Summer Thesis Thoughts: Version 2

June 20, 2008

Over the week I read through the book, Visualizing Data by Edward Tufte. Although the book is slightly dated and was written before the advanced use of computers for graphics and data processing, it provides some strong base fundamentals for visualizing information:

A few key notes from the research:

– data thin design provoke suspicions and about the quality of measurement and analysis

– it talks about the micro/macro readings of narratives of space and time – something I will most likely focus my thesis

– designs should be so good that the building blocks are practically invisible to the viewer

– consumers of graphics are more intelligent about information at hand than those who fabricate data decoration

– visual experiences that are universal, rooted in human information processing capacities, and the abundancy and intricacy of everyday perceptions

– high density designs allow viewers to select, narrate, recast, and personalize data for their own use – control the information given to viewers

– data thing displays move viewers toward ignorance and passivity and diminish the credibility of source

– we seek rich texture of data with a comparative context that presents an understanding of complexity revealed within an economic means

– it’s important to find design strategies that reveal detail and complexity, not fault data for an excess of complication or fault viewers

– visual relationships must be in relevant proportion and harmony to the susbstance of the ideas, evidence, and data conveyed.

Still very stuck on the work of the Pew Research Center, as it relates to my first semester mini-thesis project. I’ve been reading their daily data releases, and have found that most of their journals refer to the media/news coverage vs news interest findings more or less as “narratives of the American image” that were most prevalent in media every week (their measurements are one week behind real time data collection). One of today’s articles talked about America’s ever-changing image and reputation among foreign countries, especially since the toll on America’s economy is affecting so many other countries. I’m interested in and thinking about focusing on the “narratives of the American image” idea, but from the public news interest perspective. This feeds into my original idea of visualizing anecdotal data. Still need some feedback about this and to further develop this idea.

Really hit home with the work of this guy:


Definitely looking to do something a bit more generative, real-time and interactive, but this is totally in my direction of thought.

Since I’ve been delving into my internship and observing the design and development process of several websites and interactive applications, I’ve been soaking a deeper awareness, understanding of information architecture and concept development and the psychology that drives it. There is a significant amount of discussion on content development, strategy, and how to best represent vast concepts and information. As I’ve been trying to pick a thesis concept direction, or rather narrow it down and figure out why I am possibly choosing this direction, I think the reason I’m so inclined to lean towards focusing my thesis on data visualization technology is because of the reasons I fell into design in the first place. I am continuously fascinated on how graphic design can compile a strong idea into an instantly affective visual display. The same way that’s possible, I’m fascinated with how micro observations or generative data can be translated into an interface that translates that information into a design portraying an overall idea about that particular data that can only be understood on that platform.


One comment

  1. Hi there, WordPress suggested this post – glad it did. Very interesting šŸ™‚

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