Interpretations of Visualisations #Visible

25 Apr

When I went to a friend’s birthday party a couple of years ago everyone had to dress up as something beginning with “P,” so I decided to cover my whole body in post-it notes.  I got into a conversation with a few people at the party I didn’t know and they were having a debate about the ways in which someone’s costume reflected their personality. One of them said to me, “I reckon you must be a super-organised person with all those post-it notes!” and the other one said, “no way! She must be completely disorganised and chaotic!” It’s interesting to reflect on how people interpret different things depending on their background and experiences.

Look at this image..

Some people may see it as just a glass of milk…some may see it as a glass half full and some half empty. What does each interpretation represent? Images and visualisations will always be interpreted differently by different people, even as something as simple as a glass of milk and post-it notes.

Now, taking a look at this visualisation:

Looking at it for the first time I thought it was pretty boring…just lines and grooves. But when I read the background information and applied it, my whole perception of it changed. It became, as Andrew said in the lecture, a “network of data visualisation.” Very complex and fascinating – every single line, groove and colour that is visible in the visual has a different meaning and contributes to the network as a whole.

“Each arc represents a unique person, where the yellow color denotes how long they lived before being shot, and the white color how long they could have lived. Each arc is clickable and reveals more detailed information about that casualty.”

It is quite shocking how much of an impact a visualisation can have once the facts behind it are applied. It is also amazing to think that you can invent a very complex network visualisation or very simple one out of the same information. For example, you could make a scientific graph to represent what 200 calories look like, or you could simply use two photos:

So next time you look at a visualisation, don’t judge it until you have read up on the background info, and think about the endless ways you could create another visualisation to represent exactly the same thing.


One Response to “Interpretations of Visualisations #Visible”

  1. James April 25, 2013 at 8:13 am #

    Very interesting read, will have to try and not judge visualisation’s at first glance!

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