Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Blog Post: Escaping Flatland/The Art of Data Visualization

Both the chapter, "Escaping Flatland", and the video, The Art of Data Visualization, discuss the power of displaying and conveying information using different visual techniques. The chapter addressed, how though as humans we live in a three-dimensional world, we are presented with two-dimensional data on paper or a screen. In the reading, I found it particularly interesting when it described a specific type of data visualization referred to as "stereo illustrations"(17). These illustrations "deliver vivid three-dimensional scenes by means of paired images (one for each eye), which are then fused mentally by viewers" (17). This reminded me of a toy (pictured below) I had when I was younger that was a viewfinder that used this type of illustration to give two-dimensional images depth.
In the Youtube video, they discussed how data visualization's beginnings were showing information through cartography and later with science. Galileo's own depiction of the sunspots he saw is an example of this science. In addition, during the video one individual lays out three aspects to keep in mind when creating data visualization. The first of these being you as the creator, second the audience or readers with their own biases and unique backgrounds, and finally the data itself. One image that displayed during the video particularly stood out to me. It was the image below of the distances to the nearest McDonalds in the United States. I think this image, though simple, is incredibly powerful and shocking. Lastly, I liked how in the video one individual discusses what makes these visual displays of data successful. They specified how successful data visualizations convey a story and make complicated information into something more simple and able to be interpreted.  After watching this video and reading the chapter, I became much more aware of different data visualization techniques I have encountered in my own life.

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