After depriving myself of sleep and taking a chance that my poster would work it?「どィび「s way through the print queue in time for class (we were told to allow 48 hours and I submitted my job at 2 a.m.), I gladly hung my poster on the wall with everyone else during grad studio this afternoon.

data visualization poster

As this was our first big endeavor for grad studio, Dan Boyarski invited guests to check out the work and also provide an objective opinion on the results. Ben Fry, the 2006-2007 Nierenberg Chair of Design, was in attendance.

Part of my research into data visualization included many visits to visualcomplexity.com, which includes a handful of data visualization projects by none other than Ben during his time at the MIT Media Lab.

The way Dan conducts critiques with outside guests is he asks them what they?「どィび「re drawn to and to sort of think aloud what they?「どィび「re seeing. Ben was asked to go first, and he didn?「どィび「t choose my poster.

Instead, he focused on a much smaller, hand-drawn sketch of the measurement of coffee versus sleep represented on continuous sine wave that corresponded to the days of the week.

The next guest chose my poster. After a few comments, Dan asked Ben if he had comments. Naturally, he did.

Having looked at his stuff for inspiration, it was really cool to have him point to the flaws in my visualization: the meaning of using spheres or circles; the length of the lines; the trouble with three-dimensional space. All good stuff.

During a break, I talked with him a bit and told him about seeing some of his previous work. He said he doesn?「どィび「t really want to be grouped with the lot on visualcomplexity.com, because one, those projects are old, and two, he feels that complexity is exactly not the point. The point is simplicity.

In fact, his other comments during the critique reflected this mindset. He seems to want to simply rather than make something look complex?「どィてpossibly for the sake of making it look complex or for aesthetic reasons.

Some more of his criticism of my piece was that it was difficult to determine what the main connection was (my piece was titled ?「どィ?Making Connections?「どィャ), and that the meaning of the objects and placement of the lines was perhaps arbitrary (In fact, they were, somewhat, but not completely).

We talked a little bit about how he uses processing for his data visualization. He said that creating my lines would have required four lines of code. I downloaded processing last week, looked at some of the example code, but didn?「どィび「t have time to dig in. But his comment gives me compelling reason.

He concluded our conversation by saying it would allow me to ?「どィ?make mistakes faster,?「どィャ which isn?「どィび「t a Ben Fry original, but it’s still a worthy comment. Because making mistakes slow sucks.

Overall, however, I was happy with my progress. My initial idea was a bar graph (I told this to Ben incidentally, and he seemed to support the bar graph if it made it simpler). So I came a long way, and I feel I learned a lot along the way, even if my visualization wasn’t perfect.

For this project, unlike some of my summer projects, I think I stepped out of the comfort zone, and I feel good about that.