Various types of Visualization methods

Remember the good ‘ole days of sitting in your third grade classroom and drawing bar graphs and pie chart? The information that we were recording were fun things such as the number of boys versus girls in the class or the various hair colors. Since then, the amount of information we have learned to work with and analyze has expanded exponentially. We literally have a world of information available with a simple Google search. But with all this wild and crazy information that we are so fortunate to look at, a problem arises when there is simply too much. Who wants to sift through pages and pages of surveys to find relationships when you could simply graph them. Maybe a pie chart or a bar graph will be sufficient enough. What if I was to tell you that there are hundreds and thousands of various graphing models available, each specializing in certain fields?

First thing’s first, why do we like to graph information? Research has shown that humans are more keen to identify patterns and relationships visually through color, shape and style, to name a few. This is why graphs play such an important function of data analysis. Unfortunately, not all graphing techniques are ideal for every field of study. While a pie chart and bar graph work great for finding relationships between the population of Albany, a stem-and-leaf plot might not be a good choice. Jeffrey Heer, Michael Bostock, and Vadim Ogievetsky of Stanford University conveniently compiled a list of the more interesting and complex graphing styles. I won’t explore each graph but will instead discuss the few we are all familiar with and a couple of the wild ones.

let us first look at the stock market! We can all recognize that iconic rising and plunging chart that displays the growth and decline of various stocks. This particular chart allows the user to scroll through time and watch how various stocks saw immense growth or loss periods. For example we can see that Apple, in a single month, from June to July in 2006 had a loss factor of over one hundred percent. Protovis is one such program that allows a user to create an interactive, “live”, graph. Unfortunately, it is no longer in development as of 2011, shortly after this article was written.

Out of all the various types of graphs and charts, maps are probably what most of us feel the most comfortable with. If you have ever watched your local six o’clock news you probably have seen Choropleth Maps. These are useful to display the various temperatures across a country using light and dark colors. In this particular map we can look at the obesity rates in the United States. Flow Maps are useful in visualizing a number of important statistics on a map. In this case we are looking at Napoleon’s march on Moscow in 1812. Not only can a large visual be created to overlap the map to depict the route used to travel, but also troop sizes, temperatures, latitudes and longitudes and recurring lesson of never to invade Russia during the winter.

I would like to pose the following questions for us to consider:

1.) Which type of visualization represented in this article, or others not mentioned, do you feel is ideal for historians?

2.) How can we effectively use any of the visualizations mentioned to expand our Walking Tour projects?

3.) As a follow-up question to the previous one: Thinking of our intended audience, how would one particular graph be clearer than another?

HW: Digital History project reviews (due 2/9)

For Tuesday’s homework, choose two of the projects below and explore (I recommend one from 1-5 and one from 6-10).  You don’t need to try to see every single page or item in the project, but click around enough to get a sense of what the project is about.

  1. UAlbany Campus Buildings Historical Tour
  2. The Normal School Company & Normal School Company History
  3. State Street Stories
  4. Black and Free
  5. Valley of the Shadow
  6. Arabella Chapman Project
  7. Mapping Segregation
  8. Digital Harlem
  9. The Negro Traveler’s Green Book
  10. Visualizing Emancipation

In your comment below, discuss:

  • Who is the audience for each of your two projects?  How can you tell?  Is the audience more specific than “people interested in history” or “people interested in African American history”?
  • What kind of interactivity is there?  Think back to our discussion and reading about social media.  How do you as the visitor interact with the project besides just reading it?  Do your two projects differ in the kind of interactivity they allow?
  • Did you have any frustrations in navigating or trying to interact with the project?  If you came across the project outside of a class, how would your frustrations have affected the amount of time you spent on that website?
  • Reply to another student who discussed one of the same projects you selected, and discuss any similarities or differences you experienced with the project’s interactivity or your frustrations with it.

Opening Our Eyes to a New Online Accessible World

Three readings and one video were to be read today, I’m here to discuss them all so that as a class we can better understand what’s going on. Starting with the video, “Is Google Knowledge”, that can be located at Youtube, Hank Green goes on a tirade about whether or not Google is considered “knowledge”. The argument is if we as individuals use Google as a search engine to get information does the process of us having to do this count still as still having gained knowledge. Basically are we cheating ourselves by googling anything we wonder about. Does it make us stupid and/or lazy by having this information at our fingertips?

In comparison Professor Melissa Terras’ piece, Reuse of Digitised Content, discusses the multiple changes she’d like to see in regard with creative reuse of digitised cultural heritage content. A bit of backstory on the content she’s referring to, it is in reference to works such as paintings, sculptures, photographs, etc that galleries, libraries, archives and museums are making public online for individuals such as you and I to access. Terra herself applauds this action on the basis that this access has allowed individuals to create pretty neat things with the works they are seeing such as fabrics, corsets and notebook covers to name a few things. The issue she sees with this unlimited access though is that there are poor search engines, too few works with copyrights, not enough information on how to get copyrights and poor image quality.

The next reading after, by, Dr. Ernesto Priego called, “Some Tips for Beginners”, discusses a multitude of definitions that one should know if interested in blogging (or interested in being relevant with youth today). In addition, Priego uses the published blog of Ryan Cordell to give helpful tips on how one could have a successful blog/ blog post if interested. Examples of this come from all the information that was gathered by him in regards to having a catchy byline/authorship, permalink, Bio/About Me page and categories.

The last reading titled,“Putting big Data to Good Use”, by authors S. Graham, I. Milligan and S. Weingart, examines the positive outcomes that occur when published works get transferred and become accessible online. The example the authors use is the Old Bailey, which covers over 197,000 trials in Britain. The scholars that were tasked with this not only brought Old Bailey online but assisted in creating formats that would help anyone who was looking over it to be able to research specific cases easier by having for example, key words and suggested trails. Authors Graham, milligram and Weingart also discuss the lack of historians being apart of this digitizing process. Though few have slowly made strides to become more involved there is still a scarcity of methods being taught in regards to how to accomplish such as feat as digitizing old works in the historian field itself.

From the three readings that were mentioned connections can be made between them. The first connection that I saw was that all three were written in a type of blog format. There were even instances in which an author would ramble on and catch themselves in the act. They’d let a reader know that whatever was said may have been a rant with no coherent meaning. In regards to content itself all the readings discuss the manner in which accessibility to the online world whether it be through the reuse of digitized content, an online blog or the transferring of online data, has been helpful. Helpful in manners that they themselves did not see possible up until the point they began to appreciate it through the research of a topic of interest to themselves. Being able to have access to the internet is key to one expanding their knowledge and these readings are proof of the wonders that the internet holds. What could have possibly not been imagined decades ago it seems as though online accessibility has reached the farthest corners and will continue to do so.



Is there anything you know of that you have not been able to find accessible online and would like to see accessible?

Do you feel as though as students we have not taken as much advantage as we should be being able to have access online through most all of our smart devices? And why?

Having gained knowledge about certain topics we may or may not have known about before, how do you see yourself spreading awareness about them? Or do you think these authors wrote what they wrote with no real intent on widening the consciousness about the reuse of digitized content, online blogging or the transferring of online data?