04 Feb 2013

I know I’m a little bit late on this post but here are some data visualization projects that I liked. It was hard for me to choose just three because this is a field I’m very interested yet have little experience in so here is a longer-than-asked-for list:
1. silenc by Momo Miyazaki, Manas Karambelkar, and Kenneth Aleksander Robertsen
This project is an exploration of those excess letters that do not contribute to a word’s pronunciation. The artists implemented this exploration in two ways: they colored the silent letters red while leaving the pronounced letters black so that one could read using all of the letters or only the pronounced letters by utilizing a red filter to hide the silent letter. They also created two copies of the same text, one with the pronounced letters only and the other with the silent letters. What struck me so much about this project is the simplicity of the subject matter and how easily it is taken for granted. We are so used to seeing and reading words the way that they are acceptably spelled that we don’t pay attention to the access. This begs the question of how easily can a text be read without the access information. The artists cleverly and successfully provide an outlet for each individual to try to answer this question for themself.
2. Time-Lapse Writing of a Research Paper by Timothy Weninger
For this project the artist creates a time-lapsed video of his progress from working on a research paper. I thought that this project was very well executed in that it easily communicates the rate of progress and the relationship of different steps in the progress of the artist’s research. What really adds to the video is the subtleties of the changes the artist made at various points in time. You can see his aesthetics sensibilities at work at the slight re-sizing and re-positioning of the various images that accompany the text.
3. Time Running Parallel by Xárene Eskandar
I particularly like the concept behind this project that explores the “perceptual qualities” of time by superimposing strips of the same scene at different periods of time. As a result, small movements and changes in the landscape become heightened and much more noticeable so that the subtleties of time passage is more enhanced and be better appreciated.
4. These next few projects do a good job of taking a lot of data and condensing it into a clear visible diagram that is readable to even someone who is ignorant to the knowledge:
a) Calendar of Meaningful Dates
This projects assigns each day of the year a size based on its referral by name (i.e. “February 14th” as opposed to “Valentine’s Day”). It very simply and concisely explains intricate relationships between people and different times of the year by distinguishing between “ordinary” days and days that have sub-textual meaning or association in the minds of the masses.
b) An Infographical Look At Walking Dead Kills Over Three Seasons by Andrew Barr and Richard Johnson
I really love the aesthetics of this project that (as the title so concisely describes) depicts the amount of zombies each character in the show Walking Dead creates during each season. What’s really great about this diagram is that I have never watched the show and yet can easily understand the information that is being portrayed. The importance in this diagram is not necessarily on the specific number of zombies created by each character (which it does in fact include), but rather the visual comparison of the number of zombies both between characters and between seasons depicted using varying densities and colors. Lastly, as I mentioned, I think the aesthetics are very well-though out and executed.
c) Futures in Literature From the Past by Giorgia Lupi
I am drawn both to the subject matter and the aesthetics of this project. It depicts for a number of novels the relationship between the year a certain book was written and the year in which the same book describes a fictional future event occurring. Further, it categories these future events based on what kind of impact each has. As such, the project creates an interesting fictional timeline of how future “history” could play out and allows one to see some of the nuances of what one might to change of the present day.
d) Billionaires of the World Ranked and Charted
This project provides an interactive tool for analyzing and comparing the billionaires of the world. Not only does the tool provide a very clean-cut interface that is easy to use and read, it further provides a number of different formats through which the information can be viewed and digested, along with a number of filters to deal with a more limited amount of data at a time. This project is really great at getting the information across and at giving the user an opportunity to manipulate the data they are dealing with.
5. These next few projects deal with different types of sports related data and each provide interesting and unique ways of representing the data they are dealing with:
a) Statistical Network of Basketball by Jennifer Fewell and Dieter Armbruster
I may be intrigued by this project due to the fact that I am currently taken probability and statistics but nevertheless I think that it is a really interesting way to view and analyzing a sport and the various movements/motions that compose that sport. This diagram provides a probabilistic model of the movement of a basketball during a basketball game. I find it to be an extremely interesting, simplified way to view a game which is actually quite nuanced and complex, particularly given that it shows that keeping possession a basketball once you have it is very likely. I think it would be a good exercise to do a study of these diagrams at different levels of play to see how the game changes with experience.
b) NFL Video Screens Compared
This is a relatively simple project that displays the relative sizes of NFL video screens at different stadiums. It is a very small data set in comparison to some of the other projects I have mentioned but it says a lot using so little information. The size of the video screen can be inferred to show the amount of money a given team has, and thus perhaps the amount of money and/or interest/support a team may have from its home city.
c) NFL Fans on Facebook Based on Likes
As the title indicates, this diagram depicts the support of a given region of the USA for a given NFL team. For this project, it is not so much the data or the visualization that intrigues me (though it looks pretty, what it shows is fairly predictable), but rather where the data is coming from. Facebook allows users to be tagged as a “fan” by simple clicking likes but does not require watching of actual games or following their team to any real extent. In this, it is possible to get a much more “full” distribution of than what would be expected.
6. Animated Growth of an Organization by Justin Matejka
This project visualizes the changes in an organization by representing the adding and lost of employees and the transfer of employees from one manager to another. Aesthetically, it is very successful in that it is very intriguing to watch and easy to understand. What I find most interesting about the end result is how organic it looks, so that the organization functions as a living organism instead of a structured, rigid entity. I think that this provides a new outlook on the role of capitalism and employment in the US.
7. Wood Charts Reveal Layers of Underwater World
This project depicts a map of the under-sea-level world through laser-cut layers of wood. I love this project because of the tactile feel it gives to the information it portrays. It no doubt could have been done as a digital project, but the physicality of the dips and grooves give the viewer a better understanding of what is actually going on.
8. Pinball Machine as Etch-A-Sketch by Sam van Doorn
This project tracks the life of a pinball during a game by letting the pinball paints on a poster beneath the flippers. What is interesting about this project is the potential for widely diverse or similar outputs and what that says about the skill of the player. It would be cool to compare the paths made by a variety of players, particularly if each pinball gets a different color of paint so that the longevity of one player’s single pinball as opposed to another is also recorded.