Author: htow17


Wysocki pushes for a change in the visual expectations held by society. Specifically, the objectification of bodies, mainly women, was said to be an unnecessary and distracting addition to advertisements in the sense that they take away from the actual text. I would agree, but I would also argue that sex sells and the cover of a magazine is not necessarily meant to be read, but it’s meant to draw the reader in to buy, and then read,the textual content between that cover page and the end. That being said, Wysocki agrees that the obvious point of visualizations is to meet the expectations of the audience, and I liked that she challenges these expectations. Is it possible to change society’s expectations about beauty and the quality of visual compositions? I support Wysocki’s notion that designers should push the horizon to change the viewers expectations, however the actual possibility of this seems slim to me. The media has a lot of control on shaping societal ideals, so without a big push to change these expectations or notions of beauty, and without wide-swept support from major media outlets, how would this be remotely possible? The image I’ve attached with this post is a Playboy cover from 1970… here we can see that society’s expectations have not drastically changed over the last (almost) 50 years. If the objectification of women and the notion that sex sells has continued this long, why would it change now? More over, how can it change now? I don’t think designers could effectively challenge this without the support from major media outlets, because if they tried then their work may not be bought and then they will not have any future work.

Wysocki has high-hopes, and I like the idea of challenging expectations through visualizations, but I just don’t see it being super realistic. In addition, I liked that she pushes her students to find what they believe to be effective compositions before she delivers design principles to them. I think that’s a great way to get students to start noticing design principles before they’re familiar with them,which could in turn make the easier to recognize, apply, and experiment with. I can’t say that I disagree with Wysocki, I just think she’s being a very optimistic teacher where as I consider myself a realist. The set forth design principles work, and experimenting with them is always great, but changing society’s expectations is extremely ambitious.


This week’s reading was interesting as it showed the power in technological change relevant to political power. Jenkins framed his article around a political debate between 2008 presidential candidates, hosted by YouTube and CNN. This debate allowed for regular citizens to post videos from home asking the candidates questions about different policies and issues. This was the first time an old media (CNN) had merged with a new media (YouTube) and the first time candidates had been questioned by the grass roots. This debate was criticized for not being serious as they had a melting snowman represent a serious issue of global warming. While others supported the debate, especially YouTube users who were able to actively participate in the election in a way they never had before.

Eventually CNN decided to stop holding the debates with YouTube semiprofessionals, but this didn’t stop the sharing of information. YouTube videos are shared on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, proving its continuing relevance today. Something I found interesting in the article, although lightly touched on, was the notion of gatekeepers. In this situation, CNN acted as a gatekeeper and declared the debates were ineffective and “immature” and discontinued the participation of the general public in debates.The participation of average citizens carried a lot of political power, but just because people couldn’t directly ask the candidates questions, they could use social media as a way to share ideas and place indirect pressure on candidates. Today, gatekeeping still occurs in the news, but social media has continued to gain political power in the ability to freely share ideas. Do you think to any degree social media sites work as gate keepers? I myself am unsure of what would cause a social media site to block a post for political content, but I’d be interested to know. In any regards, social media is a great platform to share ideas, but I think a lot of what is shared is just for entertainment and social media can be taken over by garbage. As a political platform, social media can operate powerfully, but viewers should also be aware that facts need to be personally reviewed.

Image result for gatekeeper social media

Release the risky information

This week’s article was very important, and should be a reminder to all that the media is not always accurate i.e. the news targets whatever information they want to be heard, and what is not shared (which could be extremely important) is up to us, the public, to share and inform one another. This is even more true in a communist-governed country, where everything is censored. I personally cannot imagine being left in the dark about a deadly disease outbreak such as SARS. I would want to know; I’d want the opportunity to defend and protect myself. Risk communication such as Guerilla media and professional’s giving anonymous advice such as whistle blowers does offer the potential for lines to be crossed and miscommunication to be spread, but I would rather overreact and over prepare than under prepare and die! I think it takes a huge amount of courage to publicly or anonymously share classified information. When a person risks their job. their family, or their life to share information, chances are that information should be taken seriously. Granted, the article shed light on how many people did overreact and panic because the hear-say information was a bit exaggerated (i.e. if you ride the bus in the morning you’ll contract the disease and die by night), but because people were out spending a bunch of money and buying antiviral medications the government *finally* intervened. As, Ding pointed out, this is a very extreme case being that it’s a communist government and risks are higher for citizens who share information with the media. Even so, here in our own country we’ve seen whistle blowers act out of courage to share information with the public. The reality is that the government does hide things, and when those ‘things’ can effect the public’s health, well-being, or defer their decisions, that information needs to be shared. People like Dr. Jiang, who realized that telling only their personal friends and family was not enough, is a hero. While most information was hear-say, Dr. Jiang stood up and told the public what he knew, and he backed that up with proof. Once, he had shared his *credible* information, other doctors began to speak up, making the message that much more clear. As people being prepared to become professional communicators (at least I know myself and multiple other people are PW majors) we need to know how to share this risk information and how to supply the masses with the information necessary when danger arises. How would you advocate as a professional communicator for someone with classified information to share through your platform of media? I think that question may be easy to answer, but what if it’s unethical? What constitutes as unethical? I ask this because for submitting classified information to an organization such as Wikileaks is treason, and therefore illegal and will result in imprisonment, so where is the line drawn? Ding tells us to “fully examine the circumstances, power relations, and possible choices of specific cases or scenarios.” I think to consider these things in the wake of truly important but classified and risky information would be difficult because although we do live in the USA, the land of the free, everything has consequences. As aforementioned, whistle blowers are heroes, but at what cost to themselves? Ultimately, they risk their lives for ours.

Segal and Heer

I was surprised in reading this paper to see that the majority of the media we see today is still very much author-based. Of course, any visual narrative is going to need authoring to some extent, even if it is majorly reader-based because options have to be created for that reader. However, I think that creating a visual narrative that is more reader-based and interactive is more effective because if a reader has the authority to choose what they want to read, interpret, or analyze they’re more likely interested and will therefore engage more productively. Being that providing interactivity can be more effective in telling a story, I also believe it can be harder to create reader-based narratives because a designer has to put more thought and predictions into the design in order to provide the self-exploring interactivity for  readers. What surprised me is that commercials, art, training videos, and more are still mainly author-based. Why do you think these mediums are still being created in a more author-based narrative? Do you think it’s just easier to create author-based and so in order to keep up with the demand designers stick with what’s easy and still functional?

Image result for interactive slideshow visual narratives

I think this visual narrative is a great example of an interactive slideshow. A viewer can move on through the slideshow as they are ready, and they can stop and further explore different aspects of the visual at their own rate as well. I think this is effective because it uses a mixture of both author-driven and reader-driven approaches, and the combination allows for a story to be told in somewhat of a sequence, but readers still have options to slow down and further explore at their own leisure.

Tufte, Visual Explanations

In Tufte’s article for this week he discussed two cases where graphs that held very important information, and where they failed. The first and successful instance was based on a graph created by Dr. John Snow to track cholera in London. The second was based on graphs presented to NASA by an engineer for the Challenger, but the graphs were inconclusive to the directors of the mission and because of this they were dismissed. Tufte found the graphs about Cholera to be effective for four reasons. First, the data was used in the correct context to show a cause and effective relation, rather than just presenting the data as a chronology of death tolls, Snow was able to show a link between the data (number of deaths) and the location of the these deaths. This showed a cause and effect by showing that the majority of deaths were occurring near a particular well, pointing evidence towards water contamination. Secondly, Snow made quantitative comparisons between the dead and the infected who had survived which further showed a link to water contamination. Thirdly, Snow considered opposing scenarios and explanations for the disease, which allowed him to rule these out and rule these out for his audience as well. Lastly, Snow made an assessment of his graphs, and he put these assessments in the margins. This showed his audience that he had carefully thought through this graph as well as the statistical information. Essentially, Snow predicted errors that his audience could find to contradict him, and he either accounted for these errors or removed these errors so that his audience could not deny the evidence.

The reason the challenger graphing did not work is because the engineer did not use a cause and effect display of information. They showed temperature and parts of the shuttle, but they didn’t show how the temperature affected these parts, such as the O-rings. Although the engineers knew that there was a direct relation between the temperature and the performance of the shuttle, they couldn’t convince NASA of this, even with the use of 13 charts. Quality is more important than quantity at any rate, and a cause and effect relation is key to convincing an audience. Data should be reflected in a way that provides the audience with little to dispute and with little to question. The audience should clearly see a relation, without doubt. In this case, not providing an effective visual had very serious consequences as people lost their lives. The image I chose is a graph that tracks and shows a relation between vaccines and autism. This graph could do a better job by showing an analysis in the margins, but it is effective in showing the rise in autism concurrent with the rise of MMR and Measles Vaccines.

Image result for effective cause and effect data graph

Empathy and Visualizations

Between the three articles I think that it can be said that creating empathy through data graphics is difficult, and completely depends on what the content is. For instance, in the article by DataViz, Zer-Aviv talks about how it can be more important to show the data in an objective way and leave the information to be analyzed without emotion. Zer-Aviv noted an example of it being more important to show the death of 200 people than to get personal and show just the death of one person. Media does like to draw support through empathy and to do this they tend to focus on one heart wrenching story, but for data graphics, I agree with Zer-Aviv that designers should stick to just the information. When a graph shows the true facts of a situation, that problem cannot be denied regardless.

The other two articles both agreed that empathy is effective, but I think that it truly depends on the content and size of information in relation to time a designer has. Jake Harris in “Connecting the Dots” he points out some effective use of graphical data that plays on empathy, but his examples further prove my point of time and content. For instance, the graphic made by The Times was effective in focusing on one day of the war, but it couldn’t focus on the war in it’s entirety. In addition, I think empathy can be used to play up graphics, but not so much graphical data. In both “Connecting the Dots” and “What if the data visualization is actually People?” they had examples of using pictures of people with their representations. In fact, Sarah Slobin said pictures can be data. In both cases however, it took a lot of time to put those graphics together. Slobin spent over six months creating her graphic to be empathetic in representing terminally ill children. In a case like that empathy should most definitely be considered, but so should time. In the case of a war though, I think it’s more effective to give statistical data over pictures. The number of fatalities that occur within war are tremendous, and that number can relay a stronger message sometimes. I’m not completely sold that data should be made empathetic with visualizations, but I believe if time permits and if the data is not overwhelming that it is possible and in some cases could be effective. Do you think data graphics should stick to the facts and numbers, or do you think people cannot see a number as a life and therefore need an actual face to empathize with?

Image result for death toll of hurricane katrina graph

Tufte 1

I personally found this reading not only helpful, but extremely easy to remember and hold on to as a future design reference because of how much sense it makes! The data-ink ratio is a great way to double check that your data graphic effectively displays the information needed. It only makes sense that the more ink used to represent the actual data should outweigh the matters outside of the data. I also liked that Tufte clarified that maximizing the data-ink ratio should be within reason. He then points out that “every bit of ink on a graphic requires a reason” (p. 96). I almost feel that this is obvious, but within design it can be problematic to try and create something that is visually pleasing and engaging without adding extra ink outside of data. However, Tufte gives good reason for wanting to use the most ink on the data, and trying to cut out any additional ink that doesn’t present new information. So this first principle of erasing in regards to non-data ink is key because, someone viewing a data graphic is viewing it for just the data, and therefore there’s no reason to include additional ink. Tufte gave some great examples of data graphics that overused ink outside of data, as well as ways to minimalize non-data ink. Next, Tufte offered another way to reduce ink by reducing redundant information. I was able to relate a lot more to this example because I’ve seen many times where a graph conveys data by lines and by numbers, where only one may need to be used. For example, when a bar graph goes up to an axis and represents the data in that form, but then repeats the number the bar reaches within the actual bar making the data redundant. There are cases, like pie charts (my last blog example) that do need more than just the data represented in slices and therefore need extra data-ink in regards to numbers, but this is the exception not the rule. Are there other cases that it may actually be helpful to show the data in multiple ways? I know Tufte referred to using maps that show the world and then another 2/3rds to be more helpful, but are there other circumstance outside of pie charts and maps that would benefit from reiterating the data?

My example below is a great example of maximizing data-ink. The entire graph is data, and from my analysis I see no information that could be omitted. It’s actually quite a bit of data, covering forty years and all seven continents. The graphic effectively incorporated numbers, colors, and captions to create a cohesive graph that uses the ink effectively. Non-data ink would be the surrounding outline of the bar graph, but I see the numbers, colors, and captions as all key elements to represent the data and therefore apart of the data. The non-data ink being the outline of the graph still serves a purpose. I think that the designer behind this data graph followed the five principles of data graphics (“show the data, maximize the data-ink ratio, erase non-data-ink, erase redundant data-ink, revise and edit”).