CDI – Week 2 Thoughts

This week is all about data visualisation. It’s pretty neat stuff! The gist of it is taking a lot of data which would be super boring to look at in it’s raw form, shaping it into something meaningful and interesting, and presenting it in a pretty graphical form.

Our learning materials consisted of two Ted talks and a chapter from a textbook (Form + code in design, art and architecture by Reas & McWilliams, 2010).

The first Ted Talk was by Aaron Koblin, and he showed a few different examples of data visualisation work that he’d been involved in. I especially liked the crowd-sourcing aspect of his work – The Johnny Cash Project – where people could select one frame from a Johnny Cash video clip and hand draw it, then the video clip can be watched with all the hand drawn images in sequence. The individual styles of each submission makes the end product both chaotic and beautiful at the same time.

The second Ted Talk was by Hans Rosling, who took somewhat mundane statistics – the child mortality rate and the wealth of a country – and showed how these statistics affected each other over time in a number of different countries. It was interesting to compare the statistics over time, and presenting the data visually is really a lot more effective than just presenting tables and spreadsheets.

The reading material seemed like a lot at first, but it had lots of large images showing examples of data visualisation. Some were informative, but a lot of them were visually interesting but did not communicate the data clearly. Even after reading the captions under some of the images, I still had no idea what I was looking at. I think that many of these cases would have been more effective if I could interact with them, rather than just see a static picture of the output.

One of the activities to do this week is to track our movements inside the home or workplace over the course of a week, and present the data visually. The example shown has a plan of a house on it, with coloured lines showing the paths taken between the rooms. The lines are colour coded for AM and PM. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to present my data yet, so I am logging my movements around my house on a spreadsheet, keeping track of what time I am moving, what room I am coming from, what room I am going to, how long I spend in that room, and the reason I’m in that room. It’s turning out to be a lot more movements than originally expected! I’ll have to figure out how to present it so that I can upload it on Saturday. I can’t do a full week as I will be at the snow from Sunday.

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