GDE720 - Week 4

GDE720 – Week 4 : Research

Following on from our analysis of the given infographics last week, we’re now looking at creating our own from a source we find interest in personally. This weeks topic, Projecting a New Perspective, Interpreting Emerging Trends has been fascinating in terms of research and understanding of what makes a good piece of visual information. It’s not just relying on the visual aspect of this data visualisation, but extensively researching a subject to make a surprising discovery. I love that inforgraphics have the ability to change mind sets, or make someone rethink the way they see the world or a topic.

Of course, the visual aspect to this project is vital, but it needs to come second to the research – at the end of the day, we’re getting as much information as we possibly can, chipping away at it to find common attributes to make the information clearer, and then we can start visualising it in a piece of design.

Joe Pochodzaj gave our lecture this week and it enhanced what I was already researching – that through creating visual data, we’re providing new perspectives on things we think we already know. Everyone has pre-determined judgements of issues or world politics and, quite often, that’s because of what we see in the media or social media. And, more often than not, this is censored to what we alreayd believe or lean towards – this dangerous manipulation of media coverage can cause us to not consider alternative views or opinions to give a more rounded perspective. Take McCandless’ presentation (last week I think) about creating his Left wing vs Right wing infographic, he had to accept that, despite leaning a certain way politically, he actually agreed with some of the other party’s opinions and he didn’t like it! It’s an uncomfortable truth but it’s a truth none-the-less.

As designers, when utilising personal data, we have a moral, ethical resonsibility with what we do with the data and how we might manipulate it depending on our believe or pre-judgements. Take, for example, the Census taken every 10 years. This can so easily be misappropriated or misued by the media to sway opinions one way or another, and, as seen with the News story in America about immigration, the emotive use of wording against the correct-looking data set leads to strong opinions that may not have been created by considering the whole picture.

Even the “truth checkers” out there have their own agenda and beliefs – so who’s truth are they checking the “facts” against? Who’s judging the facts and do we get to see all aspects of these truths to make our own opinion?

This year, I’ve probably seen the most amount of infographics of any other year in my life – this pandemic has meant every news outlet and media coverage contains at least one infographic. I’ve spent a lot of time exploring “Our World In Data” found here – they cover so many aspects of our world and break down the information into bite sized pieces. The facts they cover are correct and backed up appropriately and this is the most important aspect to data visualisation.

By forecasting and looking into trends, we’re able to understand the impact of a current situation on our future. Take, for example, the UK Police Crime Map – I used this when we were buying our house and never considered the impact it made on my choices. We live in York, a remarkably low-crime city but still we ruled out certain areas because of what showed up on this map. Considering now, how this one map affected and labelled an area shows the impact it can have.

I found a lot of inspiration in Edward De Bono’s Quote:

Graphs and informative data is all fine, but we need to consider other ways of telling a story – similarly to the Covid datasets I see every day, I’m still looking at the 100,000+deaths stats as just numbers, just figures. I feel when we eventually break away from lockdowns, we’ll see numerous exhibitions utilising social distancing, emotive displays and tangible showpieces to relay how we all felt during these times. It’s been interesting watching the lecture knowing it was created in 2019 before any of this. I’m intrigued to see what the next few years hold in terms of exhibitions and emotive data displays.

We’ve come across Migrant Journals in almost every Module so far! I love their work and it’s especially relevant for this project. By looking at how they effectively take huge data sets and information and break down these topics of huge importance shows how effective clear, concise and emotive data visualisation can affect the way we view the world.

As DiSalvo so perfectly wrote:

Information design is the practice of giving form to data so that the data becomes meaningful”

DiSalvo, C. (2012) page 30.

This, for me sums up exactly what we’re trying to do this week. It’s creating humanism from numbers and data sets. It’s making someone see a subject in a new light. It’s changing perceptions and perspectives by simplifying a topic.


Bibliography

Our World in Data. (2016). Our World in Data. [online] Available at: https://ourworldindata.org/.

It’s Nice That (2018), Nicer Tuesdays: Offshore Studio , [online] 12 June, (Accessed: 7th December 2018)

DiSalvo, Carl (2012), ‘Chapter 2: Revealing Hegemony: Agonistic Information Design’ in Adversarial Design (Links to an external site.)(Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press).

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