Over my years of studying without even realising, data visualisation has been a crucial part of my learning and development. Before I came to understand the different ways in which a person can learn, I had already begun developing in the ‘visual’ style.
If a person is a visual learner, meaning – “they learn best through seeing things” (Fleming 2015) then a visual representation of data has the ability to inform a person through one, or a set of images a lot quicker than a table or a lecture with the same information would.
To increase the chances of this information resonating with a person, the author can use a number of visualisation techniques. In the example provided below, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, a multi-award winning artist, scientist and faculty associate at Harvard, developed a digital clock, run by internet statistics which, according to Lozano-Hemmer “shows the current time according to eccentric metrics: it uses hundreds of different reference systems.”
In simple terms, the clock uses information found on the internet and displays the results on the clocks face. This information can range from “the number of animal species that become extinct per day, or the daily average number of breaths that a typical human takes” (Lozano-Hemmer, R.). At exactly noon every day, the clock refreshes itself and returns back to zero, hence the name Zero Noon.
(Image source: Lozano-Hemmer, “Zero Noon”, 2013.)
The image above, shows that on this particular day, there had already been 117 related tobacco deaths in the US since refreshing at noon that day.
In my opinion, I think this design is a good representation of the use of both mathematic and time-series visualisation techniques. For example, displaying only the results collected over time rather than including the equation behind them, and also having it ‘animated’ by the clock face continuously changing demonstrates Reas’ et al. (2010, p 135) point that “by using time as the ordering principle, changes become clearer.”
Fleming, G. (2015) Learning Styles. Retrieved July 15, 2015 from http://homeworktips.about.com/od/homeworkhelp/a/learningstyle.htm
Lozano-Hemmer, R. (2013) Zero Noon. Retrieved July 16, 2015 from
Reas, Casey, McWilliams, Chandler, Barendse, Jeroen (2010). Form+Code in Design, Art and Architecture. Princeton Architectural Press.