Barton and Barton on Ideology and the Map

In this chapter, Barton and Barton seek to explain the rhetorical purposes of a map and how human experiences influence how they are perceived. They begin with two examples, one from Huckleberry Fin and the other from Borgés about a mythical empire. In Huckleberry Fin, Huck states that they must be in Illinois because everything around them is green and that they cannot possibly be in Indiana because he does not see any pink around him. His assumption comes from the fact that he has seen a map many times with each state being a different color and took the ideology of the colors as facts of the real world. In the mythical empire example, the cartographers of the empire could make perfect maps but found that small maps were somehow missing something. To remedy this, they constructed a map that was the same size as the empire and were able to match every structure point for point. The map created by the cartographers fails the purpose of being a map because it covers the entire empire and cannot be used to find your way around. The authors continue on to explain that map sales frequently increased during times of war by those with military forces in other countries. These areas gained a stigma because the maps became known for being used by war efforts. The authors also discuss that maps have been criticized for being oversimplified to show tourist destinations and attractions.

The image below is of a fairly simplified treasure map. We can easily see that this map would serve a purpose, to find hidden treasure, but does not do so very effectively. The map is far too simple to be interpreted convincingly and does not show enough detail to direct the viewer to the correct spot. A few spots on the map also try to convince the viewer of different things. The skull rock, monster in the upper right corner, ship, and blowing cloud all try to convince the viewer (whether convincingly or unconvincingly) that the area they are in is a dangerous place. Modern viewers can also look at this map and see those same visual cues and immediately associate this map as one that is used by pirates from our experiences with movies and television shows.

Question: Are physical maps still relevant with our vast access to maps on the internet? Google maps has multiple styles of map that can be accessed, should we criticize these different forms of map for being too simple or complex?


Dombrowski on the Celebrex© Ad

In this article, Dombrowski discusses the ethics (or lack thereof) of a Celebrex© ad that aired in 2005. The ad in question can be found at Dombrowski begins by mentioning that the advertisement is in fact rhetorically ethical due to the fact that it does follow FDA regulations and discusses the possibly side effects of Celebrex©. He also states that the ad is bad ethically due to its intent towards the audience. Dombrowski begins his analysis by stating that the advertisement manipulates the cognitive connection people make between depictions of happy people and animals against the risks and side effects of the drug. He uses Eisenberg’s concept of duplicity to state that the risk information was presented, but done in such a way that it cannot be fully comprehended. Dombrowski then describes how the woman, man, dog, and fish are white outlines against a calming and reassuring blue background. The activities performed by the man, woman, and dog are meant to be seen as normal and carefree and show that the drug can be used to allow these activities to be completed without pain or fear. The lines that make up the figures are not solid lines, but snippets of text that are unreadable except when they are magnified to emphasize the audio. The written text is overshadowed by the visual elements of the ad and, as Dombrowski states, acts like the fine print of contracts that deter close examination. Dombrowski concludes that by viewing the advertisement rhetorically, we can see that it is misleading and merely seeks to distract the audience.

The advertisement below is a good example of misleading information presented in drug ads. In the video, Advil PM is being marketed to help users sleep better by relieving aches and pains that regularly occur throughout the night. This claim does not have any scientific support to back up the claim and does not state how it differs from other Advil products. The video also claims that it works better than Tylenol PM again leaving out any scientific evidence or statistics. Finally, the advertisement does not include a list of side effects or potential drug reactions that may occur from taking this medication.

Question: Is there a way to present all of the facts (about drugs or other products) while still being persuasive and trying to sell the items?

Manning and Amare on Visual Ethics

In this article, Manning and Amare seek to elaborate on the ethics of visual displays. They begin by defining three categories into which the goals of a visual display can be sorted. Visual elements that serve the first goal, to provoke feelings, is referred to decoratives. Visual elements that serve the second goal, to provoke actions, is referred to as indicatives. Visual elements that serve the third goal, promoting understanding, is referred to as informatives. The authors state that there has been very little research done on visual ethics outside of accuracy and injury issues. They continue on to summarize the six ethical approaches of analyzing images. These approaches are Categorical Imperative, Utilitarianism, Hedonism, Golden Mean, Golden Rule, and Veil of Ignorance. The authors tie these six approaches to oral and written communication by stating that the same approaches cover written and oral communication. They state that choosing ethical graphics goes beyond knowing the rhetorical situation in which they will be used. They continue on to explain that rhetorical visuals are only effective if they have deliberate goals they are trying to portray and successfully portray those goals. Just because a visual is rhetorically effective, does not mean that it is ethical. They explain that those designing visuals should have a clear goal in mind as well as consider the goals a viewer will have while looking at the image.

The image below is something that Manning and Amare discuss in their article. Some stores, such as Target, Kmart, and Kohl’s, use red signs throughout their stores to entice people into buying products without putting much thought into their purchases. This accomplishes the stores’ immediate goal of selling merchandise, but fails to accomplish the long term goal of getting return customers if the customers realize they were baited into buying the products. Places like Walmart use blue coloring and signs throughout their stores to prompt customers to think about their choices before buying products, effectively getting return customers. Joann’s gives out weekly coupons in the mail to entice people to buy their products. This accomplishes both their short term goal of getting customers into the stores as well as the long term goal of getting customers to become repeat shoppers.

Question: How does visual ethics relate to animation? Are all of the approaches of visual ethics relevant to animation?

Dragga and Vos on The Inhumanity of Technical Illustrations

In this article, Dragga and Vos seek to explain how technical displays are dehumanized and how that issue can be fixed. The authors explain that when looking for bias in graphs and other technical illustrations, most authors focus on distortion and deceit of the data. They say that the definition of visual ethics needs to be expanded to include humanization of technical illustrations. The use the example from Tufte of a graph of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and the number of troops he began with compared to the number he ended with. They state that this graph fails to depict the human condition and the killing of 412 thousand soldiers. The authors continue on to explain that most researchers and teachers who analyze and interpret graphical images fail to consider the human elements that comprise the graph. They show a number of examples of plain graphs (from the fishing and logging industries) that show the number of casualties of different labor sectors without remarking on the human experience.  The authors state that we do not need to include photos of dead bodies or other gruesome photos into the graphs, simply putting an image of one of the victims in the background would draw the human experience. The show that by adding pictographs to the graph of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, the graph shows the casualties and becomes somewhat humanized.

The image below is a good example of one that needs to be humanized. As it stands, the graph merely separates the causes of a deadly disease into various categories without any relation to the victims of the disease. This can create a large stigma among the groups affected by the disease. An easy way to humanize this graph would be to show healthy individuals affected with the disease next to or near their respective category. Another thing to add to the graph would be an explanation that not everyone who is HIV+ will spread the disease, or ways of preventing the disease from spreading. All of these ideas would add the human experience to the graph.

Question: Where do we draw the line between technical illustrations and humanized illustrations? Is it our responsibility (as students and animators) to make sure the human experience is represented in our graphs?

Kostelnick on Data Displays

In this article, Kostelnick seeks to combat Tufte’s assumption that data displays must always be minimalistic for viewers to understand while being true to the data.  In the first part of the article, Kostelnick discusses that charts and graphs need to have clarity, but that this clarity hinges upon how the viewer understands presented information. He also mentions that the chart designers must take the target audience into consideration. For lay viewers, the chart should draw their attention first and possibly add “chart-junk” to entice them to view it before they will interpret the information while a technical, monochromatic graph could be better for scientific publication. Kostelnick also says that the kairos must be considered when making and analyzing data displays. What may have some importance and relevance now may be interpreted another way entirely in the future. Kostelnick continues on to explain that nature may be part of reading graphs and charts, but nurture is at the heart of it as we are not born with the ability to decipher them. The types of graphs you learn to read are heavily dependent on what social discourse communities you take part in. Kostelnick says that the social context for which a graph or display is made must be considered. A graph with certain visual elements may mean something different to two different countries; a plain graph may be sleek and lean to one person while appear naked and unappealing to another.

The video below is a good example of what can happen when someone creates an animation that not everyone is going to understand. The fast paced and loud audio relates to the announcers at an American football game, but people from other countries may not understand that connection. The bright colors may entice some people to continue watching the video while it will make others not want to watch it. The video also brings in elements of American football (such as the jerseys, size of the field, and stands) that those unfamiliar with the sport may not understand.

Question: When making graphs and charts, should animators try to create multiple animations of the same data to appeal to a wider audience, or make a single animation that has a target audience?

Tufte on Visual Explanations

In this article, Tufte seeks to show that there is an effective and ineffective way of presenting information visually. He begins by retelling the story of John Snow who discovered that a well in London was causing people to contract and die from cholera. He continues on to explain that, prior to Snow, people believed that cholera was spread through the air instead of by water. Tufte says that because Snow had a good idea as well as a good method, he was able to figure out how to intervene in the epidemic. Snow placed the data in an appropriate context by creating a graphical display to show that a possible cause-effect relationship existed instead of a time-series display from his data of the deaths caused by cholera. Snow made quantitative comparisons by comparing where those who died of cholera to those who escaped the epidemic lived. Snow also considered alternate explanations by showing that some deaths that occurred outside the radius where people died had a connection to the well. Finally, Snow was willing to account for possible errors in the numbers that he found for his case. Tufte explains that Snow created a problematic dot map because it did not fully answer the question “compared with what?” Tufte concludes this portion of the article by stating that all evidence must be shown in statistical analysis. This is true of tables, text, information, and, especially, graphical elements.

The image below is of fatalities caused by Spanish flu in Iceland in 1918. This map is similar to the one created by Snow in his investigation of cholera. Because the deaths are much fewer than in Snow’s case, this map is much easier to reproduce for general consumption. This map does not indicated what caused many large areas of Iceland to avoid being infected by the Spanish flu virus, similar to reproductions of Snow’s maps. This map does show more details than Snow’s map by showing what percentage of the deaths took place in each region.

Question: Does the idea that all data must be show in statistical analysis carry over to animated infographics?

10/28 Readings

The first article, Communication with Animated Infographics, give effective ways to make and use animated infographics. The author begins by stating that the most common use of animated infographics is to depict information or statistics. The author states that, to be effective, the infographic should use iconic graphics, use a storyline, use post-production animation, or some combination of the three elements. The author continues on to say that another common use of animated infographics is to show process and procedure. The two examples that are given are stop-motion animation and organizing in segments. The second article, Themes for a Good Infographic, give multiple ways to create a good infographic. The author states that good infographics provide a new way of seeing and thinking as well as tells a story. The information should be well organized and the infographic as a whole should work on multiple levels meaning the general idea should be understood at first glance and the viewer can search harder for other information. The scale for graphs should be as accurate as possible and the visual should be well designed. The final point is that the graphics should be able to stand on its own without text or audio. The last article, The Not-So-Functional Art, discusses the large number of effective and ineffective infographics. The authors begin by explaining there have been a surge of infographics over the past few years, but only about 5% of them have been useful. They explain that primarily the infographics should focus on function over art to ensure the viewers understand the information being presented. They do say that art can be put before function to encourage viewers to think about the information being presented.

The example below is an example of an effective infographic. The video shows different statistics about how different people learn and understand information and how infographics can aid in that process. The video definitely uses the first article’s points of using iconic graphics and telling a story. The art style limits the accuracy of graphs that would be included in the graphic, so the creator did not include any. The music behind the visuals moves the viewer through each portion of the animation. The graphics are also aesthetically pleasing and encourage the viewer to continue watching until the end.

Question: Is it possible for simplistic but effective infographics to be artistic? Do all artistic infographics make it hard to decipher the information presented?