Data Visualisation

April 23, 2010

It was our last ever Networked Media lecture this week. It’s sad, Michael is the most entertaining lecturer we have. It was all about data visualisation which is basically the visual representation of abstract information that enables the viewer to make more sense of the data. Thus, it is a great democratic tool as knowledge is power and data visualisation aims to make knowledge easier to acquire.  It takes advantage of the fact that humans are great at noticing scale, colour, shape, position, pattern and movement. I found it amazing that I (and a lot of my classmates) had only just been made aware of data visualisation. It’s everywhere! I guess it’s one of those things you only notice when you know about it. It makes me want to know a lot more things so I notice more around me. I’m worried I’m blindly walking though life missing out on amazing things.

There is a tricky diferentiation between an infographic and a data visualisation. I’m still wrapping my head around it. In our tutorial we had to research and present a data visualisation we’d found to the class. In my muddled style, I worked away on an infographic presentation, realising with 5 minutes to spare that it wasn’t in fact a data visualisation. So I came across this amazing but totally useless data visualisation called Visual Poetry. Basically it was a data visualisation of all the poems submitted into the Poetry On The Road literary festival, held in Germany.

And the way they visualised the poems was amazing. Each letter is given a numerical value, thus every word has a numerical value and is placed accordingly on a circle. The diameter of the circle depends on the size of the poem. Sometimes, more than one word will share the same value and when that happens a red circle appears around the point. The more this happens, the bigger the red circle. The grey curves connect the words in the order they appear in the original poem. So you get something like… THIS!

The cool thing about this data visualisation is that it lets you put in your own poetry to make your own image. I put in the lyrics to The Mariner’s Revenge by The Decemberists and this is how it turned out.

And Shakespeare…

I’ve been thinking about what to do for my assignment and I will either make a short story geographic or I will create a data visualisation with educational data from the south pacific. My dad’s work has a lot to do with that area so it would be a great and easy source of data. I haven’t quite worked out exactly what it would show yet…. if I choose that option at all.

Another option which just cropped up tonight (as my dad and uncle dissect the wine, making each other guess the year, grape, and location) is their particular tendencies and how they assess particular wines. Or I could extend it and make it less about them and more about wine.

It all requires thought.

I really want to try Wordle after hearing about it in the lecture. So here goes!…, okay, scrap that. I have a boring vocabulary apparently.

Good Design Will Save The World

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2 Responses to “Data Visualisation”


  1. Wow, that’s so cool! I’m a total poetry buff, but terrible at anything more creative than stick figures, so it’s amazing for me to see poetry turn into a more visual art. Do make sure you post whatever you decide to do, too – I’d love to see it!


  2. […] Data Visualisation Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment » […]

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