My Week 7 Response

D’Ignazio & Klein’s “Feminist Data Visualization”:

We are all aware that there are different kinds of learning styles and yet a majority of the time I find that my university education revolves mostly around the reading/writing style. I guess this is a given as an English Literature major, but is this really all that a school has to offer? OF COURSE NOT. I’ve discovered a variety of sources of knowledge, such as Nerdwriter1‘s Youtube channel (a collection of video essays where we get a combination of both visuals and audio), and taken some undergrad classes that went beyond reading scholarly essays or novels, but these were few. Perhaps my own learning style was what made me zero in on data journalism (the inclusion of data that can: assist a story, act as a tool to represent the story, or “to create an emotional bond with a story or issue [11], or to engage and impress readers with beauty and complexity” (3.5)) and encouraged me to seek out examples that the article failed to include:

The Guardian’s Article on the leak of NSA files by Edward Snowden (this article is amazing, I love how it incorporates videos and interviews and interactive tools alongside the text)

BBC’s “Which sport are you made for? Take our 60-second test” (this is more of a fun example – apparently I should get into netball)

As these examples have illustrated, a variety of learning styles can be implemented into one article and with the assistance of technology, we don’t have to limit ourselves to just the written word. Therefore the question that I have asked myself is “will the increase in popularity of data journalism (and other visualization forms) allow more accessibility to information and news to a larger audience, both in terms of numbers of readers and comprehension of the given information? ”

Chun’s “On Software, or the Persistence of Visual Knowledge”:

Reading this article influenced me to reflect on my keyword, hardware, and how difficult it was to solely focus on defining it without its counterpart, software. As Chun has included in her article:

Historian Paul Ceruzzi likens it to an onion, “with many distinct layers of software over a hardware core.” This onionlike structure, however, is itself a programming effect: one codes by using another software program: software and hardware (like genes and DNA) cannot be physically separated. (28)

Another aspect of the article that I noted in my margins was the mention of how computer languages need to be iterable in order to be considered a language at all. I can recall this term when I was more familiar with Java but for anyone who is not as familiar with computer programming, this can appear to be a foreign term. I was surprised that Chun didn’t provide some context or definition so my initial response was to skip over it without fully understanding what the concept was until I revisited it (with the help of someone more knowledgeable in computer science than I am) and realized that I have used it before. If I am remembering the term correctly, iterable is like a method that allows a function to repeat or perform a task continuously a certain amount of times. For example, you would input (in Java anyway) i=10 to command a task/action to be done 10 times (it’s like putting something on a continuous loop).

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One thought on “My Week 7 Response

  1. That’s a really interesting question Jacqueline. I had never really given much thought to the lack of visual tools within our field of study, but you bring up some good points. There is no one set way to receive information, it changes from person to person and as such the processes of transmitting information must change if we want ta information to be accessible on a wider scale.

    I wonder if D’Ignazio and Klein’s question of “whose view of the world does visualization represent?” is missing an aspect of consideration. That being, who is a visualization accessible to? Could it be that with the shift to incorporate more aspects of visualization, that you have pointed out, we are moving towards a broader thinking about how visualizations and information as a whole are transmitted? I’m thinking more in terms of things like closed captioning, or sensory deprivation/heightening experiments that work around cutting off a sense yet still create the feeling of a full experience. Could these be considered a continuation of ‘visualizations’ that work around the need for sight to allow different avenues of access?

    I also began to reflect on my keyword, computer, in relation to the Chun article, especially in regards to her discussion of programming and software. Chun remarks that ” ‘Programming’ comprised the human task of making connections, setting switches, and inputting values” a process that she labels as “direct programming” and goes on to explain that this manual process changed over to more of an electronic one in 1947 through use of “programs that could be coded by setting switches, which corresponded to sixty stored instructions, rather than by plugging in cables” (28). Although I acknowledge that there is a definite progression in regards to how programming is managed from one system tot he next, I can’t help but see that there is still a large element of human influence. It’s easy to picture these amazing pieces of technology that seemingly pull code out of nowhere at the click of a button, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the processes of programming and coding. But Chun’s explanation of the progression of this process has made me see more of the human behind the computer, the person who begins the process of computing itself. The programming embedded in computers is onlyithere because it was at some point visualized and processed by a human mind, and then embedded within the technology to continue performing its function without necessitating further manual repetition. The mechanical computer can only exist to the extent with which the human computer is able to create it and power it with manual processes that then become mechanical to in turn allow for further human interaction with the interface, and so it cycles till the end product is achieved.

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