Information can either be a welcome component into our daily “walkflow,” or something of a trespasser. When walking down into a subway station, or approaching any other large-scale transit system, a map and other forms of wayfinding are always welcome. The ads along the station walls may be also be a pleasant part of the journey, even as we recognize most ads are a form of information trespass. As the principal purpose of information design is to convey data that we (the targeted users) wish to take in, it’s mostly a welcome scenario. Even within this simple framework of the ostensibly welcome info-environment there are some sub-classes,examples of which are touched upon within the three articles that form the collection of this PJIM issue.
An idea for describing types of information delivery can be suggestedthrough the simple mnemonic of, “walls, halls, and stalls.” The walls are the backdrop, or the infrastructure of information that makes up the basic spaces that we physically and intellectually travel through. Our first article, dealing with cultural analytics address the idea of “walls.” When we interact with data we also interact with whatever branding supports the touchpoint. So, when we access an app through an icon we agree (by default) to give credence to the signifier. These icons have specific and cultural character meaning—cultural analytics allow us to understand the composition of our walls. At the next level we travel through halls—en route to some intended place. Now information graphics can be hung on the halls. The qualities of design and content integration are imperative steps of accessibility and effectiveness. The design is generally modular and highly logical.
Our second article discusses the making of such infographics, in this case for disaster preparedness—information welcome as potential uses walk down their walls of life. Stalls are our end-destination, specific places where we want to interact, engage, and spend time. Our last article deals with games that are both tactile (traditional board games) and digitally interactive. Each game has a unique personality, the nature of how it is played. There can be an abundance of variance and difficulty to the play; however, the user wants to be there. They will invest in the game-play requirements because this is where they have cognitively headed. By considering the images supplied with the three articles it’s interesting to see how the design and content refer to the walls, halls, and stalls of our daily walk with information.
Jihoon Kang, Publisher, and William Bevington, Editor-in-Chief
Parsons Journal for Information Mapping
by Evangelos Kapros, PhD & Kerri McCrory, PhD
by Saskia van Manen, PhD & Jihoon Kang, MFA
by Jason Corace, MFA
Cultural analytics, data visualization, educational technology, icons mobile apps, media analysis, software studies
While cultural analytics has become a well-established visualization method for big image and video data, the domains in which it has been used have focused on traditional media. Magazine covers, photography, manga, and video frames have been the main domains of exploration so far. In this paper, we propose cultural analytics as a means to analyze icons from software applications—these are not traditionally analyzed as media artifacts; however, new and interesting results may occur from treating them as traditional media. The aim is to better understand an application domain by analyzing the icons of its software applications.
As a case study, we visualized and analyzed the icons of 158,200 educational apps that were uploaded to Apple’s App Store from July 2008 to November 2014. The contribution of this project is twofold. Firstly, we demonstrate how analysing the software icons of an application domain (in our case, education) can help researchers gain insights into the domain. Secondly, within cultural analytics we developed a visualization technique (“time-freeze” timeline) that helps follow a trail of an app’s icon through its updates. We anticipate the “time-freeze” timeline visualization to be useful for cultural analytics at large, as a way to present imagery that is updated, and not specifically for visualizing icons.
Evangelos Kapros is working on educational technology as the User Experience Lead in Learnovate Centre and as a researcher at the Knowledge and Data Engineering Group in Trinity College, the University of Dublin.
Kerri McCrory is working on educational technology as a Technology Lead in Learnovate Centre and as a researcher at the Knowledge and Data Engineering Group in Trinity College, the University of Dublin.
Communication, design, functional scientific literacy, information mapping, natural hazards, science
As disasters are primarily experienced at local levels, improving communication with the public is critical component of comprehensive disaster preparedness strategies. Despite the available information regarding natural hazards and disaster preparedness, studies show that people are generally unprepared and do not feel informed. This highlights the urgent general requirement for enhanced scientific communication and increased public scientific literacy, specifically in high-risk environments.
This project presents an infographic that visually conveys the epistemology of science to the general public, facilitates discussion and empower local communities’ engagement during stakeholder meetings. The collaborative nature of science and its unknowns and uncertainties are also considered. Through contributing to functional scientific literacy goals, the infographic indirectly tries to address communities’ empowerment and ability to articulate problems—two important predictors of trust—which in turn influences the development of the intention to prepare for a disaster.
Representations that combine text and illustration allow the public to process and understand complex concepts and information more effectively, efficiently, and accurately. Furthermore, for the presentation of these concepts, careful attention has been paid to design factors such as the use of color, typography, composition, iconography, and more to optimize readers’ comprehension and engagement.
Saskia van Manen’s core interest is deploying design as a strategy to mitigate the effects of natural hazards through disaster risk management. She is currently based at the Netherlands Red Cross as Advisor Innovation and Community Resilience. She is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Open University (UK) and a Visiting Fellow at the Parsons Institute for Information Mapping (USA). She holds a PhD in Volcanology from the Open University (UK), a MA in Product Design and Innovation from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UK) and a M.Sci. in Geophysics from Imperial College London (UK).
Jihoon Kang is a communication designer and illustrator. He currently serves as Associate Director at the Parsons Institute for Information Mapping (PIIM), The New School, New York. His background experience includes creative and program leadership, project management, information design, Graphical User Interface (GUI) Design, and User Experience Design (UXD). At PIIM, he has worked on projects from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), US Navy, United Nations Development Programme, and Macmillan Publishers. He has taught design courses at Parsons School of Design. He also serves as a guest lecturer at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. He received BFA and MFA from Parsons School of Design.
Games, hybrid, Operation, play, visualization,
Within games we are seeing two interesting trends: a renewed interest in virtual reality and a continued rebirth of tabletop games. In some ways these trends represent diametrically opposed play styles and demonstrate some of the challenges with visualizing information within game systems.
While virtual reality represents the continued extension of the body into the world a video game creates, it comes at the cost of isolating players from their actual surroundings and the richness of live social interactions. At the same time, virtual reality games are a natural evolution of the computer’s ability to facilitate visual complexity and variability in rules.
Conversely, traditional tabletop games are inherently social but limited in visual and systematic complexity due to the impatience of players, laws of physics and production costs. Still we have seen huge growth in the tabletop game market over the last ten years with more complex European games becoming well known and game nights becoming popular social events.
There is a long history of game design that attempts to fuse the tactile and social nature of tabletop games with the affordances of technology into a unified play experience. These analog and electronic designs are often called hybrid games.
I recently had the opportunity to be a research fellow at the National Museum of Play where I began creating an online history of hybrid games. This paper will discuss visualization strategies found in that history that I believe are useful for designers who want to create social tactile experiences.
Jason Corace is a game designer and educator whose work focuses on the exploration of games and new media art. He holds an MFA in Design Technology from the Parsons School of Design and is currently a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art