Archive | May, 2011

The worth of Facebook to the Individual

18 May

Following our week on Visualisations, we were given the task to create our own visualisations on a topic of our choice. Preferably, a topic that consisted of data that we needed to make visible through our creations. After a couple of days of brainstorming, my group and I, consisting of Kady Holt and Luis Charalambos decided to base our data on the well-recognised social media platform, Facebook.

We figured that because the majority of our class do actually use Facebook, then this would definately be of interest to them. So what about Facebook? What about Facebook can we make visible to our audience? We came up with an idea to create a survey on ‘the worth of Facebook to the individual’ on SurveyMonkey, a free online questio

nnaire tool and then share it on Facebook in order to get atleast 100 people to complete it. Our questions were based on things that normally one wouldnt think of when using Facebook. For example, if Facebook started charging to use its features, how much would you be willing to pay? Our full presentation can be viewed here.

Average user spends 1 hour a day on Facebook

The question for slide 8 was: On average, how many hours a day do you spend on facebook and is relevant to our overall theme as it gives us an idea of just how much time a day people are dedicating to facebook and social networking.
The use of the circles to represent this data basically uses sizing as a respective method to measure the percentages
from our data. The reason for this type of visualisation pattern is that sizing effectively portrays the
most frequent response from a total of 100 users which was 1 hour, therefore that circle is the largest.
The circles and arrows give the visualisation the effect of a clock which is relevant as our question is based on
time spent.

How dependant are you on Facebook?

The next slide visualises our data that we gathered on how dependant users are on facebook.
This question again reveals that people are becoming more and more attached to Facebook and are now using it for
various reasons that go beyond communication. i.e. creating/organising events, seeing what others are up to etc
The results were categorised on a scale, and, out of 100 users, 43 of them answered ‘fairly dependant’, which worked out to be a percentage of 43.4%. I chose to represent these 43 users by creating a block of 100 default profile picture images and then shading 43 of them in red. This type of visualisation gives a clear idea that almost half of the users are dependant and are relying on facebook to do simple tasks that could still be completed without it.

Would you still feel the need to use Facebook?

Our final question was whether or not the users would still feel the need to use Facebook if they couldnt access it on their phones. In order to visualise this data, we have used a method of colour and contrasting to distinguish those who would not still feel the need (dark blue shade), from those who would (white shade), along a u-shaped bar. The use of text also informs the viewers, giving them the basis for understanding what the visual is showing without any percentages present. This type of visualisation revealed to us that users are now accessing Facebook on their phones as a means of convenience and because of the fact that it is there which is definitely the main cause for the recent increase in Facebook mobile users.

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Information really is beautiful…

8 May

Is this enough to fix climate change?

The readings for this week were quite interesting, particularly the one titled “The Global Warming Skeptics versus the Scientific Consensus” that can be viewed here. What I liked about this reading in particular was how it managed to summarise and break down the effects of climate change, a pretty major and complex issue surrounding us today, through simple methods of visualisation. Various tools such as bold font and interesting colours have also assisted in making this reading attention-grabbing. Science has never been one of my stong-points and if this sort of information was presented to me as a single, dull document with boring font I can tell you now that I definately would not look twice at it. However, the respective methods used have revealed this data in a much more condensed form, therefore making my task of reading the information on global warming not so painful for me and much easier to understand and grasp.

Another example of the power of visualisation to inform its readers is the images that were displayed on google after typing “Polar bears + climate change” into the searchbox. The images that arose showed Polar bears clinging on to a tiny peice of ice and included very minimal text. Instead of using text, the images are relying on nothing but the visual to send out a clear message on the negative effects of climate change. The message may be there and the visual may be imformative, but is it effective?

This issue was brought up in class, and after quite a bit of discussion, I do agree that using the polar bear as the main symbol for climate change may not leave that much of an impact on its viewers. The reasons for this being that not everyone is an animal lover, so for those who aren’t, putting a suffering polar bear in this image will not have that much of an effect on them as they will lack a sense of sympathy for these animals.

Another issue that struggles to get much attention is the death of the music industy. This visualisation, however, successfuly depicts the causes of its predicted death through graphs that continue to decrease in size as the years go by in an attempt to inform viewers on just how vital this issue really is.

I also came across this video below that explains how information overload can be avoided by turning complex data into eye-catching visuals.

Whether they be effective or not, it is safe to say that visualisations are definately becoming the a driving force in the media industry today as text-based data is slowly being replaced with the visual therefore transforming even the most complex, brain-busting information into something quite beautiful!

Week 8 – Visualisation

1 May

What does 200 calories look like?

This week was quite interesting as we were introduced to the concept of visualization which I suprisingly grasped quite quickly.  Well, atleast I hope  so! Basically what I gathered was that this concept of visualisation basically refers to the process of making an invisible practice visible through the use of a variety of image-based visuals. The process of visualisation is used to effectively represent and communicate types of data ranging from statistics, quantities and maps to information graphics. Various examples of these different types of visualisations can be found at http://infosthetics.com. These examples suggest that almost anything can be converted into visual data and they are usually things that are invisivle to us including doses of nuclear data and facebook users distributed around the world. Take a look at the Placebook application.

From the lecture, it was also mentioned that visualisations are also used for instructional purposes and use dashed or dotted lines to indicate temporal  positions and movement paths such as the direction in which to turn the knob to operate a a machine or the different stages to assemble an object. Examples of the dashed line in use in everyday life can be found here.

Before this weeks explorations on this concept, I never really noticed the power and importance of visualisations as forms of expression and was left amazed at their ability to make something that is invisible to the eye, visible! Also, in order to understand a particular image, we do not necessarily require written text or words as these visualisations themselves have the ability to convey deep meaning and connotations through the physical data.

So what exaclty does 200 calories look like? Just take a look at the image above.