Double Barton Roadmap

Well Barton and Barton that surely was a read. One thing I want to make note for from this article is they cite themselves as a source, which I have personally never seen before and wonder if this a viable technique. Anyhow, in their article Barton and Barton investigate the rhetoric and ideology behind the use and creation of maps. Maps are supposedly used by a ruling group to obtain dominance among the lesser people in the society. They do this by following the Rules of Inclusion and Exclusion. These are basically what their names suggest. Inclusion refers to what is included in a map and why while exclusion explores the opposite. Inclusion involves what “phenomena” are included on the map and also the strategies used to represent them. It determines placement on the map as well as how the map will be ordered. Exclusion refers to things that are left out or repressed when creating a map. There are two types of exclusion, explicit and implicit. Barton and Barton then completely lose me when they start explaining “Other” and “otherness.” They also go on to later contradict themselves as saying maps are a sort of collage only to later say that this does not do maps justice as to what they are.

I was not particularly sure what to use as an example seeing as Barton and Barton confused me as the article continued on. As a result, pictured here is a map of Purdue’s campus (north of State Street). As we can see this exemplifies the understanding that a map is a collage by combining words, images, and a legend explaining the various elements on the map. One may infer that the rules of inclusion and exclusion are also present as buildings, fields, and roads are included while pinpointing, say, artwork is left off of the map.

Question: What are key elements that might be excluded from a map?


Celebrex and Dombrowski

In his article Dombrowski evaluate the unethical nature of a 2005 Celebrex commercial. Due to the way the commercial presents its information it take a legitimate commercial and creates a situation that is possibly harmful. The Celebrex commercial uses available technology to disguise information that must be included to form a “fine print” that is virtually impossible to decipher. This does not detract from the fact that Pfizer did indeed include the information that they were required to but did so in a manner that is unethical and effectively harmful to viewers. The commercial disguises the harmful nature of its product behind calming colors and happy images that would ease the minds of most viewers about any concerns they would have with using the product. He further explains that the included text is made useless due to the overwhelming amount of visuals and tiny size of the text. The commercial is also unethical because it fails to mention that in some cases the benefits would be overshadowed by the increase of risks within certain consumers. This is shady business practices that could lead to more sales, but for a reason that the necessary risk information was not conveyed properly to the viewers of the commercial


Pictured here is an ad for the Vibram FiveFingers shoe that many people began to use after seeing this type of ad prompting increased foot health. The Celebrex case that Dombrowski talk over in his article reminded me of this as Vibram was sued for false advertising by using bogus claims that were unsupported. Their shoes in fact do not strengthen foot muscles or help in decreasing injury. In fact, some studies have reported the shoes do the opposite. It is a case of misleading the viewers in a for the purpose of increasing profits and neglecting to tell the whole truth or even mention the risks.

Question: How can a product that has potentially harmful side effects advertise in a way that is ethical? Is totally removing fine print a necessary step or can it be left in and explained?

In this article, Manning and Amare discuss the ethics of visual rhetoric focusing on the difference between three visual strategies and where to use them. The first is decorative visuals, such as typefaces, serves the purpose of evoking feelings. One problem with decorative arises when the creator over decorates a presentation that ends up distracting from the message the author was attempting to convey. Instead the creator focuses on making the visuals look appealing rather than the original goal. The second strategy is the indicatives such as bulleted lists which are used to promote action. Manning and Amare state that PowerPoint presentations are repeat offenders in misusing indicative visuals. They tend to fill the screen with bulleted points and make slides filled with text that the audience will more than like not want to or have time to read. Creators of PP presentations will sometimes animate or add sound to the bullets as well, which distract the viewers from the information they are trying to communicate. The final visual goal covered by Manning and Amare is the informative. These are graphs and charts used to promote understanding in the reader. Informative visuals are different in they can be judged as being true for false. They display data which can be examined and are easily unethical with the display of inaccurate information. Each of these types of display are used in different areas of communication.

Pictured here is a visual display of Manning and Amare’s three type of visual display. The first is purely for aesthetics and appears as though it will serve no purpose otherwise. The arrows on the second image are a representation of indicative in they are leading the viewer to a certain action. The graphic would be a way to lead viewers to other areas. The final one marked as three is a representation of informative. It is a complex Venn diagram that would be used to compare different topics. The comparisons could then be judged true or false as Manning and Amare have stated is one of the possibilities for informative visuals.

Question: In the section on improving visuals PowerPoint is marketed as combating boring data visuals which Manning and Amare disagree in PP’s effectiveness. How can we make data displays interesting (not boring) while not distracting from the actual information? Would combine the three type of displays help?

Response to Dragga, Voss, Zer-Aviv

Dragga and Voss and Zer-Aviv each take a look into the emotionless and lack of empathy in data visualizations. Both articles focus on how data often lacks the horror behind what the information is displaying. As they put it, it lacks human element. It is a mindless display often focusing on historical methods described by people such as Tufte and Kostelnick. Zer-Aviv defines empthay as a person’s capacity to feel for another’s experiences, a component that data visualization is often lacking. Dragga and Voss bring in a multitude of examples each lacking some humanistic component. One example they take special note of is Napoleon’s campaign map which gives number of troops at various points in his war path to Moscow. They claim that this is unethical because it takes away from the suffering that was experienced by those thousands as they were slowly dying. They also state how the reader may be confused and not understand the numbers represent dying (or AWOL) people and the numbers represent bullet counts instead. Without a visual component, Dragga and Voss believe that people will simply forget the purpose of the data.

I do not agree with either of these articles. I feel the purpose of data is to convey information. Adding a “humanistic” component, to me, seems unnecessary. Dragga and Voss use and example of identical pie charts for lumberjacks displaying employment rates and the other fatalities. By their understanding this graphical representation is ineffective in conveying that lumberjacking is high risk because nowhere does it show the flesh and blood. To me this makes no sense. This would accurately depict the rates of employment compared in a non-biased light with fatalities in the industry. The arguments that Dragga, Voss, and Zer-Aviv make do not highlight the purpose of data, which is to convey information. If this information used for persuasive purposes then I can understand how it has merit. However, they make no inclination that this is the case and are merely trying to add empathy were empathy is unneeded. I believe that feeling empathy for the data should be left up to the reader. If the viewer chooses to visualize the “flesh and blood” that Dragga and Voss reference, that is the reader’s choice. Forcing someone who is simply looking for facts to empathize with the situation seems unnecessary.

This is a graph showing firearm death rates in the state of Florida. The highlight of the graphic is the passing of the “Stand Your Ground” law. According to the aforementioned authors this data lacks empathy and feelings for those who lost their lives to be a statistic. Now I am not saying that we should not empathize with the people who lost family members or friends, but I am saying that it does not need to be in data. News programs and articles do enough of invoking an empathic response. When doing research on a topic a person does not need to feel bad for researching a topic that is filled with response invoking imagery. Sometimes it is just better to get the cold, hard facts.

Question: Perhaps I am being harsh in my belief that data should force empathy on the reader. What is the reason a person would want to distract from the purpose of data (to convey information) to invoke empathy?

Kostelnick is clear enough

The idea of clarity in terms of data displays is a vague idea. Kostelnick explores this conundrum in his article on visual rhetoric. In the first part he focuses his attention on the comprehension of data and how it can differ amongst various viewers. Kostelnick first explores the rhetoric of science where he explains how to optimally display information. He states that adding extra components such as colors and 3D effects the graphical elements lose some ethos. This is due to some elements of the data becoming lost as a result of the extra flare. To diminish these practices would be a way to protect the reader from designer malpractice. Kostelnick states that visual displays should allow for the most efficient absorption of data.

To counter his argument on ethos, Kostelnick explores rhetorical adaptation. What is clear to one audience may not be clear to another. If a paper is published for chemists the charts my not makes sense to the public, but to a chemist it makes perfect sense. This is also true across different cultures, where more details may be expected. Another issue that Kostelnick observes is data is often overlooked due to the graphics being uninteresting or dull. This is a counter point to his and Tufte’s explanation on just including relevant facts and leaving the fluff out. To determine if extra visual elements need to be added the purpose of the graphic needs to be determined. A graphic in a scientific paper may need to include just the facts, but a graphic made for the web in a fun topic like dog breeds may need more design on the charts. Kostelnick also explores the nature and nurture of visual elements stating no one is born being able to read graphs, it is something that is taught. This plays an effect on how we display information as it will most likely change with time.

Pictured here is a chart that would be consider unclear in just about any situation. The lines are overlapping and there is little semblance of flow to the graphic. The colors are distracting, even if they add some information in comparing components of the chart. At the same time, some of the lines of the same colors are related, such as the pink, while others, like the orange, are completely unrelated.

Question: In reference to my image- How can clarity be added to this graphic? Would it be easier to start over or can this be salvaged? Why or Why not?

Tufte Response 2

In Tufte’s article he uses explains of dot maps and Challenger diagrams to support his claim that “there are right ways and wrong ways to show data.” On a whole I feel this article is filled with too many examples and not enough explanation. Another issue I had with Tufte’s article is that the included graphics do not have labeling and are thus, difficult at times to determine which chart he is explaining. This was particularly a problem in the Challenger section when the charts actually made little sense to mean even have I connected his statement because so of them have jargon that I am not familiar with.

One point that Tufte repeats in both section, the dot maps and Challenger, is what are these charts being compared with? He states that conclusions can be drawn from this sort of data but will it be correct or will the person viewing the data draw a different, equally likely possibility from it. This is demonstrated in the O-ring in a clamp and cold glass experiment. While the one who did the experiment determined that the cold water lowered the rubber’s resilience he did not take into account other factors including how tight the clamp was, nor did he do a control experiment. Some points that Tufte makes to improve visual explanations is to eliminate chartjunk and makes sure that the viewer is focused on the data. In relation to the glass experiment mentioned earlier, be sure that there is clarity in presenting cause and effect. Tufte also explains that data should be in the correct order as to not make the viewer need to jump around the presentation to connect the facts, or to connect the wrong facts.

Pictured here is a way to poorly present the information attempting to be conveyed. The two graphs show the same information. The one on the left is an example of the chartjunk that Tufte makes reference of. The data is presented in a, while creative, confusing way. The artist of the graphic was attempting to relate the imagery back to the information and in the process made the data difficult to use for comparative purposes. While the second graphic is dull in comparison, it is doing the important job of not distracting the viewer from what is important, the data.

Question: When, if ever, is it a good time to add extra visuals to the data? Is there ever a point where the extra visuals would not be considered chartjunk?