Sep.29.2008 _ Quality VS Quantity

“House of cards”

The latest music video from Radiohead. “House of cards” , a music video created entirely through the use of data visualization. The video comes from a very experimental approach, with a super digital scientific graphic style. Moreover, it’s open source, anybody can download the data and the processing source code from google, and come up with their own version of ” House of cards.”  GO RADIOHEAD!

Visualizing data, information graphics. It’s interesting to see how much potential this type of design has. When you see it from a business angle, it’s more than just pie charts and bar charts, it’s a tool that could be used in marketing analysis and many other aspects within the business world. When you look at it from a scientific angle, it’s all about mapping it out, finding the links to everything. From a entertainment perspective, you than get those super cool music visualizations that doesn’t mean a thing at all, but it’s aesthetically beautiful, stunning, and to most of the people that’s probably just enough.

In the end, the question really is, what do you want to do with it. It seems like any kind of design always comes back to this core question, which is what do you want to do. Yet surprisingly, this is probably also the toughest question one could answer.

Setting up a thesis research based on information graphics and data visualization. I find it to be interesting if I could bring this project to a qualitative level where the results are not just a form transformation from digits to circles and squares. Which ones are the most frequently used, which ones are the most linked. Both information graphics and data visualization seems to inherit the sense of quantitative value in it’s nature. However, I think the questions is, how can we achieve to depict qualitative values from our data sets through a quantitative approach?

NY times has long been one of the loyal followers of information graphics and data visualizations. On one hand, it’s generic and simple style of it’s design makes it easy to understand. On the other hand, the interaction design helps it form a relationship between the user and the data sets. Everything seems to look good, but at the same time, everything seems to look the same. Not just graphically, but also conceptually. Much of it’s visualizations are based on the quantity value of it’s data sets, and the outcome ends up being just another quantitative comparison resulted in a larger scale.

What about the qualitative values? For the Olympic medal count history as an example, what really is interesting about that design is when you see in one year the Soviet Union has a high medal count, but then four years later, after it’s political collapse. Many small countries suddenly appeared on to the stage, and decreased the medal count of Russia ( precedent of USSR). The quantitative value are the medal counts, but what’s more interesting is the stories behind this quantitative value, which would be the historic events.

The qualitative value.


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