The Process of Visualizing Data As A Mode of Inquiry
Speaker: Rebecca Mushtare, Marymount Manhattan College. Moderator: Madeleine Clare Elish. Abstract: Visualizing data is not an easy task, and can be implemented in a variety of ways and with a variety of techniques. As a media maker, I have become more and more interested in the idea of dynamic data and information design. Using an ongoing data visualization project, "Self-Disclosed: The Diaspora of My Information," as a case study I will explore the process of developing a visualization system as an inquiry methodology. Developing such a system requires a designer to formulate specific goals for the system (including questions the system should be designed to address), and make aesthetic and structural choices that impact interpretation and analysis. Each of these choices (intentional or otherwise) defines rules that govern the visualization environment. "Self-Disclosed" is a visual accounting system to track the "spending" of "personal" and "private" data in return for information and services (largely on the net). Many of the initial choices I made for the manual prototype were made based on my experience as a designer. Once I began to move beyond my prototype I was faced with questions about privacy, access and ownership (all key questions the project was meant to explore) as I began to negotiate distribution options, automated components and the future evolution of the project. The answers to each of these questions are components of the visualization (even if they aren't visible) and impact a user's experience of the data. I will provide examples of these contemplations and how those choices could potentially impact the final visualization.