Data Visualisation (in progress)

May 13, 2010

fig 1

to my data visualisation assignment. The data set I ended up using was from the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. To activate the data visualisation, you click a link from a related website eg. Beyond Blue and a new screen will open up showing fig 1. Click ‘Welcome’ and an animation follows:

fig 2

The glasses unfold and turn around…

fig 3

… so it is as if the viewer is looking through the glasses. I chose to use glasses in this data visualisation because both glasses and mental illness change the way you see the world.

fig 4

The focus changes from the animation to the viewer looking through the lenses.

fig 5

Buttons appear, the same set for each lense so that the viewer has total control over the statistics they see.

fig 6

In this example, the viewer wants to see Family Composition vs 12 Month Mental Disorder statistics on the left, and on the right; Education vs 12 Month Mental Disorder. Having these graphs side by side allows for easy comparison of data.

Every time a button is selected it is darker. Click to select and click again to deselect. When a button is clicked an animation is triggered:

This project took a long time to conceptualise and is probably the assignment I struggled most with all semester. To start with I was very confused because I thought we were expected to actually make the data visualisation. With only a few weeks left and no flash lessons in our tutorials, I began to panic before being gently told that only the concept was necessary. I was slightly relieved, but I still felt quite lost because although I’d looked  at lots of data visualisation examples, I didn’t feel like I had a grasp of what Flash or the other programs used were actually capable of building. I didn’t want to create an impossible assignment!

I thought a lot and struggled to come up with an exciting new way of illustrating data. I realised that the first step would be to acquire the data and build the visualisation to fit the particular data set instead of fitting the data to the visualisation. So I asked my dad if he had any statistics I could use. He gave me some educational data from the Solomon Islands which looked promising to start with. I was thinking along the lines of an area graph, such as this one from the NY Times. I really liked the way you could choose which data you viewed and how you could see the data move.

The actual graphs gave me a lot of trouble. I started my hand drawing them then taking a photo and editing on Photoshop, but the whole process took way too long, so I searched the internet for a program or website that would draw the graph for me. I came across onlinecharttool which is a great website that lets you make a lot of stylistic choices. Then you just type in your data and BAM:

(insert pic of graph)

I was initially delighted with the graph but the more I looked at it, the more the perspective seemed all wrong. And bar graphs are quite boring, so I played around with onlinecharttool some more and came across this graph:


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