Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Creative Visualisation

Lifting the lid on visualisation
The AHRC has launched a competition for 'designers, graphic artists, software developers, programmers and anyone with an interest in data visualisation' to design graphs and maps showing how grants from the UK’s seven research councils are distributed.

This follows the launch of the excellent Gateway to Research database, which holds information on all the projects that have been funded by the Research Councils.

Whilst, of course, both the database and the visualisation initiative are to be applauded, I can't help but feel that the AHRC is missing a trick here. After all, it is responsible for a huge range of disciplines, and it should be encouraging all, in every discipline (and of course, across-trans-inter-multi discplines) to visualise data in a way that is appropriate to them.

Fundermentals, as ever, is willing to wade in with some suggestions. All part of its public service remit, of course.

  • Performance Artists: nothing lends itself to visualisation as much as mime. The AHRC should be encouraged to make a very large grant to someone in a stripey shirt exploring an invisible box full of data.
  • Music: plenty of scope here for an opera. Or at least a Broadway musical? If they can make up something about rollerskating trains, then surely there's endless potential in the Repertorium of English Prose Sermons?
  • Philosophy: what is data? Why are we looking at it? Who are we anyway?
  • Theology and Religion: Visualising data as a religion. All should worship the data god. Atheists and agnostics will be shown pie charts and line graphs until they recant.
  • Archaeology: we already talk about data being 'buried', of having to 'dig' for it.All you need is to see the Gateway as some kind of triumphal arch which we need to painstakingly piece together with trowels and very, very small brushes. If you could work Indiana Jones in, that would be a bonus.
  • Creative Writing: Can't be too hard to visualise data as a novel. Probably a modernist, stream-of-consciousness thing that doesn't seem to make much sense, but everyone will say is tremendously clever for fear of seeming stupid.
I've only just scratched the surface. Whatever discipline you work in, I would encourage you to go along on the 24 January and heckle: 'This is all very well, but I think it's missing something. Have you thought about incorporating some action morphology? Perhaps with a side order of aesthetic ethnography?'

1 comment:

  1. Hi Phil

    Hope you are well. Just read your blog post and wanted to clarify that the ‘Visualising Research Workshop’ is being ran for all seven Research Council’s sponsored by: BBSRC and AHRC and delivered by British Library Science Team and Cottage Labs, see link below http://datasets.org.uk/compo/compo.html
    We wouldn’t want anyone to feel unwelcome.

    Mrs Danielle Moore-Chick Dip CIPR, MCIPR
    Communications Manager
    Tel: 01793 416021 Mob: 07825 609 382
    Arts and Humanities Research Council,
    Polaris House,
    North Star Avenue,
    SN2 1FL