CDI – Weeks 3 and 4 Thoughts

Weeks 3 and 4 of the trimester just flew by! I guess it didn’t help that I have spent 7 out of the 14 nights at the snow. I have fallen a little bit behind over the past fortnight, and haven’t had enough time to really explore the material and do the activities, other than the assessable ones. Hopefully I will have the time and the motivation to play catch up later on.

In Week 3 we studied design activism, which was interesting but nowhere near as interesting as I found the data visualisation topic. Design definitely has a role to play in activism as both the vehicle for communicating important messages, providing symbols for people to get behind and unite under, and also by making statements through art, posters, magazines, etc.

In Week 4 we studied design language, which was actually more about branding and logo design. I feel that there is a LOT more in this topic than what was covered in the learning materials and the readings. Part of the material was to watch the film Helvetica, which talks about the history of the font and how it’s used absolutely everywhere. It was quite interesting, and I decided that I do like Helvetica. Sometimes you want a font just to be there and not say anything, you know what I mean? I prefer clean fonts, and Helvetica is attractive in its simplicity and neutrality (is that a word? If not, I just made it one!).

Data Visualisation Task

This week’s task is to track our movements in the house or the workplace over the course of the week, and then share the data visually with the group. I chose the house option, as I don’t really walk around my office very much at all. I must admit that I didn’t include every single movement, because quite often I’d go to a room for 10 seconds just to grab something… and also I didn’t want to spend the week attached to my spreadsheet so I only made my entries a few times a day and just worked off my memory of where I’d been.

I decided to use a website to produce my data visualisation, as I wasn’t happy with what MS Excel had to offer. Apparently it can do more than what I’ve used before… but I just couldn’t get it to work. I found a website – Raw Graphs – where you can paste in your data and then select your graph type, and then you can just embed the result. Easy!


The above graphic shows my movements within the house from Monday to Friday, with the left side being the room I was coming from, and the right side showing the room I was going to. The thickness of the line shows the number of times I made that particular transition. This is an “alluvial” diagram, which¬†presents flows and allows correlations between categorical dimensions to be shown, visually linking to the number of elements sharing the same categories (definition from Raw Graphs).


This one is a “Circle Packing” diagram, which shows nested circles and the size of the circles allows for easy visual comparisons to be made. The five outer circles represent a day each (the day label can be seen in the centre of the circle, some are quite hard to see), and the inner coloured circles represent the number of minutes within each room. I think this diagram would be more effective without the labels, but the website doesn’t output a legend and without that, it’s not clear what you’re looking at.

From this graph you can see that the day I spend the most time at home is Monday, because that’s my study day. Wednesday and Thursday are the smallest because both nights I went out and spent a few hours at the dog club. Friday has lots of small circles because I was doing chores and moving from room to room a lot.

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.

CDI – Week 1 Thoughts

Here we go! Teaching Period 2 of 2017, my second trimester of my Bachelor of Design degree… my fourth (or maybe it’s equal fifth?) subject in this scary but exciting new world. I’m also taking Typography, and both subjects require me to keep a blog, so I’m multitasking and using this same blog for both. Let’s hope it doesn’t get confusing.

This week in Contemporary Design Issues is a general overview of the subject. There are a lot of issues, and many of them I haven’t heard of. This subject promises lots of reading and I really hope I keep on top of things, unlike Packaging last TP.

There are a lot of due dates in this subject. But yet there are less than Packaging. Every week I’m required to read something and then write a short response to it. This week is the¬†First things first manifesto and a response penned by Michael Beirut in 2007. The manifesto itself is only a page, and the response is 3.5 pages, totally doable! The hard part will be condensing my thoughts into 200 words… that’s really not a lot of words!