Dombrowski: An Ethical Critique of a Celebrex Ad

The article talks about rhetorical techniques in service of unethical practices towards the viewer. The article was written due to the unethical techniques found in Celebrex advertisement. The author first mention the situation by bringing up the way Celebrex deliver the information. Celebrex provides visual text information in the screen, but those text then soon form a single long line and fits into the graphic of the screen. Dombrowski states that it is impossible for the viewers, especially an elderly viewer to understand this kind of visual effect. Before going into a deeper analysis on this advertisement, Dombrowski first talked about the background of this advertisement. The advertisement is formed because the COX-2 inhibitor approach to pain management has bring people’s attention. And also, Celebrex are well known due to an increase heart attack risk on their product. Bringing those two reasons together, Celebrex tries to find out an appealing way to show the function of their medicine and also give enough information so that the viewers will know the risks associated with using the entire class of medicine. The article then goes into the analysis of the advertisement. The analysis will be focusing on long-standing ethical concerns such as business and communication. Dombrowski first brings up Eric Eisenberg’s “strategic ambiguity” concept. He then mentioned Manning and Amare’s “due diligence”, stating that the communicator should ensure that the viewers fully receive and understand the information. He analysis different points in the advertisement, including background color, the image itself, text and spoken text, stating that those things makes the advertisement unreadable and also brings confuse to the viewer. The overall image of the advertisement is good, but the way it delivers the information makes the advertisement hard to understand.

The link below is the Celebrex video I found in YouTube. The advertisement becomes really hard to understand when it shows the text. The video focuses on a random point on the newspaper and shows the first half of the text on it. The camera then moves to another random position on the newspaper and continues the second half of the text. This confuses the viewer because when the speaker says “If you look closer”, the video then focuses on a random spot that has nothing related to this topic. It looks like the advertisement want to have animation effect that relates to what the speaker is saying, but forgot to actually make the motion effect relate to the topic. The camera moves when the sentence is not yet finished, it makes the viewer hard to find where to focus on. The words on the coffee cup are also distracting, it makes the viewer wants to find out what the word is but the words are just too small for humans to read.

Question: Will this kind of visual effect work on topics other than drug advertisement? Or is it just a bad technique that we should avoid using it?


Manning and Amare- Visual Ethics

The article first focuses on three different kinds of rhetoric strategy. The first one is decorative. The goal for visual decorative is to catch viewers’ attention and evoke feelings. The second one is indicative. Indicative will be exactly opposite from decorative. Instead of focusing on the colors and font use, it focuses more on provoking actions, leading the viewer to a specific information or action. The last one will be informative. Informative can happen in both decorative and indicative. But since the use of color and fancy font in decorative graphic usually distracts the viewer from getting the real information, it is much more difficult to apply both decorative and informative strategy in the same graphic. The article then brings out the six approach of ethical visual by mentioning the point that technical communicators should provide truthful and accurate communications. To this point, I think they are trying to point out that we should include all the aspects in visual just to make sure it’s balanced, but still meets the goal of creating it. The article then brings out how different people think about visual rhetoric to help the reader build up a systematic understanding of the role of visual rhetoric. After the reader builds up the knowledge, they then started to explain what they mean by decorative, indicative and informative. Using those three main strategies, they started to bring up examples and viewpoints that help explain what they mean. Manning and Amare mentioned a lot about Microsoft products. They point out that the purpose of Microsoft office providing visual data graphic is to make the boring information more interesting. However, instead of delivering the information, the cool effects and color makes the power point tied more to power and marketing.

The image below is what we saw in Zer-Aviv’s article. While reading Manning and Amare’s point about decorative, it reminds me about this image. The color and the fashion style of the image are more a decorative use that are useful in evoking feeling to the viewer. This image brings people happiness and kind of makes people interested in what’s happening in this graph. However, knowing that this image was posted for Hiroshima anniversary, we can easily know that this image isn’t using the right visual strategy. What it should be using is the indicative strategy and informative strategy. By making the graphic black and white, it helps the viewer focus on the actual information and the shape of the graph. And even more makes this graphic fit the situation by creating a serious and formal feeling.

ENGL419 A-Bomb

Question: The article mentioned that PowerPoint is bad because it forces people into action without their informed consent. However, is that really good or bad? Since the created animation might help explain the information and also guide the audience to the process of how things happened.

Dan voss and Sam Dragga: Inhumanity Zer-Aviv: Empathy

Both articles kind of head towards the same direction of visual display and human emotion. In Zer-Aviv’s article, he mentioned the empathy in data visualization by giving different examples. He first mentioned the visual graphic of 70th anniversary of Atom Bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. By having such a pretty graphic, it is really easy to confuse the viewer and bring un-related emotion to them. Although the graphic might relates to the data about Atom Bomb in Hiroshima, if we think back to what the topic is actually about, we can see that the visual styles of the graphic are totally unrelated to the serious topic attached to it. Zer-Aviv also brings up example about U.S gun murder. I think this is an example he brought up to be a good way of creating empathy in data visualization. The orange color shows the color of the victim’s life, symbolizing the bright future that they might have. It soon turns to gray and drop to the age that they might live till if they were not dead. This example successfully brings viewer into the right feeling while facing this topic. In Dan voss and Sam Dragga’s article, they focus on the humanity of visual graphics stating that people are deprived from humanity because of the way that the graphic is created. In their article, they bring up several examples about statistical graphics giving only a small amount of information but not focusing on the real information that should be focused on. They also showed two graphics about Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. For the first graph, they mentioned that the graph should’ve use a better way to present the slow dying human instead of just use a simple line graph. They then bring up the second graph showing that although the graphic is statistically redundant, but they are not emotionally redundant.

Zer-Aviv’s article makes sense to me because he gives good examples that help explaining what he’s trying to talk about. In some cases, such as the A-Bomb one, it is just not necessary to create such a fashion and creative graphic based on this serious topic. It would be more necessary to create a black and white graphic that shows the power of the bomb or the death caused by the bomb. A more basic question will be, why does this anniversary even exist? However, Dan voss and Sam Dragga’s article makes no sense to me. Since some graphics were created for a specific purpose, it is impossible to add emotional elements or humanity stuff in it, because that’s just not the way this graph is designed for.

Basic RGB

The image above is the Gun Violence in New York City. According to Dan voss and Sam Dragga this graph should include some kind of human graphic in it showing how many people were injured or affected due to these gun violence. This graph only simply shows the statistics of gun violence, and avoids people from really thinking through who’s the victim of these gun violence.

Question: Do we really need humanity in visual statistical graphics? Or as long as it meets the goal of delivering the information, it should be fine?

CHARLES KOSTELNICK: The Conundrum of Clarity

In Charles Kostelnick’s article, rather than focusing on the credibility of data and the usefulness of data, he focuses more on the reader perspective. First he mentioned about the Rhetoric of Science. Rhetoric of Science is mainly focusing on the clarity of data. To put it simply, it relates to question like “Is the data simple enough?” or “Can the reader get what the visual data is trying to deliver?” He mentioned research about data display, studying about the effectiveness of different data visualization, such as bar graph and pie graph. He then mentioned Rhetorical Adaptation, which basically means how visual data fit into the reader’s need. Some readers prefer more information and some readers prefer lighter display color, the place the reader is sitting and the lighting in the room, these are all factors that will effect the reader’s interpretation of data. In the past, designers who have different work condition or skills are really having hard time. However, technology kind of solves the problem and makes it easier to perform visual data by simply clicking on the mouse or pressing couple buttons. The third will be Social Rhetoric. Social Rhetoric will be different kinds of people or people with different job are used to interacting with specific kind of visual data. This means the understanding of visual data really depends on people’s personal experience. Visual literacy are also different in different cultures and different nations. However, technology also takes part in solving this problem. People now will be able to create different kinds of visual data using the same source of data. Forth will be the Rhetoric of Participation. And there are four different kinds of audience participation. First will be Audience Adaptation. The online data design right now allows the user to interact with the data and be able to adjust it to the way they like. Second will be Visualizing Macro-/Micro-level. Visual data now are able to allow the users to adjust the amount of data they want to see. Audience are able to see the detail of the data, but also at the same time see the bigger scope of the data by simply clicking several buttons. Third will be Animating small multiples. Animated information creates a continuous display, which helps the reader understand what happened from the beginning to the end. Forth will be Impact on Conventions. Although recent technology provides us different ways to display data, sometimes the new created effect are just not necessary.

The image below relates to the last point of audience participation, which is Impact on Conventions. In the image below, the graph will make more sense and easier for the readers to read if it’s using traditional line graph with different colors. Line graphic gives clear visual information on how the population was changed in different time period. The new technology allows the designed to create fancy graph like the image below. However, the motion of the lines and the curves that it is having isn’t necessary. It will easily confuse the reader on what information this graph is trying to deliver.

ENGL419 Graph

Question: Technology brings visual display to another level of information delivery. However, does it make information delivery more complex? Or more easy?

Tufte: Visual Explanations

The article talked about visual and statistical thinking by using Dr. John Snow’s story about cholera epidemic in London as an example. Tufte use the techniques, which Dr. John Snow used to find out the cause of cholera epidemic, to bring up his points about using both visual and statistics to compare and analyze the information. The first point will be Placing data in appropriate context for assessing cause and effect. It basically means that using same amount of information, how we organize the data can lead to different result. For example, using the same data, the two charts shown in p.29 only gives information about how many people were dead in different timing. But by using Dr. John Snow’s way to organize data, he was able to found the cause of cholera and report it to the Board. The second point will be Making quantitative comparisons. This means that we have to determine what to compare with. In Dr. John Snow’s example, to step deeper into the cause of cholera, he compared the data of people who is dead and people who’s still alive. Those two data were collected in the same area, which makes Dr. John Snow easy to figure out the problem. The third point will be Considering alternative explanations and contrary cases. In some point, while doing research on specific topic, people usually ignore the things that might counter their result. However, in Dr. John Snow’s example, we can see that non-related data or alternative cases might also help stabilizing one’s result or even able to lead the research to a deeper level of thinking. The fourth point will be Assessment of possible errors in the numbers reported in graphics. No graphics are perfect, pointing out the possible error and problem will help the reader understand why this graphics is conducted in this way. In Dr. John Snow’s example, the graph that he did isn’t the best graph to represent current situation. He points out the errors and problems in this graph so that future readers are able to do more research or analyze data in different ways. But in conclusion, Dr. John Snow’s logical thinking saves London from cholera epidemic.

The image below shows the general movement of herds in the past few years. This image gives reader information about where the migration was happened and the direction that the herds were moving toward. However, just like Dr. John Snow’s dot map, the animal image in the graph didn’t provide any information about the population of the migration and also what kind of animals participated in the great migration. In the website, there’s actually detail information about the graph that helps the reader understand what happened and also helps the reader recognize what the symbols mean. But the green color difference on the graph actually provides no information, which can easily confuse the reader by providing unrelated information.

ENGL419 Great Migration

Question: How do we determine if we are on the right direction while doing logical thinking using statistics and graphics?

10/28 Reading

The article Communicating with Animated Infographics mentioned two different types of infographics, which is depicting statistics and animated explanations. In depicting statistics, there are three ways to show the statistics information. First will be using Iconic graphics. I didn’t really get what this article is trying to talk about because I have no access to the video. But I think what it’s trying to say is that they use iconic graphics to point out important information that are usually abstract. The second one will be using storyline. The article gives an example of The clock is Ticking on Long Island. I think the video is way too long and contains way too much information, which makes it hard for the viewer to actually absorb it. But I’ve seen several short clip infographics video using storyline. It helps attract viewers attention and makes viewer easier to understand what information the video is trying to deliver. The third one will be using post-production animation. In post-production animation, it combines the actual filmed video with animated objects and infographics in it. It provides a way to combine the data or the information with the actual thing relates to it. And helps the viewer create connection on what the video is trying to talk about. The video Do you know where your food comes from? Did a really great job on combining data with pre-recorded video. The second type of infographics will be animated explanations. Animated explanations is to use animated infographics to explain a process or procedure and there are two ways to show animated explanations. First will be Stop-motion animation. In Stop-motion animation, object are filmed in a special technique which makes it looks like the object is moving by itself. It is a great way to show transmission from one device to another. The second one will be Organizing in segments. In organizing in segment, the video is designed in a way that it controls the frames and movement of the video to make it match the information that it is trying to deliver.

The example below is How Hydro Electric Power Works. This video provides an animation that guides the viewer through different steps of how hydroelectric dam works. This video is video will be an organizing in segments video. It controls the frame and movement speed to guide the viewer to the adventure of generating electricity using hydro energy. However, I will say this is a bad example. The arrow that points out the moving direction of the water is moving too fast, which makes it hard for the viewer to understand what the symbol means. The animation is also moving way too slow which makes it had to keep the viewers’ attention. And the voice over also sounds kind of boring. This prevents the viewer from watching it.

Question: Special animated technique might attract the viewer, but it can also easily distract the viewer from the main information that the video is trying to deliver. How can be balance it so it attracts the viewer, but also delivers the information successfully?

Tufte-Visual Displays

In the visual display article, Tufte states that data graphics should focus on getting viewers’ attention on the data itself, but not other unrelated information. Tufte first mentioned data-ink. Data-ink is the core of data graphics, each ink represents the measurement of data. No ink can be eliminate, because they are all important. Tufte then mentioned “Maximizing the share of Data-ink”. He states that every ink on the data graphics are important. So when we add more data-ink into a graphic, it should deliver more information to the viewer. He then mention the two erasing principle, which is “Erase no-data-ink, within reason” and “Erase redundant data-ink, within reason”. First principle basically means that although data ink delivers information, sometimes the extra thickness and thick mesh are just not necessary. Second principle states that data ink might deliver redundant information to the viewer, which is not necessary. However, sometimes redundant data ink is useful because it helps viewer easier to compare various parts. At last, Tufte mentioned the principles in editing and redesign. Tufte gives several examples about this principle. They are mostly about by erasing or redesigning the original data, the way how a data delivers information can be changed.

Image below is a graph about digital information created each year. We can see in the graph that it includes a lot of necessary data-ink, this means that it delivers extra information to the viewer and let the viewer know more about other add-on information related to this topic. However, the blue area in the graph can be seen as redundant. The graph is already able to deliver proper information using the increasing line, showing the viewer that the amount of digital information is increasing rapidly in these years. Putting the blue area just restates that it’s increasing, but not giving extra information to the viewer. And also, the blue area covers up the gray lines behind it, which makes it hard for the viewer to match the exact increase amount.

engl419 blog data graphics

Question: In recent days, we see a lot of 3D data graphics. Since we are already able to understand the graphics using 2D drawing, are those extra 3D data-ink necessary?