MAS 963 · Designing Sociable Media
Instructor: Judith Donath

09.17 · abstract representations (guest lecturer: Fernanda Viegas)

1. reading assignment  

Basic visualization principles

A couple of abstract visualizations

Please do the readings above. The excerpts from Colin Ware's book are a very cool intro to some of the basic perception elements of human vision that you should be aware of when creating visualizations. 
The visualization papers should get you started thinking about some of the rationale behind abstract visualizations and how people make design decisions in different visualization scenarios.


2. visualization assignment  

We are embodied time, and so are our societies, made up of history. 
Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society.

Much of our experience of the world has to do with the passage of time and the changes that occur as time goes by. We get older, we accumulate things, objects that we use start showing marks of wear and tear, our favorite photos start to turn yellow. These signs of time and of usage help guide us; we know new things from old things just by looking at them, we can tell a heavily-used object from one that hardly gets touched almost immediately.

In the virtual world, however, these cues are lost. Everything on a computer, no matter how old, looks brand new; things always look pristine.

For this assignment, please think about how you could visualize different individuals (or the relationships) as they interact with you over time in online environments. For instance, think about when you are introduced to a person via email. You probably don't know much about them at first. As time goes by and the two of you exchange lots of messages, how does your understanding of who this person is change? How does your relationship to that person change? Does your impression of this individual evolve based on the history of interactions that you have together? Does this history include only the two of you or is it grounded on some other context such as the place where you work, a group of common friends, some hobby that both of you share?

Please base your visualization sketches on the readings you've done on the "basic visualization principles". Be prepared to discuss your visualization sketches with the rest of the class and to critique each other. 

Please submit the URL of your critique and sketch online by Monday evening (sept 15).