Author: Triston

Oh Crap

I found Wysoki’s document a good refresher for the CRAP principles, and why they work. I also found Wysoki’s tone personal, but not helpful to the document. While there was merit to most everything in this article, at the very beginning I laughed because while it is true that your eye indeed stops there and atheistic does help this happen, really the fact that there is a half naked woman on the page does more to draw attention, than “the lightest… large round shape”.

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The definition of a good graphic is ultimately an opinion, so how can any one technique be perfect?

 

Anyways Wyoski continues to contrast Williams’ principles against Arnheim/Bang’s,  and Kant, and ultimately (unless I missed her point (which is entirely possible)) I think the point is, there is no perfect way to design a graphic, but if you can argue why you did what you did, then chances are you have eliminated many of the obstacles that cause ineffective graphics. So, the overlying insight that can be taken away is that there is really no forty-two (ultimate answer) to what a perfect graphic is, however, what separates good from bad is the thought into how they are prepared.

A question I have would be what are some principles/ techniques you use to create graphics that may lie outside the basic CRAP principles?

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The Shadowy Predator

I found Jenkins’s article quite interesting, as it covered a few of the issues that are associated with open media platforms. The focus of the article was YouTube and the effects it has had on “old media” as well as separate from old media. The issue surrounding CNN using YouTube to involve the public was not so much people having a problem with concept but rather people feeling censored by the fact that their question (whether they submitted or someone else had the same or similar question) was not asked and the outlier question (in this case a question asked using snowmen) was asked as what the dissidents would view as in place of their question. I feel that in any case (ie: the snowman video was not shown) that someone would have had a problem with the videos chosen for the same reason, their particular question was not chosen.

 

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The root of all evil

However YouTube as an open system makes for a very interesting topic when it comes to amateurs, semi-professional, and professional video makers, posting their work in a common area for the public to view. I appreciated the comment that open does not mean diverse, and I would agree that while anyone can post,

 

  • not everyone has the means to post
  • not everyone does post
  • those who do post will likely reach few people

These are very important factors to take into account when comparing and open system to a diverse system. To focus on the last point, naturally, you as a user will look for videos that interest you limiting the diversity of the videos you will see. When a friend recommends you watch a video (if you have good friends) it is likely something that falls into one of the categories that most of the content you watch falls into. Further yet, as videos are recommended based on previous videos watched (or other places you have been online (or if you have a smartphone likely places you have physically been)) the scope of the type of videos you will watch is further limited as you will be given content you are interested in rather than a diverse selection of videos. This functionality and flow cause a user to see content that is fundamentally the same as everything else that they view, ultimately censoring content that would give the user a more diverse sense of varying viewpoints.

Something I would like know more about would be, in an environment where content is forcibly censored, is there significantly less continuous watching (binge watching) of content on a site like YouTube or does it remain pretty consistent?

Oh and yes the title was just click bait, courtesy of an online title generator.

Fact vs. Fact

Ding’s article focused on communication of vital information in an atmosphere where media coverage is restricted. Ding focuses specifically on the SARS outbreak in China, an outbreak in which the Government restricted the communication concerning the danger and specifics of the outbreak. This caused people to transmit information on their own, causing the information to become skewed and since people had nothing to reference as a reliable source, the messages received became exaggerated and solutions were proposed that people latched onto that were invalid. I was actually reminded of the social  media posts made by ill informed users (ie: “Facebook is transitioning to a paid model, if you do not repost this to your wall, you will lose access and be required to pay $22 a month for the service. CODE: FRF^#434%^#FW”). Fundamentally it is the same issue, with the key difference being typically the social media user could have done research and does not have their life at stake. This stated when trying to communicate the nature of a disaster with no real information available, rumors are bound to appear, and wild inaccuracies are given the perfect breeding ground for which to raise their young (and the drama gets real).

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Cue the calliope

 

Ding then lists many different examples of private media messages, and how some were based in fact, but as they were transmitted the truth they contained was altered and over time caused much of the transmitted information to be wildly inaccurate. In an atmosphere where public knowledge is restricted, this is bound to happen. While it is important to get the information out there, I would argue that the message should not have been expected to remain consistent when relayed over something as misinterpretable as text messages. The issue then becomes how to communicate an important message efficiently, and accurately in an environment where the media is controlled by the government, and that government opposes the important message.

A question that I have would be how does one communicate clearly with a wide population while maintaining anonymity for safety, when presenting a message the government is trying to squash, especially with no open resources such as the internet. In the same manner is there a way to communicate with the masses even at the cost of anonymity?

Pathos vs. Logos | Author vs. Reader

I found this reading quite interesting. Recently I have begun working on a single page online, interactive resume. Currently, a lot of the data I have included is statistical and does not focus on how individuals and groups of people have been affected by my work. Segel and Heer’s document, however, makes it clear that people are more likely to remember stories than individual statistics. This is not a point I would argue against as personally if I stop and think about it, I can remember and reiterate stories I have been told with much more accuracy than statistics I have been given.

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An author driven experience often takes the form or a slideshow with few options for the user to choose from. (ie: navigation buttons)

 

In section 2.3 Storytelling with Data Visualization, one thing the caught my attention were quotes reflecting how effective stories are in contrast to statistical data,

“I think people have begun to forget how powerful human stories are, exchanging their sense of empathy for a fetishistic fascination with data, networks, patterns, and total information… Really, the data is just part of the story. The human stuff is the main stuff, and the data should enrich it.”   -Jonathan Harris

Segel/ Heer go on to state Harris defines story loosely and spend a nice chunk of the remaining section defining what a story is. In relation to my resume project I have decided to make the main content area focus on the “story” or the effects of my work on people with the statistical data available with user interaction, as opposed to leaving out the effect on other people, and focusing entirely on the statistics.

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User-driven experiences give many options for the user to interact with the information, with minimal or no ordering of frames or scenes.

 

Throughout the rest of the document Segel/ Hill spend a lot of time on case studies that support their previous points. Eventually, they discuss genres of narrative visualization, and this section caught my attention as well. There are two primary genres given, Author-Driven, and Reader-Driven. Author driven would consist of a slideshow type of feeling, with user options limited and a timeline style where every frame or scene has another that follows in a specified order. The other style Reader (User)/ Driven is very free, allowing users to pick and choose which scenes they view, the order they see them in, and what content they dive deeper into.

I would be interested to know what the preference of the user is when it comes to Author-Driven vs. User-Driven experiences. My preference is user driven, and I have a feeling this may be the common consensus, however, the article did not list evidence pointing to one being more effective or even preferred over the other.

The right way to show data

The main point Tufte had was it is incredibly easy to make a design mistake that causes people not to understand the point being made. This can be because of poor visualization techniques, or data that simply shows the assertion is wrong. He also covered how easy it is to create misleading information, using the cholera death toll data as an example. He shows the data gathered daily which would portray no significant outcome from the removal of the Broad Street pump handle but proceeds to show how it could be made to look significant if depicted weekly.

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a truly fantastic example of misleading graphs

Tufte also covers how some depictions of data simply are not effective. I would disagree with the assertion that the is a best way to display any data. There may be a common consensus for certain types of data, but for different people, different visualizations will be more effective. This does not mean that all graphics are equal, or even effective, but to say that there is one version of a data visualization that is the best for a type of data simply is not the case.

I would be interested in seeing studies on comparisons of differing visualizations and how they affect a population’s interpretation of the data.

Datavisapocalypse

The main points of Slobin, Harris, and Zer-Aviv combined into one simple point, do not discount the potential of using individuals to tell the story. The main question was do info-graphics, specifically those that take a bird’s eye view of mass casualty events cause the viewer to lose empathy for the victims. To make this point the writers presented various infographics, and then compared them to graphics that focused more on individuals, essentially allowing the viewer to feel more connected to the victim, as opposed to a depersonalizing dot on the screen. Zer-Aviv does however, make the point that visualizations do not need to be depersonalizing and includes Periscopic’s Gun Death Visualization which is effective at both helping people understand the scale of the issue, and does not reduce the victims to one dot or line. As it is an interactive graphic the user can filter the victims by demographic, as well as time period. If a user hovers over or clicks on a victim,they are given information about that person. This allows for the user to grasp the scale, without losing empathy for the victims as fellow individuals.

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while this graphic does present a lot of information, it does do a good job of creating empathy between the reader and the victims.

I do agree that in many cases a visualization is not as effective as images or information on a more individual basis. I think another (admittedly graphic) example of this can be seen when taking a world history class. The to help communicate the massive scale of the atrocities of the Holocaust designers have created many infographics to help viewers grasp the sheer volume of people who lost their life in this time. However, at least personally, I found that photographs of the victims were much more compelling, or powerful, and
allowed the malice of the events to become clear, even though the images only depicted a tiny fraction of the statistical mass of the atrocities.

Therefore I would agree that when creating infographics designers need to be careful not to dehumanize the victims, however it is possible to depict the size of an issue while maintaining empathy for individuals as seen in the Gun Death Visualization. The key to many graphics is finding a balance between the individuals and the group and using both of the to create the most effective graphic possible.

I would be interested to know what are some other examples of graphics that combine both birds eye views of the situation with individuals, and what are the effective elements, and what elements could be improved.

Static vs. Animated

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Animation depicting the Pythagorean theorem similar to that referenced in Tyversky’s document

There were several points throughout this article that I laughed at Tversky’s logic. He spent a good portion of his article presenting cited evidence that presents animation in a positive light, and then accuses the animation of cheating because it presents more information. In this way he missed the key benefit of animation, which simply put allows the creator to present more information in the same space. He even states,

“At first glance, for other studies evaluating static and animated graphics, the graphics appear comparable. But on close examination, the animated graphics present information not available in the static versions, in particular the details of the microsteps between larger steps.”

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“No fair, the animation moves more than a static image!” -Tyversky

In this statement Tversky unknowingly picks up the beauty in animated graphics which is the simple fact that they allow for a better more in depth visualization of data. Tversky continues to try to discredit studies that show the advantage of animation in academics using this line of thought. To his credit he recognizes that combining animation and interactivity are a powerful pair, however based on his logic he should accuse interactive animations as cheating as they allow the user to obtain more information than a standard animation.

Another topic Tyversky fails to cover is the ability animations have to capture the attention of the viewer, and the impact this can have in a capacities other than information. As we have seen in past articles animations grab the attention of a viewer because it is engaging, but also attention is a biological response to movement.

To address the question “what do you think are other advantages of animation?”, as stated above animation is great for information, but also for grabbing or directing attention, which serves useful when marketing, alerting, and many other applications. One question I have would be, specifically when using computers are there any default animations (like the spinning circle that replaces your cursor when the computer has to much on its plate) that are ineffective as suggested by Tyversky?