Project 2: Quantitative Issues: Dimensionality, Comparison, Numbers, Scale

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Prompt

Using information (data) that you collect from a data source, create an original information graphic and accompanying story that displays the best practices discussed in Chapter 3 ("Quantitative Issues: Dimensionality, Comparison, Numbers, Scale") of Designing Information. You will also need to provide the primary data (e.g., in a table, screenshot, or other simple form) that you used to build your information graphic. Your (one page/screen) information graphic should demonstrate that you've learned the lessons from Chapter 2 on display/design and that you've understood the pertinent concepts in Chapter 3 on the following:

  • information overload
  • representation of numbers
  • dimensional comparison
  • the relation of size/volume to numbers and percentages
  • substitution
  • numerical integrity
  • meaningful numbers
  • geography
  • per capita
  • data and form
  • data scale consistency
  • ratios of change
  • multiple axiality
  • measurement and proportion

Discussion of the Prompt

Your information graphic should be tightly focused on the representation of one particular data set (don't try to represent too much, in other words), with some type of comparison or change over time being the key tropes (a trope is a relational principle). Begin by formulating a question or hypothesis about some fact(s) that you've been curious about or that you think people would want to know or be surprised to learn about. Then research to find the relevant data and choose a form that would best convey the information to a reader. You'll then need to decide whether a graph (chart), timeline, data map, pyramid, or other visual display would best convey the data. It would be helpful to emulate a form (example) shown in Designing Information.

Your information graphic should be supported by a one-page (250-word) text that explains the data, written like a news article or magazine feature addressed to interested readers. (You could imagine, for example, that your information graphic was being published in Wired magazine.)

Data Sources

The reliability and comprehensiveness of data sources is critical, so for this project, limit your data sources to the following:

Deliverables

  1. Selection and short discussion of your question and data source. In a blog post, describe the focus of your project (what kind of data and about what), your reason for choosing it, and the specfic data (via a link) that you plan to use. Tag your post project 2. Due Tuesday, March 5. You'll have some time in class to discuss your topic with others and, if needed, to change your mind and repost a refined topic.
  2. Explanation of the form(s) of your information graphic. In a blog post, describe the form your information graphic will take (how you will represent your data visually). Tag your post project 2. Due Tuesday, March 26.
  3. Draft for peer review. Your initial draft draft should include all elements of your information graphic except for your 250-word story and should include the visuals, captions, legends, or other information that will help readers understand the information. Post your draft to a blog post as a PDF file; tag your post project 2 and project 2 draft. Due, Tuesday, April 2.
  4. Polished draft. Your polished draft should include your information graphic, your related story, and the data you used to create the information graphic, in the form of a single PDF file, submitted to the class Dropbox folder, Project 2 subfolder. Due Thursday, April 4 by the end of the day.

Format and Presentation of Project 2

The format and presentation of Project 2 will be an important consideration in its overall quality and evaluation, which means that you should take care to use a layout and design that best represents the data and conveys the information clearly and elegantly. Use the elements of qualitative design (lines, shape, form, color, labeling, connections, notation, time, point of view, navigation) to present the information in a readable and persuasive format. Your images should be high quality, and your choice of typography well suited to the context, consistent, and purposeful. I recommend using Adobe InDesign (and other tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, Excel, MS Word's drawing tools, or Google SketchUp; see http://www.sketchup.com/) to make the composition effective.

Grading Criteria

You must complete all four deliverables to earn credit for Project 2. Deliverable 4, your polished draft, will be evaluated based on the quality, design, and information represented in your graphical design; your accompanying story; the relation of graphical content to the data represented; the integrity of your data; and your effective use of the strategies for conveying quantitative information discussed in the course readings. Deliverable 4 must include all three parts: graphic, story, data source.

Revisions

After you receive feedback on your polished draft, you may elect to revise and resubmit. If you choose to revise, you'll be required to include detailed submission notes with your revision. Submission notes should explain the significant revisions you've made to improve the project. All revisions should do more than make corrections and may involve reconceptualizing the approach or possibly choosing a new example for analysis. Revisions will be due one week after originally returned to you.