Assignment 2: Data Visualization

What have I done?

The first task of this assignment was to make a visualization of time. This worked out pretty well and I was satisfied with the end result of my first Processing sketch. I did not follow the mandatory assignment “Creative Programming” so I practiced the basics of Processing in the summer holidays. The second lecture, given by a student, was an introduction of processing and was helpful for me to complete the time visualization. The second task was to make a first data visualization of a given data-set, which was way harder to complete. I managed to get some information out of the data but not to visualize it as I planned to do. I also red the first chapters of the book “Data Visualizations” by N. Iliinsky and J. Steele.

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What have I learned?

Within the time visualization task I learned the basics of making visuals in Processing, which was fun to do as you see immediate results of the little steps you take. The data visualization task was way harder as it consisted of many steps that needed to be understood in order to continue. It took me a lot of time to understand the data and to work with it. The first stage of the data visualization went well; doing the rough cuts in Excell, understanding the data, and changing the data with regular expressions in a text editor. The second part of parsing the data in Processing did not work out well. After many hours googling different methods I still not understood what I was doing, so I asked another student who helped me get the data into Processing. I did not manage to visualize the data as I planned to in Processing, so I made another visualization in Excell. This worked, but the program has no options for making changing visuals or interactive visualizations. The book learned me understanding different ways of communicating information and the manipulative factor of data visualizations. I was not able to use this knowledge in my visualization because I lacked technical experience in Processing.

Why does this contribute to my development?

I think this assignment teaches me two things about data. The first is basic understanding and reading data visualizations. This part is important for designers to stay critical on all information they absorb. Data can be very misleading, so a feeling for reading data is important for everybody who works with information and translating this into concepts. The second part is the technical aspect of making own data visualizations. This is important as it can be a very effective tool to underpin your ideas with the proof of data.

Next steps

A next step within this assignment is to collect my own data for challenge 2. I want to connect my project with this task to have a persuasive goal and a clear focus of end result, instead of working the data and see what comes out. Further I want to finish the book “Data Visualizations” to have a better understanding of the purpose and psychological part of data visualizations. When my planning works out and I have time, I want to make a third visualization of Challenge 1 to practice data parsing in Processing.