Author: young295

Why Does Everyone Hate Design Principles?

I was immediately very excited to read this article because in the beginning there is a heavy focus on design principles such as Williams’ four principles from The Non-Designer’s Design Book. I have actually read excerpts from that book in my AP Studio Art class in high school, and the themes Williams focuses on are extremely important when designing something appealing. I became excited because based on our past readings in this class I knew that somehow Wysocky would find a way to dispute these traditional and accepted principles.

And oh boy did she argue. Or rather she agreed with some other people. The argument came in quickly that these four major principles were a product of designers looking to standardize and rationalize their actions in design. And to a certain extent I do agree with this. I don’t want to walk down the street and see twenty posters that all look the same, but I think having standards of good or bad design and letting designers use their own personal touch is what allows design to stay a progressive medium. What I heavily disagree with though is the argument that design is driven by the want or need to be efficient. Maybe in the case that you want your advertisement to efficiently sell your product, but designers are not driven to follow the four main principles of deign to be efficient in their work. The process of design is meticulous and the principles are not exactly simple to follow. If designers were driven only by efficiency then a lot of posters and advertisements would be black text on a white background saying “buy our product, it ‘s better than the competitor”.

In these two advertisements there is a stark difference in old design and modern design. It is clear that in the modern design the four principles are followed more closely than in the older advertisement. There is clear contrast between the bottles and the background with the aid of a lot of negative space being used, the bottles are repeated, they are all aligned the same, and all the elements are close together but spaced enough to feel separate and not crowded.

Wysocky also touches on something that many people don’t consider when thinking about design. Philosophy plays a large part in design because designers are able to create appealing visuals based on concepts and understanding from our everyday lives that give us sensations. We can also draw a sense of duty and reason from design based on these sensations. Then in Kant’s third critique, that of judgement, it is argued that with a sensation of pleasure, it is our judgement that can then join that sensation to the design. Kant’s critiques are a combination of natural concepts and our human decision making process. Kant argues that these two things are not separate and so when we see that “nature and law are harmonized, it is beautiful” (Wysocky, n.d.).

Do you think design will always follow the four main principles we currently follow, or will designers begin to use more and more abstract principles?

Better or Worse?

This article speaks on something that I touched on in the second Tufte article blog post, but in a slightly different way. In that post I discussed how data can be articulated in various different ways in order to portray a different massage each time. In this article the Chinese government was hiding the fact that so many citizens were being affected by SARS. So in a way the government is construing the raw data (as in the number of sick people) by hiding it completely.

Obviously some people must have known that people were getting sick, but the government was just hiding the number. So the way I feel these two articles is that raw data was there but being shown to the public as though there was no issue. This article then speaks on issues of power of white lies in data manipulation. How can you ever know if the data you are receiving is in it’s truest form? This is a great example of why the original John Snow map is so important.

These days media plays on people’s emotions because it is so easy to convince people that the data or statistics you show them are true. Its not just data visualization though, it’s how much they focus on a certain subject. In a way, the current United States political race is similar to this situation in that a lot of the large media platforms focus heavily on anti-Trump stories. When you feed the public twenty stories of what Trump has done wrong and twenty stories of what Hillary has done right then of course people will begin to believe that Trump has only done wrong and Hillary has only done right.

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The ability for the media to decide what subject they focus on works in the same way as misconstruing data in order to play on people’s emotions. It’s ridiculous that we need people outside of mainstream media to give us the real raw data just like the guerrilla media. And it is dangerous; as we can see from the SARS incident where the public outrage probably turned out to be greater than if the mainstream media had released helpful data.

W

I… Like… Tufte?

I opened up the reading and saw that there were 29 pages of my most disliked author from this course so far, and I already felt defeated before even reading anything. But actually this reading turned out to be a very interesting insight into data visualization. I want to focus on John Snow’s Cholera data collection portion of the reading, because I think I learned the most from that part.

It is incredible how easily someone could misrepresent one set of data. You could take a set of data numbers and put them in three different charts, and it would seem that each chart ends up portraying a different message. It is interesting that Tufte is the one to write about this because surely part of restricting data ink would be finding the best way to minimalistically represent a set of data. But how minimalistic can you go before you change the message you are trying to portray with your data set. This is something I had never really thought about as something to worry about in data visualization but it is extremely important. By aggregating visualization s differently, people were able to skew Snow’s original chart of cholera deaths and make it look more like the removal of the Broad Street pump handle was the cause for the decline of cholera deaths. In the original chart, though, it is actually difficult to tell if removing the pump handle had any effect at all.

misleading1_yaxis

These two graphs are the same data, but just by changing the scale of the percentages on the y-axis, one could change the meaning completely of the graph. On the left there is a clear increase in interest rates from about 3.141% to 3.152% over 4 years. But on the right there is no way that any viewer could see that change because of the scale, so if one person looked at the right and could see no change they would probably think that interest rates had stayed the same for those years, but that is a lie because as you can see on the left, interest rates have changed significantly. So a lending company would rather use a graph like the one on the right because it misleads people to think that if they join that bank, their interest rate would not go up, since the trend of previous years supports that, when in fact they could be getting lied to.

This was definitely one reading where I put aside my beef with Tufte and did not think about the visually appealing aspects of data visualization. But that leads me to have an interesting question. Can designers use excessive visuals and images to skew the meaning of data?

Tufte has So Many Names!

So the overarching attitude I read from these articles is that the journalists who wrote them are talking about a very select few examples, and each of their examples is a bad example. I really disagree with this type of journalism because it is the same thing that mainstream media does to many stories in the news where they only focus on very negative actions. Instead of talking about these bad examples but then also contrasting them with great examples of visual data, they grossly generalize all data visualization to be as bad as the few examples they gave.

In Slobin’s article, she outlines a story that she had worked on in which she had tried to quantify and represent data about these children with the horrible disease. Of course if you are trying to create empathy in a piece of work, using images of the children is going to be more powerful than a pretty infomercial, but the data portion of the research is still prevalent and important information. Using a combination of pictures of the kids and data visualization would have been the most powerful way to get the message of how much these people are struggling. The images get the audience to empathize, then the data give more information about what effects the disease has, how many are affected, and what went wrong.

In Harris’ article, he gives the example of the map with Baghdad car bombings as an example. And my immediate response was to wonder how dumb he is for including an example that was found on a click bait twitter account. OF COURSE IT WAS GOING TO BE WRONG. That was my first issue, and secondly, the visual was not even appealing, it was in fact a terrible example of what one should do to create an empathetic data visualization.

Brain size infographic

An info-graphic like this is a terrific way for anyone to actually see the relationships in size and actual number mass of various animals’ brains. And the empathetic message here is that the size of the brain itself is not what determines the intelligence of the animal but  the ratio of the body size to brain size. This gets viewers to really think about our human intelligence compared to animals much larger or smaller than us.

I was pretty heated about these articles because this is yet more people who do not really understand what design really offers and only care about the data. Design IS there to offer deeper understanding for people who cannot process a bunch of numbers in their head. Data visualization is extremely important in getting people to understand the scale and scope of your data. a paragraph about the number of deaths per year from not vaccinating children would not be nearly as powerful as a visual where people can see a physical size difference between deaths of kids who are not vaccinated versus vaccinated kids.

What example can you think of where it would not be beneficial to combine empathetic images and data visualization?

Tufte? Is that you?

As I tried to suggest with my title, it almost seems that Tversky is arguing a similar thing as Tufte in that animation would be too much embellishment when trying to represent something graphically, and so more of the “ink” should be dedicated to a more simple representation of what the graphic trying to depict. In the introduction to the paper, though she states, “animated graphics convey more information or involve interactivity” which would suggest to me that obviously animations are better right? Well it turns out that somehow involving interactivity and providing more information is a bad thing and animations are somehow less successful in portraying information than static graphics.

Since I see Tversky’s topic as similar to Tufte’s I have the same sorts of arguments. Animated graphics CAN portray more information and Tversky’s argument that animations are too fast does not apply to every single animation in the world. There are definitely animations, such as the CDC earthquake and flood animations, that are paced extremely well and give plenty of screen time to show what do in certain situations. And even if an animation isn’t paced especially well, in most iterations, the viewer is able to pause an animation to take a longer look at a certain step. But the point of an animation is too provide appealing visuals that catch the eye of the viewer so that they’re hooked and immersed into the information. A designer could create an incredible infographic poster, but the same thing in an animated form is going to be more eye catching because motion is appealing to humans.

Earlier in the class we discussed a reading that specifically attacked pie charts as not useful in properly portraying information. But animation could be very useful in showing the viewer exactly what a pie chart is trying to portray.

newsletter_graph_0022

For example the pie chart in this animation could be a survey about different sodas that people prefer. Let’s say the red section is Coke. The animation of the chart turning into the soda is definitely a cute and appealing way to take the depth of the information a little further. With just the information on the screen, the viewer may get bored or become uninterested, but with extra animations and other elements such as music to set a tone, or voice over to avoid the viewer reading tons of text, the viewer will stay interested at least until the end of the video.

Are there any examples of information represented as a static graphic that works better than an animated version of the same thing?

Mendelsohn Didn’t Think out her Argument Very Well.

Nicola Mendelsohn’s argument that video will completely replace text has some ground. But as a reader of this article one has to focus on the fact that Mendelsohn is talking in terms of Facebook. And in this case I fully agree with this theory because I have been hearing a lot of hate towards the way Facebook’s algorithms are behaving these days. So what Handley says in her counter article about Facebook focusing their algorithms to show users more videos seems very convincing and makes a lot of sense.

Now I’m not the biggest reader, I hardly ever read novels or other types of books for leisure, and don’t really even read books when I’m supposed to for class either. But I cannot learn absolutely everything from video. In a social platform and sense, video works extremely well because it can definitely represent more than a paragraph of text. For example seeing a controversial video of a dog attacking someone is going to have way more influence than a text post maybe simply because there is immediate proof in front of the user. But what if there isn’t a video? There definitely won’t always be a video. But I think this example really only works with a video of some sort of action. For example if it was a video of someone sitting in front of a camera talking about the dog attack, it would have about as much impact as a paragraph of text. This is true because think about it, if people could sit in front of a camera and just talk about news then why do news shows on tv always show images and videos of proof.

But there are times when only words can suffice, and a video would seem out of place.

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Twitter is an excellent platform to give evidence to my theory. It would have seemed weird I think to have had Meek Mill fire up a webcam and say these words then post it on the internet. Of course he could have showed more emotion and stuff, but something about this just showing up on my twitter feed out of nowhere seems more real, while a video would have seemed weirdly rehearsed.

There’s no way video will ever completely take over especially with the current forms of social media unless the owners of those mediums ban writing. Part of the criteria for our current case study is that the video is still understandable without sound, and we are focusing a lot on typography and how important it is within video.

Do you think

Metaphorical Rhetoric

This was a pretty interesting reading for me. Currently in my COM 114 class we are doing simple explanation speeches and a large part of getting people to understand your subject is using a metaphor or analogy. So I think the most important part of this reading was discussing metaphors. The overall topic of this reading was to discuss the aim of visual rhetoric in what a visual is trying to communicate to the viewer. In this case it is then important to present information to the viewer “in a way that it enhances the meaning creation process”(Lengler-Moore, 590).

Arguably one of the best ways to communicate a difficult or hard to understand idea to an audience is by trying to relate that idea to something more well known and more well understood by the audience. While a huge part of coming up with metaphor is also to understand your audience, you can never find one blanket metaphor that absolutely everyone will follow. For example coming up with a metaphor for an audience under the age of ten would be much more difficult than coming up with a metaphor for a group over the age of fifty. Lengler and Moore cite a group of simple rules that make metaphors effective from the authors of a meta-analysis, Sopory and Dillard. These guidelines were based on maximizing persuasive impact in oral and written examples, but definitely still apply to visual rhetoric. They state that to maximize the impact of a metaphor, the audience must be familiar with the metaphor; the metaphor is novel; the base is extended (i.e. to use multiple examples in the metaphor); it has only one theme; and it is used at the start of the message.

good-visual-metaphor

This is a great example of a visual metaphor that encompass the rules above. Everyone know what a cupcake is and that cupcakes can come in many ways; they do not necessarily have to have icing or a cherry on top. So the metaphor here is that they got the order, which is the base cupcake. Like i said that the icing was extra, so is the fact that this company also got the contract for one year. And the cherry on top is that they will receive the payment in advance.

So by showing this picture it is obvious that these same guidelines for creating  persuasive metaphors can definitely apply to visual rhetoric, and very powerfully. Do you think that metaphors can in fact be more powerful with visuals than with simple oral or written metaphor?