If there is one thing to take away from Lengler and Moore’s article, Guiding the Viewer’s Imagination: How Visual Rhetorical Figures Create Meaning in Animated Infographics, it is that researchers, scientists, and programmers in the visual information field cannot rely on technology alone. They need skilled designers, familiar with rhetorical elements, who are essential to the success of visual and animated data graphics. I felt this was extremely important because the authors mentioned it in the beginning and the end of the article.
What interested me most about this article was section 3.4 Comparison for Opposition: Antithesis. In this section of the article, the authors discuss the visual ways that people perceive opposition or differences. Lengler and Moore explained that when identifying difference between things, you often have to start with similar things. The example the authors used was a photograph of a glacier taken in 1928 which was positioned above a photograph of the same glacier, but this photograph was taken in 2004. In that example, the viewers could easily recognize that the pictures were of the same glacier (the viewpoints were identical), and since they knew that the viewer could then perceive the differences knowing the central object was the same. The authors then went on to mention that according to Eisenstein’s montage theories, peoples’ thoughts and ideas are perceived not side by side, but on top of one another. This is why the glacier photographs were positioned vertically not horizontally.
For my example, I chose to use a picture similar to the glacier pictures which I discussed in the previous paragraph. You can view the picture below. The picture is of the same mountain-top, one taken in 1985 and the other taken in 2002. Knowing that the pictures are similar (in this case the same mountain) it is easier for people to point out differences. And the use of positioning the pictures vertically rather than horizontally better reflects peoples’ thought process according to Eisenstein’s montage theories.
There is a question I have about this article, which could serve as a question for class discussion. In the article the authors talked quite a bit about metaphors. They even mentioned that metaphors are the “best known rhetorical figures”. My question is, do metaphors really invoke all these connections and emotions, in a person, like the authors claimed. This is directed to individual persons in the class, not a generic made-up person.
In Lev Manovich’s article, he first begins by giving us some background information and necessary framework of what will be discussed over the course of the article. One important piece of information was the time range which he would be discussing, which was 1993 – 1998. This was because he stated most of the article would deal with and draw examples from After Effects, which was first released in 1993. Manovich went through to 1998 because, in his opinion, by the late nineties was when media became fully mixed with various elements (i.e. computer animation, live action, typography, and design). Manovich also discussed early on why his paper was entitled the The Velvet Revolution. He stated that when Czechoslovakia liberated itself from the Soviet Union, it was a gradual and peaceful liberation, as was the transformation of media in the 1990’s into a new hybrid media. After I got by the first few pages of background knowledge and why Manovich did this or that, the article became heavily focused on examples. Examples based around After Effects and real world people or situations. It was basically one media related topic to the next where Manovich would analyze it, tells us how it used to be done (in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, etc.), and then explain how it changed in the 90’s and helped create this hybrid new media that we see all around us today.
Since this article was heavily centered around After Effects, I think that it may be appropriate to draw an example from After Effects. In the picture below we see a screen shot of someone’s work on After Effects. The composition combines, in this state, only photography (picture of the boy) and graphic design (images of fire and fireball). According to Manovich, this may already be considered part of the new hybrid media he was discussing. But this could easily have more added to it like animation and live action to create an awesome motion graphic that involves a variety of media forms all in one frame.
My question for class discussion is what was Manovich’s other reason to call this event in the 1990’s the Velvet Revolution? He mentions early in the article that they were both nonviolent and gradual, but he also states that another connection can be made between the two after we analyze the details he discussed throughout the paper.
Porter’s paper, Recovering Delivery for Digital Rhetoric, is broken down in two main parts. The first part being a brief overview of the history of rhetorical delivery. The second part was Porter’s explanations of components that make up the framework of digital delivery. The history part of the paper was not particularly interesting to me. It seemed like Porter was just explaining how certain ancient Greek and Roman figures (such as: Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, and maybe some others) thought positively or negatively about delivery in rhetoric. The purpose of that first section was basically to say delivery in rhetoric was used and taught much more pre-computers and was almost nonexistent by the late 20th century. The second part of the paper tried to explain why rhetorical delivery is important in this digital age and should be utilized effectively in digital spaces. Porter emphasized that there are five key components that make up the framework for digital delivery: 1) Body/Identity (online representations or images of person), 2) Distribution/Circulation (getting spread around the web), 3) Access/Accessibility (if people have access and how easy to use), 4) Interaction (people can engage with the information), 5) Economics (politics, copyright, ownership of digital information and materials). After exploring each component in depth, Porter gave a specific example of how digital delivery is important in a modern hospital emergency room.
While reading Porter’s paper I found his 3rd component of digital delivery, Access/Accessibility, to be very interesting. He talked about how certain groups of people may not even have access to internet or even computers in general. And even some of the people who do have access, they may have some sort of disability that hinders them from getting all of what the author/designer was intending.
I have witnessed firsthand a digital display which doesn’t take into account a user with a specific disability. I work at a grocery store and I saw a customer who had trouble paying for his groceries on a shelf check-out lane. When he swiped his credit card on the pin-pad, it instructed him to push the green button for acceptance or push the red button to cancel. It turns out this customer was color blind and he saw red as green and green as green. So every time he pushed a button it was the wrong and which kept causing his card to be declined. According to Porter, the creator of the program on the pin-pad and the actual pin-pad should have started backwards before designing it and considered who might be using it and what disabilities (large or small) may come into play.
In the final words of Porter’s paper, he states, “The ultimate point of rhetoric is to help writers/speakers/designers do a better job of helping people live their lives—or, even, save lives. Developing a robust rhetorical canon for digital delivery is necessary to achieve that end.” I really liked this quote and thought it was a nice way to sum up the paper. My question for class discussion is just wanting to know if everyone else agrees with Porter’s quote and if they disagree, what works better than digital delivery?
After reading articles from both Kostelnick and Tufte, I got I better understanding on how the two share similar and opposing views on data displays. In Kostelnick’s article he talks about minimalists and how they use the simplest displays to help them appeal to large audiences across many cultures and nationalities. I would say that Tufte falls into this category as a minimalist. As we remember from our last reading, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Tufte was all about making all data displays the clearest and most precise as you could get. This meant erasing all ink that didn’t display necessary information about the data and eliminating chartjunk (i.e. vibrations, grids, decoration, etc.) Kostelnick shared Tufte’s idea that keeping data displays simple, clear, and precise may appeal to a large audience. But Kostelnick thought that a Tufte-level of simplicity may not appeal to all audiences. Kostelnick talked about using something in a data display which will get the reader’s attention, in other words, using Tufte’s dreaded chartjunk. Kostelnick found it necessary in some cases to use graphics or decoration in data displays to capture the attention of those who value beauty or complexity, not just simplicity and clarity. After comparing ideas from both Kostelnick and Tufte, I like Kostelnick’s viewpoint better because of the fact that it’s okay to use graphics or decoration in data dispalys, just as long as the data is still clear and it’s only being used to draw attention to the display.
The picture posted below, I feel is a good example of a data display Kostelnick would be alright with. It is a horizontal bar graph which displays data about various computer programs/skills. The graph is simple as it is just a bar graph of each program/skill corresponding to a specified value, but the bars each include the logo corresponding to what it’s representing. The display also uses color as opposed to just black and white or greyscale.
A question for class discussion would be: Are Tufte and Kostelnick all that different? Both have ideas that seem to align. How do you think they would work together?
Tufte’s paper of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information amused me very much. I enjoyed this because there were times when I agreed very strongly with the points Tufte was trying to make. But there were other times when I thought Tufte should just stop writing because some points were just so picky and outlandish. Tufte included a quote by Augustus Pugin, which I thought best summarized most of Tufte’s thoughts from his paper. The quote is, “It is all right to decorate construction but never construct decoration”. I thought that quote really fit Tufte’s paper because in the beginning he was talking about how to simplify data visualizations (graphs, charts, plots, etc.) to make the best use of the total ink to maximize data-ink. I strongly agreed with that first point, that unnecessary lines, grids, or whatever which clutter the data should be eliminated. But as I got to the second half of Tufte’s paper, I started to disagree with some of the statements. In the second half of the paper, Tufte introduced the term “chartjunk”, which I can best describe as adding decorative, artistic, and/or unnecessary graphics to a data display. I started to disagree with Tufte when he said that most shading, hatching, or use of certain graphs to display data are considered chartjunk. Now Tufte had reasons for that classification, the main reason being that it causes optical vibrations, which is valid. But I think of everything Tufte listed to be chartjunk, some of it may be acceptable to use in certain field or contexts. Overall I enjoyed this paper very much, I found some of Tufte’s criticisms of certain displays to be quite humorous.
Doing a little research of my own, I was able to find a data display that might be considered chartjunk according to Tufte. The image is pictured below:
In this graph the author is plotting the sales in billions of dollars of fast food chains. Instead of using bars, lines, dots, etc. the author is using graphics of each chain’s logo. I think this would be considered major chartjunk by Tufte because those graphics display no real information about the data. Tufte would also be upset about the blue background because it is non-data ink which lowers the percentage of data-ink.
A discussion question I have is: Is it bad to use graphics or being artistic while making a visual display of data? It seems like Tufte frowned upon it.
In Blair’s paper, The Possibility and Actuality of Visual Arguments, the existence of visual arguments were being examined. Blair starts out the essay by claiming that there are no reasons why visual arguments cannot exist. Blair then goes on to explain exactly what an argument is and what it must entail, according to O’Keefe’s concept of argument. An argument, whether verbal, visual, or whatever must include certain explicit properties. Those properties are: (1) there is a claim; (2) there is a reason or there are reasons for the claim; (3) the reason(s) is(are) linguistically explicable and overtly expressed; (4) the claim is linguistically explicable; (5) there is an attempt to communicate the claim and reason(s) (Blair p. 24). Blair then goes on to pick apart every aspect of visual arguments and goes to show examples of visual pieces that may or may not be visual arguments. Blair displayed that a lot of famous works of art might be often thought to display arguments, but in actuality they just make statements or propositions. But Blair was able to find some examples that were indeed visual arguments. My favorite example was the Benetton advertisement from The New Yorker. The visuals provided were able to convey an argument, against racism, to the audience. To conclude the essay, Blair stated that visual arguments do exist, but should not be expected to be found automatically in every visual context.
While reading this essay I was most intrigued about the different examples which may or may not be considered visual arguments. This led me to look for examples of visual pieces that may convey an argument. Here is a picture I found:
In this example there is a line of nine cigarettes, which are decreasing in size (from left to right) because of being smoked and burnt. As the line progresses the cigarettes become smaller, more burnt and disgusting looking. The claim being made from this picture is that cigarettes are harmful to your health. The reason supporting this claim is that as time progresses smoking cigarettes shortens your life while doing hazardous and disgusting things to your body. I feel that Blair’s essay has really helped my understanding of recognizing visual arguments and deciphering what arguments that they are trying to convey.