Week 32/33 Summary of Design Work.

So we are now in the final week of Design 2 module, with all briefs having been completed or being finished off, now I’m going to provide a summary of the work covered in the last three months.

The first brief was split into two halves, the first of those was a short brief that involved two main tasks to produce a Data Wall and to create a 16pp Zine based under the theme we were given called ‘Interactive Billboards’ individual to our group.

The first session was a brilliantly busy and productive day in the studio where we were placed with new tutors and in new groups, the data wall was a group task involving the new team. It was a running theme this semester to research topics and then analyse and present our findings in different outcomes therefore most our work was based in the collect section of the 5C model followed by comprehension on the tasks, there were also moments where we would carry on through to concept and create towards the conclusions of the briefs.

We got to visit the Design Museum early in the semester and see four different exhibitions while I was there, little did I know one of the exhibitions I was casually viewing may have crossovers with what I’m tackling in my final project.

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Figure 1: Neue – Passport Redesign (The Guardian, 2014)

The exhibition that inspired me the most was the Designs of the Year 2016 exhibition. I really liked the project that redesigned the Norweigan Passport, I really thought they did an outstanding job in modernising a very static formal document and breathing new life and ideas in how a passport can look without losing any of it’s sense of tradition and importance.

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Figure 2: Fear and Love (happinessinmay, 2016)

Another exhibit that interested in me was in Fear and Love and the response robot that was protected by a shelter, it was an expensive installation and it’s movements could cause real harm if you were too close to it, but it’s behaviour and interest in those that walked up to it and past it were interesting, it also gave me a real emotive feeling of sadness to see it isolated and secluded within it’s display space, like a kind sociable person who just ends up feeling very lonely and overlooked in society by it’s peers.

The zine was mostly an independent learning task where we took what we discovered from the data wall and turned that research into a lo-fi outcome summarising the parts of the research we found interesting and organised that into a narrative.

Our work had shifted in the second semester to look at Speculative Critical Design (SCD) as part of that when looking at Design Fiction, the Future Mundane was a subject that interested me with the talk of utopian and distopian future scenarios created as a result of SCD design. I liked the idea that we look to accumulate rather than replace our worldly possessions, that we should focus on the background talent over just the hero characters that we tend to focus on visual and written media forms and that things are never perfect, there will always be problems in how we interact with things whether the item itself has it’s flaws or how we use the item evolves from it’s original purpose with both positive and negative implications.

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Figure 3: A Superflux video called ‘Uninvited Guests’ (Superflux, 2015) was particularly inspiring as part of this subject and was our aspiration for the creation of our own video projects.

The second part of the brief was bookended with a session from Kin design, the workshop day in particular was a fun experience full of quick tasks to stimulate our imagination and develop further our thoughts about the research from the first part of the brief.

We had to work to a very fast schedule to produce a one minute long video, it was very challenging to initially create a storyboard that might be suitable for a video to be made, much to my delight my own storyboard was the one that was chosen.

This video project provided my first experience of using Adobe after effects and it was a steep learning curve intitially to get my head around it. To turn my storyboard into a video, I took on the the role as the lead actor in the video and was the target for the personal adverts that the interactive billboards were displaying to me. I was very satisfied with the outcome to this project, it was challenging but we had achieved a successful video beaten by a video that had a simple story but well presented with editing tools and even a sense of humour that made it the rightful victor.

The next brief was to create an exhibition on Data Visualisation based on the theme of the City of Winchester, we were given Winchester high street, this was a challenging project as our group had struggled to maintain the standard of teamwork we exhibited in the video project.

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Figure 4: Napoleon’s Invasion of Russia by Charles Joseph Minard (Menase, 2013)

In the build up to this project I was interested in the fact that a lot of the best examples of data visualisation in practice are actually from really far in the past, I was particularly inspired by Charles Joseph Minard’s work on the French campaign of Russia in 1812-13. Good data visualisation follows the word ASK – Accurate, story and knowledge. It was also interesting that a lot of tools used for data visualisation remind me exactly of how you would plan and construct a video project, seeming as both are visual presentations of information this makes a lot of sense.

Often I found myself being flexible and adapting my approach to make sure that the project had some kind of unity with mixed success. While I didn’t particularly enjoy this brief as much as I enjoy working on exhibitions, I still did learn a lot about myself, particularly that I do come up with good ideas and sometimes turn my back on them too easily. I also tested my approach to difficult group work when the team isn’t working smoothly with mixed success, an experience that I will take away with me and hopefully grow on as inevitably in the workplace this will happen again at various times in the future.

The third brief ran over the Easter break and this was when the focus shifted to look at our Final project. My intial final project in my own opinion was too outcome focused and I had to adapt my approach to finally work in a manner that I would call research led and that was the key skill in my opinion being taught to us over the course of this semester.

I chose the topic of Transmedia Storytelling as topic for the final project during this time, what was interesting about the subject wasn’t so much the obvious examples I was aware of but really creative uses of this topic for activism, memory and education. An example of this was a very personal and wonderfully presented insight into a former mining town that no longer exists after the industry closed down in that town called Pine Point.

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Figure 5: Welcome to Pine Point (The Goggles, 2017)

The presentation was straight forward in construction but it was a good process to start to unravell my various thoughts about my final project and opened the door to the current project which I know feel very positvely about moving forward into the summer.

Other key skills tested were public speaking which I feel very comfortable with and organisation and time management, I feel like I’m strong in both areas and know how to pace myself but to develop those skills and feel futher confidence in them is something that this project did help me with.

The final brief which is drawing to a close as we speak is to produce a research magazine for the final project which I shall continue with over the summer as part of my assessment for the final project itself. This task involves a combination of comprehending our findings from earlier research, supported by research into new areas to continue the development of the project.

We got to enjoy a pass to this year’s D&AD festival, my personal highlight was meeting one of my favourite illustrators David Shrigley and getting to hear his approach to his work and projects from the past, his work is very strong in personality and styled as a result, what I really noticed was how his illustrations connect so literally to his sense of humour and musings about the work subjects he is approached to work on. I like how he remains very true to himself no matter what he does in his career. His work is much more successful as a result of this.

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Figure 6 – David Shrigley Fiat 500 Adverts (Coloribus.com, 2009)

What surprised me was the amount of research I had already gathered, the challenge to convert that using graphic design skills to easily communicate to new readers to the subject was a good challenge, it works on your narrative skills to show your journey through your work, it should hopefully reveal the next steps in which to explore next and it should help to develop skills where you can present information about any topic in concise interesting outcomes visually on the pages of the magazine to maintain the readers interest.

At this point I feel very satisfied with my own personal contributions to the briefs individually and as part of a group. I’m starting the process of exploring a very interesting topic for my final project and I’m interested to see where that will take me over the upcoming months.

References:

Coloribus.com. (2009). Fiat 500: “NOT EXACT” Print Ad by Krow Communications. [online] Available at: https://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/prints/fiat-500-not-exact-15142805/ [Accessed 17 May 2017].

happinessinmay (2016). Fear and Love. [image] Available at: http://happinessinmay.com/2016/11/19/fear-and-love/ [Accessed 17 May 2017].

Menase, C. (2013). Charles Joseph Minard’s Flow Map. [image] Available at: http://articlesofmenase.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/charles-joseph-minards-flow-map.html [Accessed 17 May 2017].

Superflux (2015). Uninvited Guests. [image] Available at: https://vimeo.com/128873380 [Accessed 17 May 2017].

The Goggles (2017). Welcome to Pine Point. [image] Available at: http://pinepoint.nfb.ca/#/pinepoint [Accessed 17 May 2017].

The Guardian (2014). Norway’s new passport – already a design classic?. [image] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/nov/17/norway-new-passport-design [Accessed 17 May 2017].

Week 30 – David Shrigley ‘Good Ideas and Bad Ideas’ at the D&AD Festival 2017.

On Thursday last week I made my first appearance at the D&AD festival on Brick Lane in London. On the whole it was a really enjoyable experience, I got to observe many interesting things and participate in a number of activities in my time in London. The highlight was to hear a talk from one of my favourite Illustrators David Shrigley.

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Figure 1 – Arriving at the D&AD Festival 2017 (Lewis, 2017)

Now his talk was what I expected it to be me for the most part, humorous, dry and sarcastic much like the Illustrations that have made him so popular and big in Illustration. Despite this there were still a number of interesting points and insights to take away from his appearance.

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Figure 2 – Awaiting the start of the David Shrigley talk (Lewis, 2017)

The first thing I took away is that to be true to yourself and how you feel is important to stay sane in this industry. Sometimes his work was tongue in cheek and downright rude at times in relation to the brief he was asked to work on, yet his ability to illustrate humour so simply and directly means that he was able to get away with it and still meet the brief, he talked about his work for FIAT like it was a joke and couldn’t believe they accepted it from him, I myself used to work for FIAT and would be pushed around by panic decision making for the best part of a year like it was a life and death situation if we couldn’t meet their deadlines. It was an interesting contrast to hear in person.

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Figure 3 – David Shrigley Fiat 500 Adverts (Coloribus.com, 2009)

My memories of David Shrigley start with my flatmate covering his halls of residence with random doodles and scribbles and placing them in strange places inspired by Shrigley. After seeing more of his work online and on the television I also managed to visit his show at the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank in early 2012. This was my first opportunity to see him in person.

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Figure 4 – David Shrigley at the Hayward Gallery in 2012 (Southbankcentre.co.uk, 2012)

I enjoy his simple style and mockery of most things in a simple and direct way which is what makes it funny,  it’s very good comedy a lot of his work, he can make light of pretty dark topics and can deliver some great work with his observations on life that many of us have encountered, equally find annoying or empathise and can easily relate to his work in that respect.

There was one particular insight that he made that caught my attention and stuck with me, he mentioned during his talk that he thought ‘the diagram was a dying form’ (Shrigley, 2017) and that this was regretable, my first thought was that I just didn’t believe that was true and that surely there aren’t many better ways for children to learn than through diagrams especially in the likes of Biology and Geography in particular.

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Figure 5 – David Shrigley talks at the D&AD Festival 2017 (Lewis, 2017)

I also thought of the recent data visualisation project and how that is still very much an industry on the rise and some jobs purely exist to create and work through masses of data. Though I did then remember that while the internet was full of bad examples of data visualisation and my favourite example is from the 1800’s.

I also thought about the increased popularity in visual cv’s, the rise of the infographic to turn for example boring polling data into animations highlighting the key figures to make the data more accessible to a wider audience, I also started to think about the emoji itself being a visual diagram or representation of how you feel about something, a response to a situation becoming standardised to the point of which we are even starting to form a light emoji language of sorts.

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Figure 6 – The festival is over until next year, thanks for having me (Lewis, 2017)

Now I fully know that I need to explore this idea in much further depth to come to any kind of decisive answer to Shrigley’s comment. I’m sure there are many example I could look at either way to support or dismiss his words before deciding which side of the line I would fall on, it would make an interesting study none the less, if it turns out to far from a dying form then why are those new forms not drawing as much attention and why, this could all make for an interesting study in itself.

References:

Coloribus.com. (2009). Fiat 500: “NOT EXACT” Print Ad by Krow Communications. [online] Available at: https://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/prints/fiat-500-not-exact-15142805/ [Accessed 5 May 2017].

Dandad.org. (2017). Global Association for Creative Advertising & Design Awards | D&AD. [online] Available at: https://www.dandad.org/ [Accessed 5 May 2017].

Southbankcentre.co.uk. (2012). David Shrigley: Brain Activity | Southbank Centre. [online] Available at: https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/venues/hayward-gallery/past-exhibitions/david-shrigley-brain-activity [Accessed 5 May 2017].

Week 25 – Exploring the subject of Transmedia Storytelling.

For this blog post I am going to explore the topic that best captured my interest out of six presentations I was given that week, that was the presentation on the subject matter of Transmedia Storytelling.

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Figure 1 – Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins (Cssmentor.com, 2017)

So what is transmedia storytelling? well it’s a subject created by Henry Jenkins in his book ‘Convergence Culture’, it can be defined as to tell a single story over multiple platforms using a variety of digital media to deliver unique pieces of content with different points of entry accessible when combined or on their own.

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Figure 2 – The old world and the new world (Storify, 2013)

The first key thing to note is that it’s easy to create components to a story that vaguely go together or allign side by side, this is not transmedia storytelling though, for it to be truly transmedia the elements have to combine to tell a bigger story, while still working in their own right, when combined they will tell a story that is more satisfying than it’s individual parts as shown in the diagram above.

I think this subject still has a lot of untapped potential, it’s still evolving with a lot more to come, it covers areas of interest and skill right at the forefront of the industry mixing those skills with new technology and when successfully done it’s extremely effective at reaching it’s audience. It’s also the dream topic if you are a fan of telling a good narrative with layers and depth.

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Figure 3 – The online trailer for Pokemon Go (Vine Report, 2016)

Pokemon Go was the latest evolution of a long standing story that has been evolving for years with Pokemon and their interactions with each other and us. This was the biggest game of 2016, it was the second coming of Pokemon probably being at it’s most popular since the original game was released on the Game Boy in the late nineties. Over 30 million people worldwide playing the game regularly in it’s peak over last summer.

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Figure 4 – Gorillaz – The animated video for ‘Do ya thang’ for converse shoes ft Andre 3000 (CGMeetup : Community for CG & Digital Artists, 2014)

Cartoon band the Gorillaz, the product of Blur front man Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewitt, have been celebrating twenty of years of working on this project this year, the band that exist in their own realm of comics, adverts, games and videos, yet can cross over to do live interviews, performances, release music and headline festivals. Their new album ‘Humanz’ is the latest chapter in the story being released to critical aclaim, this evolution of the band has already seen the first 360 degree video created by the band, the first live interview chat on facebook with the cartoon band members and further treats in store for the audience as the band embark on a world tour over the next year celebrate the new music and greatest hits.

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Figure 5 – What media can help to tell a transmedia story (Blog.teachnet.ie, 2015)

I think a big part of the appeal of this kind of storytelling is that, you can be very playful and experimental as long as you are well organised, as you can see in this diagram there are plenty of outlets to tell components of your story/campaign ranging from video, gaming and film, to music, web and photography. There is so much potential in this area, so many combinations yet to be explored or fully achieved, there is a lot more room for progression in this area and in time some of the great storytellers of the modern generation are likely to rise and gain notoriety by working in this transmedia environment being flexible with their story to tell it over the piece of media that best suits the content and audience at that time, embracing skill with new technology as it comes and continues to reshape and redefine what is possible within this area.

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Figure 6 – The virtual landscape of Bear71 (Bear71.nfb.ca, 2017)

While I knew very well about well documented examples such as Star Wars or Lost for transmedia storytelling, the stories that caught my interest fell into areas I had never explored before, an example of that was Bear71, this fascinating interactive website where you follow the story of a bear that has tracking information on it, you can follow a map, hear stories, even poetry and see social media posts in the eye of the bear, the story follows this idea of man intruding on it’s habitat to the point that we track it to keep us safe and we track the bear to keep the bear safe, the end result is wonderful and really interesting.

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Figure 7 – Welcome to Pine Point opening animation (Pinepoint.nfb.ca, 2017)

Another example that really captured my attention was ‘Welcome to Pine Point’ a project about a man returning to a place where he grew up, an American mining town that literally doesn’t exist anymore today. To see it in this manner brought up lots of emotion and old memories.

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Figure 8 – The story of the high school beauty in Pine Point (Pinepoint.nfb.ca, 2017)

Which then began this creative collage project retelling his story of his former home in the opinion of his own and by tracking down other former members of the community to see what happened to them and how life has treated them since moving on from this former town that held them all together.

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Figure 9 – Presenting the lost footage of life within the community of Pine Point (Pinepoint.nfb.ca, 2017)

I believe there is a wonderful narrative here, a great project to collect and retell old stories and give a real ghost town, it’s digital stamp so it can be read about by those who cared about it and future generations, this was really inspiring to me.

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Figure 10 –  A table of various childrens characters and where they fit in terms of the development of key skills for children who follow the content and story of those characters (Articlesdirectoryme.info, 2017)

I also explored areas such as transmedia storytelling for children, parents and education, mixing up how a child learns so it’s not all in front of a screen or tablet and can encourage more activity designed for healthy living and exercise as much as to learn and get attached to a character/brand that has been developed and aimed very much at them.

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Figure 11 – One Tree Hill – Comic style artwork, initially featured as the hobby of the character Peyton on the show, fan art has developed and evolved from this in the same style as featured on the show (Ward, 2006)

The final area that I was exploring that was relatively unexplored from my own point of view was begining to tap into the powerful world of fandom, where if your story has been a success it will become a cult classic or even immortal, where the demand for new stories within that franchise will keep on spawning as well as developing other avenues, spinoffs, origin stories and what if scenarios with the same loved characters, perhaps given new twists even devised by new authors, that level of passion and technology available to the internet generation in this modern era makes it easier than ever to get involved in creating content and sharing it around a passionate community to generate buzz and feedback.

To make something viral that captures the actual interest of the those involved with the core/original product would be a dream come true for these passionate fans. This is a really interesting world to explore and see where that may take you, the levels of fandom and passion for good stories being told can be on a more intense and personal connection than most of us ever hope to achieve with one another.

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Figure 12 – A Transmedia Project Development diagram as highlighted by a transmedia storytelling success story (Pratten, 2010)

Now this is the concluding point to my research to date, I discovered this presentation slide from another transmedia storytelling project where they like to share with their fans the process of creating their production and how they make it fit within those rules as well as to keep it exciting, what I discovered was these are the six key areas to look into when creating a story, when you explore it further each of those six options raises nearly an equal number of questions each, leaving you with roughly thirty different questions to try and answer and address when creating your own story.

At this point I’m exploring those questions and exploring the complexities behind creating that next great story and trying to find further examples of those out on the road to that success. This begins my exploration into Transmedia storytelling i’m intrigued to see where it might take me over the coming months as my project and research evolves.

References:

Articlesdirectoryme.info. (2017). Pbs Kids Shows 90s. [online] Available at: http://articlesdirectoryme.info/listpnum-pbs-kids-shows-90s.html [Accessed 3 May 2017].

Bear71.nfb.ca. (2017). NFB/Interactive – Bear 71. [online] Available at: http://bear71.nfb.ca/#/bear71 [Accessed 3 May 2017].

Blog.teachnet.ie. (2015). Microsoft Educator Network Ireland – TeachNet Blog › Transmedia Storytelling. [online] Available at: http://blog.teachnet.ie/transmedia-storytelling/ [Accessed 3 May 2017].

CGMeetup : Community for CG & Digital Artists. (2014). Making of Do Ya Thing Gorillaz. [online] Available at: http://www.cgmeetup.net/home/making-of-do-ya-thing-gorillaz/ [Accessed 3 May 2017].

Cssmentor.com. (2017). Journalism & Mass Communication Books. [online] Available at: https://cssmentor.com/journalism%20books.html [Accessed 3 May 2017].

Pinepoint.nfb.ca. (2017). NFB – Welcome to Pine Point. [online] Available at: http://pinepoint.nfb.ca/#/pinepoint [Accessed 3 May 2017].

Pratten (2010). Lowlifes transmedia storytelling. [online] Slideshare.net. Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/ZenFilms/lowlifes-transmedia-storytelling [Accessed 3 May 2017].

Storify. (2013). TMS | TransMediaStorytelling. [online] Available at: https://storify.com/alltagslabor/transmedia-storytelling [Accessed 3 May 2017].

Vine Report. (2016). ‘Pokmon GO’ tips and tricks: Venusaur, Blastoise, Charizard and Dragonite are hardest to catch, zero capture rate for Pokmon Mew, Mewtwo, Zapdos, Articuno and Moltres – Vine Report. [online] Available at: https://www.vinereport.com/article/pokemon-go-tips-and-tricks-which-pokemon-is-the-easiest-hardest-to-catch/13380.htm [Accessed 3 May 2017].

Ward, H. (2006). dessins de helen ward. [online] Skyrock. Available at: http://helen-ward-pict.skyrock.com [Accessed 3 May 2017].

 

Week 24 – Data Visualisation Exhibition – Formative Peer Assessment.

Over the course of the last three weeks our class have been building up to a data visualisation exhibition on campus in Winchester. In our initial class we selected a location in Winchester that would be the focal point for our data collection and we had selected Winchester high street. We then decided what we were going to research and record and how that might turn into a visualisation at the end of the process. We then collected our data over the course of a twelve hour period all on the same day early in the process.

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Figure 1 – Final exhibition display – Group 3

From there we developed our data, looking to create our visualisations, we selected our space of wall to exhibit on and with a looming print design we had to send off our display boards almost right away with a fear that they might not return in time, the following days were frantic as it all came together, problems would arise and be dealt with and eventually once our printed boards had arrived and our video was able to play on the monitor unified by our large title print, our exhibition was all but done barring the odd last minute amendments and adjustments.

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Figure 2 – My own personal contribution to the exhibition in Group 3.

My own addition was a board that quite low in my initial ideas but I went along with it because it felt like our group work was quite individual and needed to be more unified. The content involved an accurate map of Winchester high street and location information that was relevant to all the other parts of our group work. I added some other information of interest such as altitude and the background was formed of my own photography. I had sacrified many of my own ideas to try and salvage the group project with mixed success, to hear more about that you can find my reflective diary on my website.

So now the exhibition deadline was reached, a few hours before the public were welcome to come visit the exhibition space and see what we had created. It was at this point with us all together that we had our formative peer assessment. It was formed of two parts, a group assessment of the other groups work in our class and an individual mark for each of the members of our own team. For this blog post I will briefly run through what each of the other teams created and my own personal assessment of those projects based on the ASK method and a fourth catergory called Design, marking everything out of 5 to give a total at the end out of 20. My own marks on my blog post are my own personal opinion and do not reflect what as a group we chose on the day. I shall start with my favourite exhibit first.

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Figure 3 – Best Data Visualisation – Group 1

A – Accurate (no values but strands of string, presumed, can see patterns clearly) 3
S – Story (The strongest presentation, simple, clear, colourful, direct) 5
K – Knowledge (did reinforce knowledge, some minor figures) 3
D – Design (It was a one piece project, the projector was only to emphasise this data visualisation, the video presented was showing the group making this visualisation, the size and scale of this work made a huge impact and the clear simple font, information and use of screws and coloured wool/string, it made a great first impression) 4

Total 15/20

In my personal opinion the visualisation above created by Group 1 was the most impactful and successful data visualisation piece created overall in our class. The size was ambitious, the data was relatively simple and easy to follow, they had gathered a respectable amount of data to fill the piece, it stood out, it looked good and it made a good use of their location. I will admit on closer inspection there are further questions raised and some interesting design choice but none the less, I don’t think anyone else created anything better than this piece.

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Figure 4 – Lowest Data Visualisation – Group 4

A – Accurate (presumed, lot of information, some elements unclear) 3
S – Story (The basic story is strong, presentation is quite dull though) 3
K – Knowledge (Lots of information, didn’t feel like I learn’t anything new) 2
D – Design (The overall style is pretty nice but there is too much to look at, there is too much red going on in front of the eyes, would have been nicer to present less, add a secondary colour and mix up the balance of what was presented in this one) 2.5

Total 10.5/20

Now I think this was a tough decision and it was a close call between Group 4 and Group 6. I decided on a balance of what I liked to see in the visualisations, this came out as the lowest. I admire the ambition, there is a lot of data presented, it’s almost overwhelming, but I think there were two areas where this fell short.

The main piece of data is presented in such a way that is actually difficult to read and understand the data on display. The work below it looks good and shows good variety, beyond that it starts to become a bit too much with further charts and data beyond that. I do believe they did have a good idea with the audience interaction, though the execution was quite simplistic, yes/no answers, removing the opportunity for more interesting insights.

The colour scheme doesn’t work for me, from afar it looks very clean and stylish but on closer inspection, it actually was all too similar, made certain elements hard to read and the overall work a bit more dull by the end of viewing it all. There was a sign that was pretty hard to read but reading it then revealed spelling errors which also should have been checked before presenting the work.

How to improve the Lowest Visualisation – Group 4

The first improvement would be to fine tune the volume of data on show, I would look to condense what is being presented into something more interesting and less widespread. That being said the main wheel of data needs to be repackaged and presented differently to be more effective, it looks nice but it’s very difficult to make comparisons and actually read the information available.

It might be quite nice to put the tablet video onto a monitor and a plinth and mix up the visual nature of the exhibition stand, the magazine might potentially be a real nice document so some more emphasis should be placed on that. I would also highlight the audience participation element to their display, there is a chance to leave comments and make judgements and answer questions, all of this is good and this should be presented with more importance.

Finally I’d rethink the visual presentation of the work, it’s the colour scheme that needs some work, perhaps what it needs is simply a secondary colour to be introduced to go along with the red to make the visual nature of the work more interesting.

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Figure 5 – Saved by it’s beautiful digital visuals – Group 6

A – Accurate (presumed, mostly observational data) 3
S – Story (Really dull presentation, the video is excellent though) 4
K – Knowledge (I didn’t really learn anything factual from this Library data) 1
D – Design – The visual presentation was terribly dull on the walls and repetative, the quality of the video on the computer saved this project) 3

Total 11/20

This group had gone down a similar route to Group 4 in that the data was pretty repetative, there was too much presented and the visual presentation was probably the most dull, there were some acetate sheets that actually looked nice but didn’t quite work out as intended by the group so I believe which was a shame.

There was a huge positive though that saved the exhibition for this group as a whole, this video was presented wonderfully, the use of colour and effects made it interesting, eye catching and easy to follow. It maintained your focus and I believe this was the best digital video presented by any of the groups. The quality of the finish had the best execution, it would have been the lowest ranked project if it didn’t have the video.

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Figure 6 – Some nice ideas and experimentation – Group 2

A – Accurate (thorough, varied and interesting, some actual figures presented) 4
S – Story (A real shame they didn’t compare two locations within Winchester) 3
K – Knowledge (Some interesting comparison work and experiments) 2
D – Design (Started strong but grew increasingly rushed and tatty as the deadline closed in, little bit untidy on the final presentation in places taking away from the care and attention made over the graphs in particular early in the exhibition setup) 3

Total 12/20

When I first saw this project I really liked it, they gave it a good go, it’s lacking a bit of finesse but I liked the raw variety and ideas on show, even though it wasn’t really neccessary I do like the charts being produced very physically and it added something to the data being presented which wasn’t as interesting as that design choice.

I actually liked the photography and the video work in combination with the sound,
I thought it was a nice idea, though very predictable, the only real shame is that they didn’t use two locations within Winchester, it sadly broke the story up and the connection between Southampton and Winchester is not as strong as it would have been keeping both sides of the story within Winchester itself.

The table to draw and interact was clearly a last minute addition to boost the overall exhibition and it doesn’t harm the project. I think it was a good effort and the result was a successful project, they had some good ideas and weren’t afraid to explore how to visualise them and I fully respect their work in that respect.

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Figure 7 – A tale of two projects – Group 5.

A – Accurate (thorough, well presented, values presented) 4
S – Story (Two strong projects not at all related) 2
K – Knowledge (Informative, campaigns, calls to action, impressive) 4
D – Design (Each element was nicely designed, with good care and detail, the various elements don’t really compliment each other though which lets down the overall result) 4

Total 14/20

The work in Group 5 was really strong but clearly the group had split in half and never took the time to bring the two strong halves of the project back together, by the time they lined up side by side there were such basic differences between the two that there was nothing to connect them other than the original theme of a high street cafe.

So it’s best to compare each half of the project individually, the left side had some nicely presented data, nice textured print outs though unclear how they are all linked or differentiated from each other, the video was probably the second best behind the visualisation in Group 6. I liked the style, it was good but not the strongest work presented in that room.

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Figure 8 – Activism and a call to action – the other side of Group 5.

Now this side of the presentation had a bit of everything from video to print outs, a campaign, a call to action, stickers and signage. It grabbed your attention and it was interesting, I demonstrated the call to action at one point though it didn’t really make much sense to me at the time in the way it was set up so perhaps some clarity was missing in it’s instruction, the video and print outs were nicely edited and visualised, the sticker in particular behind this piece had some lovely illustrations on it designed within the team.

It was ambitious and mostly a success. The only problem was the components that made up the full exhibitions didn’t compliment each other or work together well at all. Everything was strong, well thought out and well made, good presentation, it just didn’t all fit together because it was so different from one part to the next. If they had managed to bring all their ideas together, it probably would have been the strongest group by a healthy margin.

On the day itself and in the following studio session we found out how each of the groups marked each other, on top of that we found out what the tutors thought of our projects, what was interesting was the marking differed quite a lot between students and tutors, the student marking reflected the success of the previous video project in a similar pecking order.

The tutor marking shuffled the groups around placing a new group in the top spot and two projects that ranked highly to the students were considered mid table and the worst group in their marking.

The comparisons were interesting, sure most people were happy with one of their sets of feedback rather than both. It was interesting to see the variety of ideas that the class had come up with over the span of three weeks, with many of us balancing the work for this exhibition with a deadline in our optional module running directly parallel with it.

References:

All photographs taken by myself (Lewis, 2017)

 

Week 23 – The DIEP Framework to reflect on our Data Visualisation project so far.

The DIEP strategy is made up of four areas to make up critical reflective writing, describe, interpret, evaluate and plan.  I am going to use this strategy and talk about it in the context of our current data visualisation project in progress at this time.

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Figure 1 – Building my map of Winchester high street (Lewis, 2017)

D – Describe

This project is to collect, organise and create an exhibitory data visualisation about the City of Winchester for a public exhibition. We were assigned to work in the same groups as the previous project under the same tutor so that placed seven of us to work together on this project.

There were a number of different topics available, to stop everyone working in the exact same location we had to choose one and base our data collection around the location, we selected Winchester high street and that would be our base for this assignment.

So now the challenge was to find potential information we would want to find out in the high street, after an initial tutorial we broke up into four different groups to study different areas, fresh food, waste, people and a video project on the day of our data collection. Over the course of twelve hours we collected our data which we would then turn into our exhibition display only a matter of weeks later.

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Figure 2 – Our class and the exhibition ready to go on display to the public (Lewis, 2017)

From there we would go on to visualise our data, get our boards ready to be sent to print in time for the print deadline, prepare an exhibition space in the room we were assigned, in my own role as course representative I would head out and promote the event around the university campus, shortly after we would have to meet a deadline to allow us the chance to review and evaluate the work we produced as a class before the work goes on display to the public for a week bringing the project to a close.

I – Interpret

This project had the potential to be successful, we did well on a previous project together, I took quite a leading role in that project and I believe the others wanted more involvement in this next project or at least more evidence of their participation. We also had a member who was new to the group but also quite defensive and even hostile at times, in the previous project she had managed to fall out with a number of people in the group so working together again was always going to be strained. Another factor that was becoming increasingly apparant, our group seemed to be 5, 1 and 1. We had two individuals and five who appear to get on very well on the course and outside the studio, I do believe that also had an impact on how this project went.

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Figure 3 –  9am on Winchester high street on data collection day (Lewis, 2017)

We went out into the field, three working on a video project in a rotation system that seemed to work if slightly overstaffed. We had two working a fresh food survey, one working on a litter idea, photographing and collecting litter and myself working on a survey to ask people who were in the high street at the time of speaking to them.

I suffered from something unforeseen that day, I was poorly, so poorly that I failed to drive home and actually stayed in a hotel until I was well enough to drive home.

What was really telling was just how quiet the group was after the research day, there was barely any conversation for days until it was absolutely necessary. I had a difficult time in the following tutorial, already working on a second choice idea, that data was considered quite basic and dull and was possibly the weakest of the group, so I then started to move on to a third and fourth choice option just to have some work to show for myself in this exhibition.

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Figure 4 – Trying to bring all our projects together and unify them (Lewis, 2017)

Our group had a problem at this point, we had strayed out into quite individual ideas and really at some point we needed to bring everyone back together and start to fine tune the ideas or even ditch some weaker ideas to produce a better outcome to the exhibition we were about to present, this never happened and in particular what made things worse, the one student who was practically isolated out to be a loner had worked hard on the research day to uncover the best data, insights and collection from that day, she had the strongest work, but no one wanted to work with her to help develop her successful research.

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Figure 5 – Working on my display board on Adobe Illustrator (Lewis, 2017)

Another interesting observation was that in the marking of the projects the students seemed to mark the work to almost the same hierarchy as the previous video project, it was almost like the strong projects in the video project were assumed to be strong projects this time around and the marking followed suit, the tutors marking presented a different pecking order, still close but some groups fared better than others and some were ranked pretty lowly in comparison.

E – Evaluate

So at the conclusion on this project I’m now sat rather frustrated and disappointed by how this groupwork unfolded.

As the ideas were being developed a number of insights occured, everyone was coming up with individual ideas for this exhibition, ironically it seemed to naturally fall into place that we had 4 groups, 2, 2, 2 and 1. What was interesting was one member of our team instantly without discussion dropped her research and rather than work with the individual she wanted to join her friends, I was very disappointed in that person. I do believe they took a safe option or even a lazy option. I don’t believe we needed three people to work on the video for this exhibition.

My lead idea to do a group based project based around cafe franchises and independent cafes in the high street was largely ignored, that was frustrating for me, but I also feel like the others were protecting themselves by wanting to have more of a leading role or independent role in this exhibition, interesting enough a different group had great success basing a project around 2/3 of the three venues I highlighted for my original idea for this project.

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Figure 6 – The survey I used on the high street collecting responses (Lewis, 2017)

Our group could be considered to be showing good teamwork and equally poor teamwork, both the video and fresh research went smoothly, The litter research went well only due to the determinination and focus of the individual working away on it, due to my illness, being outside all day was a struggle, I wasn’t doing well talking to people but when I wasn’t alone and with members of the team it seemed to help and surveys got answered, I reached around 35-40 before I was too ill to continue, sadly as I confirmed that to my team, they didn’t attempt to help me with my research they just left it regardless of the fact it was incomplete. 42 replies, I was seeking 100 for a useful set of data, very frustrating, sadly I knew when I left that day I couldn’t trust the rest of my team to come through and help me finish my research if only for the good of the team.

One girl in our team was also very isolated, others were poking fun at her behaviour and traits, it wasn’t all one way traffic, she would get very defense, bad mouth the team, argue with tutors and students alike, she is very free sprited but does seem to struggle in a team, communication wasn’t good between the team and this person. I tried really hard to reach out to this person and progress was possible but it was slow and on such a tight project, it was a little too late to salvage the result of the data visualisation work.

So instead of developing the best ideas we all carried on down our own lines of work, the video I again repeat which was overstaffed was finished extremely early, I do believe they could have incorporated some visuals from the litter research to better link the projects but the idea was basically ignored and kept out of the video. The fresh research turned into some nice visuals and presentation, my issue with it was that it was just too opinion based, people could answer how they wanted and not truthfully which makes me question the value of the research at all. My own data was practically dropped at this point and I created a map out of secondary data, even that was underdeveloped as I worked hard at the sacrifice of my own work to try and help bring the other projects together.

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Figure 7 – A screenshot of my process to use fonts to try and unify the projects, sadly the litter project was printed in something entirely unique instead (Lewis, 2017)

I created a template, the fonts we should use and recommended sizes to help unify the work as it turned out the litter data completely ignored this idea and made our work appear more detached from each other at the conclusion. Other problems we had with the limited time was there was a strong will to make better use of the litter data, I tried to help to the extent that I simply stopped my fourth and fifth choice ideas to make a sculpture and make a piece of text to unify our work all together to be presented on the lower half of my board, sadly with only one night to work on it, it was too late and it simply had to be left as a concept or what if when it came to the assessment of the exhibition.

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Figure 8 – The initial print out of these zines were expensive to produce and not suitable to be used in the exhibition, not the best thought out idea (Lewis, 2017)

Even in the finale of this project our teamwork was laughable, we all spent money to protect our involvement in this project, to produce visuals that highlighted our involvement in the project, clearly the focus was on proving involvement to get a grade over producing a strong exhibition. At the conclusion rather than everything get costed evenly, some didn’t believe they should contribute beyond what they put in, leaving the individuals in the group to have spent far more than those who teamed up with their friends taking the easy way out of a challenging project. We deserved to be ranked as the lowest of the six groups, it was in my opinion the least enjoyable exhibition I have been a part of.

It was a valuable experience even though it was a frustrating one, my key judgements are the following:

  • I dearly wish we had been allowed to mix up the groups again from between the video project and the visualisation project, we had people feeling isolated for over six weeks, other people got to work with their friends for six weeks and certain groups were clearly stronger/more confident than others, mixing it up would have been fairer, we also had three people out of seven handing in an essay the same week as the exhibition so our work suffered because we couldn’t fully focus on it.
  • I genuinely believe some people in our group took the easy way out by working with friends and staying in their comfort zone rather than truly challenge themselves with this project, the end work suffered as a result.
  • Our exhibition would have been more successful if we had communicated better and had agreed to fully explore one idea on the data collection day instead of four individual idea (the downside is I highly doubt the litter project would have been chosen even though as it turned out the work could have been great)
  • Sadly even though an individual collected the best data they really struggled to be open minded about how to present it and a great visual display was lost due to being too narrow minded about how to present the data, sadly the data presented was dull, basic and very expensive for the return which was poorly thought out.
  • This was the worst exhibition I have been a part of, I have done many exhibitions on my own and even some collaboration pieces but this not a great example of teamwork or groupwork and this was after six weeks of working together, I have done exhibitions with people I known for less time and still achieved far more. The element of fun was really missing from this project, it was pretty ugly at times.

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Figure 9 – My display board up on the wall as part of the final exhibition (Lewis, 2017)

There was potentially a lot of value to be gained from this project, to work as a team with people of similar knowledge and skills much like the normality in a workplace. To problem solve and work together in a very short amount of time which is also quite realistic to the realities of working in design. I think a lot of the potential good from this project was lost by people being very concerned about how their work would be assessed and what grade would come from that, that moved the group from people wanting to work as a team but catalogue their involvement, to being an individual first and then working as a team secondary.

P – Plan

In terms of my course it’s probably made my life more stressful and complicated, we already had one group project under tight deadlines, so to do another right away with the same team is the last thing I wanted in all honesty, it’s very challenging to try and produce your best group work while ensuring you capture your own involvement in the aim of securing a good grade, securing a good grade is the part that is not at all relevant to the real world beyond this course so that’s what colours this experience as more frustrating that helpful. I usually enjoy the chance to exhibit work.

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Figure 10 – Our complete exhibiton piece captured here including the video on the imac (Lewis, 2017)

In terms of my future career I’m still undecided of which way I want to go but I’m not convinced I want to return the world of design agencies where I already have 18 months experience, I do enjoy exhibiting and I do generally enjoy working with people but in a more relaxed environment like in my former museum role. I’m still exploring but this project offered both positive and negative ideas about how I’d like my future career to progress.

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Figure 11 – A sketch of how I might fully utilise my board prior to the deadline, the idea was not used in the end (Lewis, 2017)

In terms of life generally, it made me a bit sad that I get along with over 40 people in my class but I have to work closely with for six weeks the only person to argue with me who I generally can’t along with, that’s very true to work but now how I enjoy living my life and it ruined my enjoyment of the creative process on this occasion.

I also would have enjoyed the exhibition far more if it had been an individual project or I had been able to choose only one or two others to work with at most, the groups felt too big and the work might have been more interesting with less people, more widespread ideas and more interesting outcomes, that would have been more fascinating.

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Figure 12: An unused digital illustration that would have sat raised on the lower half of my presentation board, unifying the group work and filling the negative space on my own presentation board (Lewis, 2017)

Luckily these insights won’t feature in the rest of my course, but in terms of the future, I do think I have to protect my own interests at the priority, my work suffered to try and bring the team together and at least If I had been selfish I could have been at least proud of what I accomplished but in this example that didn’t even happen. You can’t always work with your friends and it won’t always be easy. I think on this occasion I was more annoyed by the friends sticking together and playing it safe rather than working with the difficult individuals in the group. Difficult people is normal to encounter but close friendship groups in the workplace is far more discruptive to a good end result.

References:

All photographs and work by Robert Lewis (Myself)
(Also featured the rest of the work of my group known as Group 3)

RMIT University. (2010). Reflective Writing in Design. [online] Available at: https://www.dlsweb.rmit.edu.au/slc/studioKnowledgeObject/assets/studio_knowledge_object.pdf [Accessed 5 May 2017].

Study and Learning Centre. (2010). Reflective Writing: DIEP. [online] Available at: https://www.dlsweb.rmit.edu.au/lsu/content/2_assessmenttasks/assess_pdf/Reflective%20journal.pdf [Accessed 5 May 2017].

Week 22 – Lev Manovich’s “5 Minute Guide: Graphic Design Principles for Information Visualisation” peppered with Aaeron Siegel’s “Making Visible the Invisible” (2012)

Lev Manovich’s principles are formed around 7 algorithms which I shall list and explain in further detail.

1 – Only use a few options for each visual attribute – keep it simple and clear and don’t go too big as it will dillute the overall impact of the data. (Manovich, 2012)

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Figure 1 – Mark Lombardi – Global Theme Narrative Structure (Lombardi, 1999)

Mark Lombardi through his lifestyle and attention for detail and collecting data, was able to produce data of his own that perhaps even a computer would struggle to reproduce, he was a fan of political scandals and conspiracy, he would network and keep records of his conversations on note cards, then later took these real connections discovered and organised in his own collated index to create these charts connecting and networking people. These beautiful landscapes would have a flow and tell their own stories, he would actually create them simply with pencil and paper, simple but impactful.

2 – Connect attributes with semantics – what do they represent? indicate differences and don’t introduce too much to simple make it look better. (Manovich, 2012)

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Figure 2 – Harry Beck – London Tube Map (Beck, 1933)

Harry Beck created the original London Tube Map in 1933, what’s innovative about this design is that it ignores factual georgraphic information by simplifying the London layout into the lines by colour and the connecting stations by relative placement from each other, the result is the tube map, that still exists in an updated form and inspired all manner of maps across the world. It was simple, not overloaded with information and easy to process and understand.

3 – Use colour palettes/generators – choose one and stick to it. (Manovich, 2012)

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Figure 3 – Nicholas Feltron – Annual Report 2012 (Feltron, 2012)

Nicholas Feltron rose to notoriety online by releasing his annual report, not related to business, it was a personal project to turn real data about his own life, to then report and publish annually online through his website, covering all manner of mundane and acquired data in his real life actions and interactions, my example from 2012 shows a very simple, clean and styled colour palette which captures your attention but does not distract from the data being presented.

4 – Only use one typeface – the only variable will be the font size. (Manovich, 2012)

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Figure 4 – Bright Point Inc – Federal Budget (Brightpoint. 2013)

Bright Point Inc are a company that create data and publish it to order for clients, the project above is part of a larger project working with the budget data, but it’s an example of clear and direct data and uses the single font algorithm.

5 – Grid – Use a grid for multiple streams of data rather than single or when adding text to a visualisation. (Manovich, 2012)

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Figure 5 – William Playfair – Exports and Imports to and from Denmark & Norway (Playfair, 1786)

To show an example of the use of a grid I’m going back to the very starting point for data visualisation, this organised and clear work by Playfair dates back to 1786 and his body of work covers early examples of the use of line graph, bar chart, waveform and pie chart in his data presentation.

6 – Take away anything non essential – simplify by taking away until there is nothing left to take out. (Manovich, 2012)

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Figure 6 – Eric Fischer – Race and Ethnicity 2010, US Census mapped (Fischer, 2010)

Eric Fischer explains everything you need to know in just the title, by mapping ethnicity by colour over the real geographic map of New York City, by looking at the data you can work out the spread of the community very clearly, it’s a colourful and strong piece of visual data.

7 – Find a visualisation template – apply it to your own work. (Manovich, 2012)

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Figure 7 – Alan Foale and Mark Ovendon – World Metro Map (Foale and Ovendon, 2005)

Rather than to apply this idea to something I created which would be fictional just for this blog, I decided to look at an example of the previously seen Harry Beck London Underground map used as a template for a different piece of visual data, my example shown above shows the same style applied for a world metro map adapted by Foale and Ovendon, the simple layout and use of colour is iconic and communicates well even in this adapted piece of visual data.

References:

Beck, H. (1933). Harry Beck’s Tube map. [online] Transport for London. Available at: https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/culture-and-heritage/art-and-design/harry-becks-tube-map [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Brightpoint. (2013). BrightPoint Consulting – HTML5 Data Visualization. [online] Available at: http://www.brightpointinc.com [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Feltron, N. (2012). The 2012 Feltron Annual Report has been Released – information aesthetics. [online] Infosthetics.com. Available at: http://infosthetics.com/archives/2013/03/the_2012_feltron_annual_report_is_released.html [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Fischer, E. (2010). Race and ethnicity 2010, US census mappedmaptd. [online] Maptd.com. Available at: http://maptd.com/race-and-ethnicity-according-to-the-2010-us-census/ [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Foale, A. and Ovendon, M. (2005). 17 London Underground Maps You Never Knew You Needed. [online] BuzzFeed. Available at: https://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/london-underground-maps-you-never-knew-you-needed?utm_term=.kbN41AabL#.lqrjyeOJ9 [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Lombardi, M. (1999). Mark Lombardi. [online] The Future Mapping Company. Available at: https://futuremaps.com/blog/mark-lombardi [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Manovich, L. (2012). 5 Minute Guide: Graphic Design Principles for Information Visualization. [online] Google Docs. Available at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CVbRgxAby5AdS6ERCmAde69v7_gXSWoK-YcJZzs-KKY/edit?pli=1 [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Playfair, W. (1786). Janne Pyykkö’s BI Blog. [online] Jpbi.blogspot.co.uk. Available at: http://jpbi.blogspot.co.uk/2007_08_01_archive.html [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Siegel, A. (2012). AARON SIEGEL – LECTURE. [online] Vimeo. Available at: https://vimeo.com/52832102 [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Week 21 – A good and bad example of Data Visualisation and what may have inspired their creations.

I signed up to Lynda.com today and watched a number of tutorials on the subject matter of data visualisation, it covered a lot of the basics initially but opened my mind to what makes a good visualisation compared to not. This blog examines an example of a good visualisation and a bad visualisation in my own opinion.

The first thing to note though is that a good visualisation tends to have three main attributes that it successfully tackles, those are as follows:

A – Accurate – Data is visualised accurately as a whole.
S – Story – It tells a compelling story.
K – Knowledge – It’s interesting and you learn something from viewing the data.

So there are plenty of examples of data visualisation on the internet, some basic, some more complex, some examples are more successful than others. When it comes to examples of good visualisation, no matter how hard looked I couldn’t find an example better than the one I’m going to feature below.

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Figure 1 – Charles Minard – Napoleon’s 1812 Russian campaign (Tufte and Finley, 2002)

Charles Minard’s 1869 visualisation of Napoleon’s 1812 Russian campaign remains even after 140 years to be one of the most compelling and interesting data visualisation examples that exists in the public domain today.

Primarily the data visualisation shows the number of his army at different stages of campaign over the stage of time which is shown by geographical data showing the landscape between France and Moscow.

At different points you see figures stating the size of the army at different stages of the campaign, in a beige colour when they are on the offensive and black when retreating back to France.

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Figure 2 – William Playfair “Commercial and Political Atlas” (Playfair, 1786)

Minard’s inspirations may have come from other sources but there are limited examples of visualisation from before his time, he may well have been inspired by the work of William Playfair the originator of visualising data. You can see elements of mapping over time and the use of colour in a block to show a flow of narrative in this work from 1786.

At various points of the retreat you see where the temperature is recorded at different points in the journey. The temperature plummets as the army retreats lowering already heavily depleted numbers particularly when crossing the Berezina river where the temperature was already cold and the river particularly so, an already weakened army suffered great losses at this junction.

What makes his data so compelling is that it details real human loss, a considerable number that was completely avoidable if they had been more successful or had been planned better.

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Figure 3 – William Playfair – time series graph of prices, wages, and ruling monarch over a 250 year period (Playfair, 1821)

Minard would also find inspiration for multiple data streams in this work by playfair showing a line graph much like his temperature graph below the key data in this case the building like bar chart in this work from 1821.

Clearly the campaign was predicted to be a sweeping success noted by two clear junctions early in the campaign where members of the army were asked to break off from the main army and not be involved directly in the campaign.

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Figure 4 – John Snow –  Mapping Cholera (Snow, 1854)

Though less visually comparable the work of John Snow to map the source of a Cholera outbreak was groundbreaking and would have made an impact on the world, it changed the way people think, the use of geography however might have been an inspiration for Minard, in this case the streets of London, rather than the larger geography of France and Europe.

The flow of people shows that at almost every stage there were considerable losses, many people died and the originally widith of the bar compared to the end where they line up side by side, it is assumed that 98% of the army perished during this campaign, figures suggest that figure to be 410,000 people.

Also interesting is that less than a quarter of the initial army made it to Moscow after leaving France, 420,000 at the start, 100,000 by the time they reach Moscow. They don’t appear to show the army suffering any great losses in Moscow itself. In both circumstances where the army branched out, 30,000 of 60,000 didn’t survive their spell in what looks like Poland and an even earlier branch that went north on the visualisation only 6,000 of 22,000 returned. 6,000 of the final 10,000 to survive the battle, meaning only 4,000 of 398,000 members of the army survived after going to battle east in Poland and Moscow. That is a compelling and huge loss of human life.

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Figure 5 – Charles Minard – Map of Port and River Tonnage (Joseph Minard, 1855)

Minard’s other works also do tend to focus on geographic landmarks, such as France in his work about Cattle and Paris and in this example of rivers around Europe in the 1850’s.

This very real fact but a well presented visualisation are what make this example so effective and stand up well to the test of time, even with my noted critisism of no losses in Moscow itself which could be true depending on what happened. I’m genuinely surprised there are not more strong visualisations showing the human cost of war out there on the internet and clearly none presented so informatively.

Now finding a bad example of data visualisation was far easier and a number of online resources very kindly complied lists of bad examples all together, I quickly found the example below which I’m going to feature and explore in further detail.

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Figure 6 – A Visualisation that make no sense (Viz.wtf, 2017)

Well this visualisation is a confusing mess of poor executed data. There are so many basic elements wrong with this data and very little you can actually take away from it.

First let’s explore what it does show, it shows some of the biggest companies in the world compared to each other in a number of different catergories shown across the X axis.

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Figure 7 – Modern London Underground Map (Graham-Smith, 2016)

The use of colour in this example might have been inspired by the much celebrated London Underground Map, orginally created by Harry Beck in 1933. Though there are multiple streams of colour and complex data to present, this map is successful in that it simplifies what would be even more complicated if taken too literally and is relatively easy to understand by almost anyone.

You can make vague comparisons saying one company has a higher percentage of women in the workplace than another company but it all means nothing because there are no actual values. If this information taken from the entire workforce of that company or a sample portion of it, are they actual percentages or just figures they are comparing with each other.

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Figure 8 – The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People (Currey, 2013)

This recent example also takes a colourful approach and perhaps putting all the varied information into one long bar adjusted proportionately to keep it’s shape and hierarchy, perhaps would have provided a better visual result to the data, making the streams more individual and easier to compare across the companies still using colour but far less of them.

Higher and Lower also means nothing because we don’t know what the top end and low end values of this scale are because it could be between 0 – 100% or 95 and 100% or 0-10%, we literally don’t know what the scale is, it’s completely open to interpretation and meanings nothing at all.

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Figure 9 – Semantic Web – (Chibana, 2015)

This example shows the hierarchy of a single stream of data by it’s size, perhaps the data above would have worked better in this manner, by individualising the x axis and only using data that could be quantified by a value, the result would have been clearer and stronger rather than trying to show too much all at once.

I also question what a low value in high % job satisfaction actually means, does that mean that only a percentage of the workforce have high job satisfaction, or does it mean that the whole workforce are only % satisfied with the job, if that satisfaction was say 92% is that a bad figure at all, aside from the fact it could be improved. Either way it would be made a lot clearer with some actual values.

Next the worrying statement ‘0 values indicate there was not enough data to determine a value’ is right there in the corner, what does this even mean, does that mean the sample itself is floored, or impossible to value or to compare rendering this chart useless. Are the samples even consistent? how can you compare something as a percentage of it’s total if you only speak to a small portion of the full sample and assume the rest. This probably alone means you shouldn’t take away anything from viewing this visualisation.

Finally I want to tackle the rainbow of companies features, so 18 companies have made it to this visualisation, shown by a full spectrum of colours to identify them. Now that alone isn’t awful but it’s when you see it in the chart where it just becomes confusing and messy. It’s nearly impossible to not confuse the eyes and struggle to follow the data all the way across, let alone to compare different companies easily, even if you pick two specific companies and follow them all the way across, there is too much information, it all moves around very erratically and it’s extremely difficult to assume anything from it. Then you have sections where data lands on the same point and certain colours just vanish and only certain data remains as the forefront colour.

thecrayolacrayontimeline.jpg

Figure 10 – Crayola – Evolution of Crayon colours (Von Worley, 2010)

Now this example is the perfect use of multiple colours because it is completely factual and in fact this clearly communicates the data with only a timeline for year required highlighting key points where more colours were introduced, this example shows using a spectrum of colours can indeed work when used correctly. This wouldn’t be possible to replicate with the data streams but at least above it make for a very visual and appealing piece of informative data.

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Figure 11 – GE – Health Infoscape (GE, 2013)

This example shows what it’s like to use a spectrum of colours from this different sources, but the detail in the layout and clean presentation makes it a far more successful outcome, there are likewise connections and comparisons to be made but here they are much easier to follow than the confused version in the example, some better choices in using the data and perhaps the original chart could have turned out far more informative and successful in giving knowledge to it’s reader.

In conclusion, there is no element of fine tuning and editing here, why feature so many companies, why compare such ranges of data where it’s impossible to compare them side by side, why not include any values to give the data any grounding or meaning, this is a truly awful example of data visualisation.

So in conclusion, there are plenty conscious decisions we make when handling data that can create a great piece of visualisation or to make something with no useful value at all so we have to be strict on ourselves to be creative and present the information we have as smartly and clearly as possible, finally Lynda.com offers a great array of workshops and information on all the key creative design programmes and I highly recommend giving them a try to learn some new skills and acquire new knowledge and information.

References:

Chibana, N. (2015). 15 Stunning Data Visualizations (And What You Can Learn From Them). [online] Visual Learning Center by Visme. Available at: http://blog.visme.co/examples-data-visualizations/ [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Currey, M. (2013). The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People | Podio. [online] https://podio.com/. Available at: https://podio.com/site/creative-routines [Accessed 2 May 2017].

GE (2013). 20 Inspiring Big Data Visualization Examples. [online] Available at: http://www.keywebmetrics.com/2013/07/big-data-visualizations/ [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Graham-Smith, D. (2016). The History Of The Tube Map. [online] Londonist. Available at: http://londonist.com/2016/05/the-history-of-the-tube-map [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Joseph Minard, C. (1855). Charles Joseph Minard | Cartographia. [online] Cartographia.wordpress.com. Available at: https://cartographia.wordpress.com/category/charles-joseph-minard/ [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Mappinglondon.co.uk. (2014). Mapping Cholera | Mapping London. [online] Available at: http://mappinglondon.co.uk/2014/mapping-cholera/ [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Playfair, W. (1786). William Playfair | Humantific. [online] Humantific.com. Available at: http://www.humantific.com/tag/william-playfair/ [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Playfair, W. (1821). [online] Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/226400313_fig6_Figure-7-William-Playfair%27s-1821-time-series-graph-of-prices-wages-and-ruling-monarch [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Tufte, V. and Finley, D. (2002). Edward Tufte: New ET Writings, Artworks & News. [online] Edwardtufte.com. Available at: https://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/minard [Accessed 1 May 2017].

Viz.wtf. (2017). WTF Visualizations. [online] Available at: http://viz.wtf/ [Accessed 1 May 2017].

Von Worley, S. (2010). Color Me A Dinosaur – The History Of Crayola Crayons, Charted. [online] Datapointed.net. Available at: http://www.datapointed.net/2010/01/crayola-crayon-color-chart/ [Accessed 2 May 2017].