express their opinions in public. In contrast, bilibili had lots of videos commenting on this factor. There were also parodies that express the video makes’ will in their own way. Even with the dirtiest syntaxes, bilibili still created spaces for them.


This is the parody example. The author created a song for him. You can see the comments are filled with cursed words. However, I agree with this kind of action. People are obeying the rules of commenting in other kinds of videos. But in the situation where your feelings need better expression, bilibili allows you to do that. You can turn the comments off if it disturbs you, so it obeys the rule that commenting is not affecting others.

Digital democracy should be serving for individual’s feelings in the first place without affecting other audiences. Whether it is a forum, a social network or a video website, it always has the possibility to occur personal attacks. However, rules and policies are made to restrict this type of appearances, such as real-name registration. Democracy can only be achieved when we are all in this together, dispelling the bad and keeping the good.

The question I want to ask is: “should people comment and express personal feelings in public media (like news)?”

We need more whistle-blowers

It was that dreadful 2003, when the nightmare of SARs covered most parts of China. Schools and companies stopped, people were struggling with everyday life and all kinds of rumors. During the SARs outbreak, the Chinese official media didn’t say anything about it, while the alternative media spread out so much information from anonymous authors.

In this passage there are discussions about risk communication. Alternative serves as one important aspect of presenting the information. When those anonymous specialists tell others the information, it will be sent out by the journalists to his or her friends and family members. Soon due to the decentralized characteristic of Chinese media, the information is heard by more and more people, eventually turned into rumors and gossips.

You can’t deny the huge social and political impact of rumor on the public.  Since the Chinese official remained silence, there were no other ways to retrieve information about SARs. The Internet wasn’t that common and convenient neither. So alternative media would be the only reliable source to count on. There was one other aspect of communication, though. It was the great whistle-blower: the great Dr. Jiang YanYong. When he watched the lies presented on the TV talk show, he was feeling extremely angry. Dr. Jiang believed that people should tell the truth instead of hiding the reality. So he started to assert his thoughts to the country. And finally the Chairman Hu announced to forbid hiding the truth from the public.

It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what kind of media you are writing for. But the thing is we need the truth to make sure our audiences understand what is truly happening. Although it could be something related to someone’s privacy, although it could matter with few people’s benefit, we still need someone to standout in order to fight for social justice. We need more whistle-blowers, like Julian Assange.


He figured out the inner story of Hillary Clinton’s plot from the e-mail. He publishes secret information on WikiLeaks. He said he stands out for social justice, which is the motivation of his work. Julian thought that before we get definitions and recognitions of so many things throughout the world, we need to deeply understand the truth standing behind the outcomes, even that could be the darkest thing you would ever expect. Julian has shown his faith in his work and has received the Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism in 2011.

He is right. The world needs to be seen as its true face, not the dark side full of cheats. Only the truth represents everything.

The question from me would be “do you guys agree on what Julian did?”


Storytelling works

If you were told so much information in a way with statistics, you might not remember all that the speaker was trying to say; but if you were told a story, you could possibly have that memorized better than the previous one.

Storytelling, as a traditional way of conveying information, has been extremely important in data visualization. Like the previous readings we had, the Journalist uses photos instead of unreadable academic data charts to tell the story. Case studies of Segal and Heer have proved the amazing power of storytelling with data.

There are five case studies that I have done. The first one is the “Steroids or not”. The contents are linked together with many little parts and the story teller is using shaded highlighting and annotations; the second one is the “Budget forecasts”. The line graph and the text express data in the order of time to show the entire process. It uses time-slider, multi-messaging, details and interactivity to tell the story; next we have the Afghanistan example. The researchers map out the areas in different shades of color to show the situation of opium cultivation. This map includes semantically consistent color encoding, timelines and summaries in the end; after that we have the “Gapminder Human Development Trends”. This is my favorite one because it uses high interactivity technique and a slideshow to present the data. With a highly interactive slideshow the visualization presents different categories of human development effectively. The checklists and the progress bar help a lot in the presentation; finally, we have the Minnesota employment explorer study. The visualization itself contains wave forms of data in order to encourage the readers to find the story out themselves. I personally think they could have done it with more details.

Above are all examples of storytelling in different kinds of visualizations. I feel like if you include stories in some sort of way, it can be really helpful. Because by just standing there and reading a bunch of data, you will feel extremely boring. Here is an example.


The Boston marathon is one of the most famous marathon events in the U.S. In the visualization above we can see there are photos with detailed description about it, graphs of timing of men and women with a timeline and introduction texts. If it only contains the graph people will not want to see the case. However, with the photos and the stories throughout the history, your audiences are more likely to get interested in this event. Both methods serve for the same purpose, but storytelling works out better.

The question I want to ask is: “Besides storytelling and statistics, is there a third method of presenting data?”


Do the right graphics

“There are right ways and wrong ways to show data; there are displays that reveal the truth and displays that do not.” (Tufte, 45)

Tufte describes two events in his article: The cholera event and the Challenger explosion tragedy. Both of these two events show examples of false data visualization. The first one happened in London, although Snow has done it in a casual theory, it still has loopholes, such as the contradictory timing of the decrease of cholera relating to the removal of pipes. The other example is due to the unpersuasive data graphs presented by the engineers. The officers of Nasa didn’t believe in them so the tragedy happened. False data and unclear explanations are the main reasons of the catastrophy.

Tufte addresses the four steps of verifying a good visualization: Placing data appropriately for showing causes and effects; making quantative comparisons; consider different explanations and assessment of errors. Snow’s research did not place the data in the right place so misunderstandings happen. The engineers of the spaceship used the wrong data and misplaced the positions of elements. That explains a lot how the things become catastrophic.

When we are doing our data visualizations, we should be aware of our credibility of evidences. That means we cannot use wrong data and misplace them. In order to make sure we don’t let others misunderstand, we have to double check our work after we finish the draft. Check errors and have some backup plans. Let’s look at some bad data.


Part A represents the percentage of likes on brands. However, the circle of “yes” is bigger than the “NO”, while the percentage of “Yes” is apparently smaller. At first glance we would think that there are more people liking the brand due to a faulty visualization. Part C contains more than 100 percent of total percentage. When we look into the separate numbers, we might get ourselves wrong with the wrong proportion of population. Incorrect data and wrong composition are not doing the right job.

Data visualizations are supposed to be understood immediately in a right way, not supposed to make people spend too much time on confusing explanations and conclusions. There is an interesting thing called the 10-feet test. If you can put a graph on an 8.5 by 11-inch paper and step back 10 feet and still get the data, that proves the graph is a good visualization.


The graph above is a good graph example. It is clear and simple. Although the background could be a little bit distractive, it does not affect the overall presentation of the data. From a fair distance you would still be able to catch the point in a brief period.  Things are positioned correctly, data are true and so, are persuasive, too.

The question from me will be: “Could there be any other reasons that cause bad visualizations?”

Resource reference
Selig, Abe. “Survey: Are Your Data Visualizations Negatively Impacting Your Company?” Plotting Success. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.

How should our visualization come out?

It is hard when it comes to the decision of methods you want to use in your own visualization work. Do you want to demonstrate the data you have? Do you want others to feel the same way? Or do you want to just tell them the truth by showing a simple photo? I have been searching for answers from the three articles in our class.

The first article is about data visualization as people. Sarah mentions in her article that charts are not the only way of communication. She uses an example of working on a project about a journal. When she has massive data, she tries to find a way of making a chart that can let other people understand. But she fails and realizes that graphics should not exist for the sake of graphics. Sometimes photos have their own right and we should consider about the way your presenting things.

The second article writes about a metaphor — dots as people. Many times magazines and news would use charts with dots representing the amount of people or the amount of events, such as the Times’ violent graph of Baghdad. We can see the massive violence in that area however that’s just it. After the first shock there is nothing else. We rely so much on our technologies but we lose something simultaneously: the ability of telling a story that lets people understand you the most.

The last article, quite different from the previous ones, is about the goal of visualization. The author mentions the purpose of our charts, graphs or photos. Do we want empathy in our visualization or do we want to do something against it? She shows the video of the gun murder study. The massive arcs ‘animation representing the age of death and the expected years of living comes out with different opinions. She has left us a question in the end: how should our visualization come out?

I am the kind of person who wants to have my own view and not affected by others. But I don’t really care about how others think about a thing. If they have their own opinions, so be it. We don’t have the right to control their preferences. This is important when we are creating our own visualizations. So I disagree with the purpose of putting empathy in. We should allow others to think it their own ways.

Besides that, out visualization should take the best way that works like a real person. Because the effect of people chatting to each other is better than using electronics as a media or showing them a visualization. So in order to max out the effect, we should try to make our visualization be humanized so that it feels more natural when presented.


In order to do that, we need to find the correct method. Just like the author in the second article says: dots can be useful in some period, while in the other situations they don’t. This is an example of where dots can be effective. This is the map showing the amount of people using twitter(blue) and Flickr(orange). It has a good contrast between all three kinds of colors so it is easy to see the range and amount. Comparing to the boring data chart this way apparently works out better.


There are also times when you can use photos to tell the whole story. Instead of just showing others the data and the graphs, why not thinking about using a photo that explains the real situation? Above is a traffic jam in China during winter. This picture gives the audiences a great feeling of shocking and will remain long after we see the photo. In this case story telling can be more effective: Driving on snowy road is dangerous and drivers can never be careful enough.

However, I am not saying that every situation should be the same. Different stories need different storytellers. It is only you who can think about a visualization that is better than the others.

We need a correct way of viewing animation

We need a correct way of viewing animation

Tversky, a guy arguing about the failure of animation, looks like a joke to me. He first asserts graphics can facilitate comprehension, memory, communication and inference. Then he starts to talk about how these researches about animations are showing results that are not encouraging. He believes that since graphics are things that should help people understand better in the content, animation should have a better function than static graphics.  However, Tversky counters the idea with examples that really don’t make any sense.

The first example he uses is the speed explanation. Although he does agree that animation facilitates understanding, he thinks animation is not comparable with static graphics because animation contains information which we cannot get from static graphics. In this case animation includes the simulation of other effects such as inertia which makes the explanation more realistic. Since animation includes something in advance automatically, that means animation is superior in the aspect of representing but Tversky denies the advantage of it.  This is the beginning of my query. Why would you talk about this while you say it is not comparable?

Not only the physics speed definition example, I have seen really bad examples of arguing in the other parts as well. Let’s talk about the ACSE example. ACSE according to him is a system that helps you learn biology using multimedia. As a result, students using this system are not performing better that those who don’t use the system. I doubt about this experiment. Did it control the variables? By that means, are the students having equal abilities of learning? Is the education environment the same? Are they all spending same time on studying? No additional information has proved this experiment fair thus it doesn’t sound persuasive.

Another thing that affects his argument is the Newton’s law example. Using an animation to teach Newton’s law to elementary school kids doesn’t have any effects. So Tversky comes straight out with the conclusion of animation is a failure. Same problems just happen again; he doesn’t consider any other aspects that may affect this result: is the animation really clear to understand? Are there environment issues? And most importantly, they are elementary kids! Are you sure that they get what are you trying to say? Do you guarantee your audiences have the ability to catch your idea? We don’t know what kinds of kids they are, but we know that this example lacks consideration of multiple factors.

“Although performance in the Animate condition was better than in the other three conditions, the lack of comparability among conditions does not allow any conclusions about the relative efficacy of animated graphics” (Tversky, p253). My comment is simple: why would you write this article?

We are in a period of better technology and visualization. We need to correct our way of judging. Let’s justify the correct view of animation. For me I believe animation has both benefits and shortcoming when it comes to perception and comprehension.


Using the difference of manga and anime as an example, I think they represent the concept of static graphics and animation pretty well and it is something everyone can understand. In manga you have the static graphics and words written in order to explain the situation. It gives you sufficient time to read and understand the idea. Without those fancy actions and voices it is still a good way of presenting a story. On the other hand, animation facilitates the comprehension of story comparing to manga. It has good movements that favor our eyes, good voice over which you don’t need extra text to help you perceive. Just by watching and listening, you can easily get the idea. However, anime does go on without pauses, which could be a bad thing for those who are slow in getting the story. In this case Manga serves people better.

Above is how I would give out an explanation about my idea. We should give out objective ideas with the all the information you need, not incorrect logic and reasons that are unpersuasive at all. When we criticize something, think about how you are going to address your ideas.

The question I want to ask is: “how are you guys feeling about animation in other ways of advantages?”