|TR 11:00-12:15||Insight Lab / Shure Studio||Eric Field [firstname.lastname@example.org]|
In September 1854, London experienced a severe epidemic of cholera. By creating graphics that mapped the information available in a clear and spatial manner, Dr. John Snow was able to identify the cause and stop the disease.1
In January 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded during launch due to a failure of O-rings under low temperature. Had the data - which was available - simply been presented differently, the launch may arguably not have occured, saving the craft and crew.1
This is a class about information visualization.
We live in a world rich with information. This course concentrates on the identity and role of information in our environs: in language, in the buildings and cities that we inhabit, in our expanding communications networks, and in the tools and technologies we create to help us navigate, understand, and collaborate on the problems that we face.
Science and technology, including the building sciences, environmental sciences, and political sciences, make a ton of information available to us. We can model, map, and simulate almost anything, and produce multitudes of data.
But most of us don't understand data. We need to see it. We need to visualize it - contextualize it, draw its relationships, and envision the scenarios surrounding it - to make effective decisions. Too often, though data is available, we don't use it or misuse it, because it lacks context and meaning to understand. We understand better if we make it visual.
This class is about using information to construct visual and spatial thinking - to find, indeed invent, approaches toward seeing, envisioning, and understanding - to make better informed decisions about the problems of our world. To do this we will study - and make - useful, compelling and beautiful information visualizations.
With a dual focus on craft and content, this course will look both practically and theoretically at how we build information, why, and how we use and populate it in our world. We will study language, graphics, and urban form as dialects of `Information Space`, while we work with paper-based and interactive web-based graphical information tools as a technical vehicle to build new architectures and interfaces that use, visualize, and analyze information well.
Our case study and research focus for this semester will be visualizing problems of energy, through the lens of natural, economic, cultural, and human behavioral pressures. We will develop tools and visualizations to help people better understand global and local challenges, and how to potentially change impacts.
1 Edward Tufte, Visual Explanations