Let’s get visual.

Data. It seems like such a simple concept. However in the 21st century with the immense proliferation of social media and the continual advancement in technology, this four-letter word has become much more complex and essential to our everyday lives.

We live in a time where information (data) is often translated from words, into zeros and dashes (binary data) and then back to words, but a staggering 65% (Crew 2015) of the world are visual learners. Images are processed much more efficiently than text at a speed of 13 milliseconds (Trafton 2014), compared to the 250 milliseconds taken to process text.

Neuroscientist agree that text simply can’t do what images can do, visual stimulus amplifies any message by accelerating communication, increasing comprehension, improving retention and stimulating a greater emotional responses.

Data journalist David McCandless (2010) states that by “visualising information it turns it into an info map to follow. Data visualisation therefor combines the language of the eye and the language of the mind”.


See interactive Wind Map

McCandless goes on to explain how by analysing the relationship between numbers, and by connecting absolute figures and relative figures with consideration to the wider context. We are able to see patterns and connections scattered across information, enabling us to see the bigger picture. This aggregation, curation and exploration of informational patterns is exactly what Vannevar Bush’s information system, known as the Memex (an automated information management system) aimed to achieve.

By applying information visualisation to the aggregated data, in the form of info graphics, charts, or graphs; viewers are able to process a collection of information faster and bypass any irrelevant information. If data is the new oil, then infographic are the engine.

So what does this all mean for my digital artefact? As a graphic designer my favourite aspect is possesses the ability to design information in a way that tells a visual story, done through highlighting the information that is important and framing it in away that makes sense and is easily digested. Thus, I was drawn to the medium of info graphics and data visualisation.

For my project I want to explore the aesthetics of data, examine the impact of visual literacy and its effects on cognition (Neuroscience) and examine how data visualisation can be used to generate new insight into issues. I want to have a go at aggregating and analysing a piece of data and creating my own piece of data visualisation. So stay tuned and watch out because things about to get visual.


Trafton , A 2014, In the Blink of An Eye, accessed 15 March 2016, MIT News, http://news.mit.edu/2014/in-the-blink-of-an-eye-0116In the blink of an eye

Crew, M 2015 Most Humans Are Visual Learners, accessed 12 March 2016, http://bootstrap-mktg.com/marketing-2/humans-visual-learners-2/

McCandless, D 2010, The Beauty of Data Visualisation, TedGlobal, accessed 10 March 2016, http://www.ted.com/talks/david_mccandless_the_beauty_of_data_visualization


7 thoughts on “Let’s get visual.

  1. This sounds like an awesome digital artefact idea and something that most users wouldn’t recognise but would appreciate if it were done with the aesthetics promised. Upon reading this I thought of my own modes of interpretation and I conform to the statistics you provided in that I process the visual medium faster than that of text. When taking notes in a classroom setup I find myself always starting with a mind map interface. Still predominantly text inclusive, the visual layout and type, a mindmap offers expansion and trains of thought to blossom. A web-tool I’ve recently come across is a “Interactive visualization and exploration platform for all kinds of networks and complex systems, dynamic and hierarchical graphs.” It’s called Gephi (https://gephi.org/) and really intrigues me into how statistical based data is processed and presented as a networking canvas. The platform is free and open source, allows cross connections with platforms and runs on Mac, Windows and Linux. This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YedNf0EzaW0) showcases some of these advantages and powers of the service. I’m not sure if this is something you’ve explored but perhaps offers some tinkering for you to look at points from social media for example. It seems data visualisation can offer some useful insight within marketing, trends and business, so I look forward to what you can produce from an aesthetic perspective.


    1. Those resources sound amazing, I am going to give them a go and explore wether I can implement them into my project so thanks for suggesting them. I am hoping my visualisations will bring some insights. I was thinking of exploring either an event and digging deeper into the statistics and how they can bring insights and understanding to the event. Additionally I am considering wether to create an analysis of the DIGC major and investigate the major subjects and see if this information can help the university attract more students to the amazing major that is Digital communication. Feel free to let me know if you have any insights or events that you think would be interesting to explore. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the design elements you are drawing upon; can’t wait to see what the final product ends up as! I would love to suggest some possible directions for research:
    Perhaps exploring different ways of representing data, and what elements these various graphical representations best apply to. For example, does a pie chart best represent time, or are there other graphs which represent this element better?
    Do these data representations need to be informative, or can they be abstract? Take for example videos which create a visualisation of musical data (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1k44Tr0pu4) – often times it doesn’t tell a lot about the song (if you watched it without the sound on, you would not be able to tell what key it’s in, what instruments are being used, etc.), however it is still a visualisation of the data supplied in a way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Am_IvcRvdDY
    Could you also explore the way in which users are able to comprehend data in different ways comparing the different perspectives based on ones own life influences (http://www.grandin.com/inc/visual.thinking.mind.autistic.person.html), perhaps even exploring the difference between data visualisation for adults and children (http://io9.gizmodo.com/5637134/children-and-adults-see-the-world-in-fundamentally-different-ways)


    1. These are amazing aspects to explore, especially the notion that data can be visualised but doesn’t always have to be interpreted to be quantified. Thanks for the suggestions, will explore them in the coming weeks.


  3. Data is pretty amazing when you think about it. It’s important to remember (because my IPT teacher back in High School drilled it into my head), that data is “raw, unprocessed information”, and the relationship between the two is pretty important. It’s so much easier to read through information that’s formatted nicely, rather than trying to translate the data yourself and make sense of it all.

    The points you make about using visual learning vs reading is great! Visual information is like the next stage of information, because it’s shown so much more clearer, and like you pointed out, we can process it and understand it so much faster (That wind map looked really cool!)

    I’m keen to see what comes out of your digital artefact, because nothing satisfy’s me more than a good infographic.


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