Due to the nature and aesthetics of information visualisation, especially data visualisation, we often trust it to be accurate and veracious. The use of collected information, especially numbers, could easily add gravitas to any project.
Because visualised information requires a lot of effort in terms of the curation and the extraction of data, as well as the application of visual systems, the involvement and relevance of a designer becomes very obvious. As such, visualised information is often viewed with more seriousness and held at a higher standard as compared to a simple graph.
Like any tool, the visualisation of information can be easily manipulated. The responsibility falls on the shoulder of the designer to treat any information with integrity and consideration. That being said, it is often harder to lie with data. If an output relies heavily on collected information from a fixed source, the outcome could still easily be verified by a third party. The notion of visualising literature is not uncommon. Outputs from these projects stem from various motivations.
Some are intended to explore the themes or writing style of a book, while others take on a more fine art approach. Here are some case studies which uses visuals to interpret written materials. These case studies have in some ways helped in developing this project and the refinement of its concept.
This project was conceived with the intention of visualising the differences in writing styles when comparing authors to one an other.
John Mullan on The Luminaries – Guardian book club
The main text used was On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. The data collected includes sentence lengths, punctuation, and text structure. Writing Without Words Posters images retrieved from www. While the theme changes every year, his approach has always been the same, which is to use computer programs to generate images out of text, translating its content into key graphics. The initial approach to the project was to start by reading and rereading the book several times to select the information and data to be extracted.
It was initially assumed that once information is pulled out from the source, it could be later decided and curated in order for it to make sense.
Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, reviewed.
However, this approach failed as data is essentially useless unless the intent is clear and a system is applied to it. Information comes after certain editorial steps in order to tell the story with data. Data in themselves are quite useless. It was later realised that the same data source can keep producing various data depending on how you mine it. The possibilities are almost endless. Without a clear intent of what angle to present the information in, it becomes easy to mindlessly extract data without knowing what it is for, causing the entire process to be ineffective.
It was a misconception to think that the intent and design should come after the extraction of data. Once the visual structures have been worked out, it becomes clear exactly what data needs to be extracted.
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This will ensure maximum efficiency, especially when dealing with a huge source. The process starts first with sketching. Books and existing diagrams were used to study how structure, techniques and applications were applied to their specific context. This helped to determine what kind of charts are suitable for what sort of information. These charts were then tested out on sample data to see its effectiveness. There are generally three kinds of information to extract: 1. Nominal Data This kind of data has no quantitative values. This data is often categorised. In simpler terms, we are grouping Apples to Apples and Oranges to Oranges with nominal data.
Questions to ask are what and where, instead of how much or how often. Ordinal Data This data is information that could be arranged in a certain order or rank. With this information, we can tell which comes before another. However the intervals are not quantitative and cannot be measured. We will know that A is bigger than B but not bigger by how much. Quantitative Data This is essentially any data with numerical values that could be measured and manipulated. Quantitative data could be applied to ordinal data. Referring to the image above, the highlighted yellow paragraph bears text relating to the pile of gold.
Within this paragraph, 3 characters were mentioned — Emery Staines has a word count of 88, Quee Long has a word count of 16 and Crosbie Wells The red underlined text suggests location mentions; in this case these locations are related to the pile of gold. This same method has been applied to all pages of the book.
Before plotting these data into charts, the extracted values were organised manually by hand, and digitally with Microsoft Excel for data that are quantitative. Dimensions The posters, each measuring by mm, is exactly 4 times the size of the original book. This dimension was arrived based on the intention to fold these posters into quarters, and to use them to make up parts of the process book which will be the same size as the original novel.
The medium blue illustrates regular indicators related to the structures of the book and the flat gold illustrates indicators that suggest relations with the pile of gold. Medium Blue was used as it resembles the colours used on the original book cover. The printing technique is very similar to screen-printing using a stencil-based process and spot colours.
The colours produced are unique to this printing method only. Diagram Medium Digital vectors were used to draw these posters as it guarantees absolute fidelity to quantitative data. Paper Recypal 70gsm, supplied by RJ Paper , was used as its quality is most similar to the original novel. The first half of the book talks about the process of the whole project; the second half of the book shows the project outcome.
When bound, it has 12 signatures and 96 pages. Each signature is made up of 2 posters. When dismantled, there are 24 posters in total. The project was presented on a standard sized booth, displaying the 12 posters on the booth wall. On the pedestal, there will be 3 books—the original book in its mint condition, the dissected original book that was used in the process of data mining, and the process book that is from the outcome of the project. Exhibition images photographed by Beton Brut.
I owe particular thanks to Eleanor Catton for her book, The Luminaries, for it has been what inspired me to first conceive this project. Without her book, her meticulousness to details and far-sightedness to its structure, this project would not have been possible.
This project has fuelled the start of a fierce interest in Data Visualisation, for it is the most appropriate medium that can bring together two of my biggest interests—Design and Fiction. I am grateful for this opportunity. I would also like to acknowledge with gratitude my appreciation to Associate Professor Danne Ojeda Hernandez, my respective supervisor, for her guidance during the term of this project.
She has been very patient and helpful.
I am thankful to be taken under her supervision and have benefitted greatly from the consultations we have had regarding this project. This work could not have been completed without her valuable assistance. I am also indebted to Assistant Professor Astrid C. Kensinger, my respective co-supervisor, for she has been very sincere and generous in providing references relating to information design and data visualisation.
I have greatly enjoyed our conversations and discussions. Without her help and encouragement, this project would not have been as refined and comprehensive. I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to Adjunct Lecturer KK Ong, who has been my previous respective co-supervisor. I thank him, especially for his patience, assistance and generosity. Sless, D. Spring, Educational Communication and Technology. Learning and Visual Communication, 21 1 , Card et al, Readings in Information Visualization.
Using Vision to Think, 7. Gray, C. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. Gobert, I. Thoughts on Designing Information. Holt, M. Tufte, E. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Graphics Pr. The Man Booker Prize n. Eleanor Catton n. Eleanor Catton Biography. Masters, T. I'm abandoning this book, with regret for having read it against my better judgement, without more thorough research. And yes, I'm two-starring and reviewing an unfinished book. If that offends you to your very core, then stop reading now.
You've been warned!
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