visualization | MIT Center for Civic Media

Visualization tools offer new ways to inform and improve understanding. Showing data in relation to geography, the passage of time, and other contexts helps individuals and communities to prioritize and weigh the meaning of facts. Visualization can refer to mapping, locative media, visual data, or many other ways of showing data graphically.

Trip Report: Connecting with Belo Horizonte, Brazil

I just returned from a fascinating week in Belo Horizonte (Brazil)!  The trip was organized by the Office of Strategic Priorities (@escritorio_gov) of the State of Minas Gerais (they are members of the MIT Media Lab).  The Escritorio joined the Media Lab to think harder about fostering innovation and empowering their citizens.  Following those themes, we worked together and planned an agenda that focused on four main activities:

Quantity & Quality of Our Parks in Somerville & Cambridge

The following is a guest post by Namasha Shelling, who works as a Project Coordinator at the Harvard School of Public Health.  Namasha and I have collaborated to build on The Public Land Trust's (TPL) metrics around parks and communities. TPL published their methodology and results openly, and this post is built on that valuable contribution they have made!

Park Quality: Why we should care, not only about the quantity of parks, but QUALITY of parks in our neighborhoods

According to the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a non-profit that works on land conservation in the US, parks are known to reduce crime, revitalize local economies, increase physical activity, and in turn bring communities together. How many times have we heard this sort of phrase before? Not that it isn’t true… but it doesn’t matter how many parks your neighborhood has, if people don’t want to use the parks. 

Controversy Mapper

Project Status: 
Active

How does a media controversy become the only thing any of us talk about? Using the Media Cloud platform, we're reverse-engineering major news stories to visualize how ideas spread and media frames change over time, and whose voices dominate a discussion.

VizThink Overview

I do these live drawings while people are speaking in order to demonstrate their ideas. Orginally mentored by James Carlson, I started doing visual thinking in earnest when someone turned left in front of me, causing a shattered radius. Since, it's become my primary method of note taking, and a wonderful way to augment written notes.

Different Things to Show

Charts!

James Rojas at Codesign Studio

James Rojas gave a guest spot at the Codesign Studio a couple weeks back. The full entry is here, but I'm particularly pleased with the vizthink that came out of it:

What We Watch

Project Status: 
Active

A new tool for watching how popular videos spread online.

Mural-ing Our Way to Data Literacy

Last Tuesday Groundwork Somerville officially dedicated their South Street Farm and with it, the exciting new data mural that the Green Team has worked so hard to finish painting.

Activities for Building Visual Literacy

There are a lot of people talking about "Visual Literacy" right now. Shazna Nessa shared some thoughts from a journalistic point of view on the Mozilla Source blog recently. Her discussion focused on how data visualizers should consider the limitations and affordances of visual depictions of information. I'd like to offer a complementary response from a constructionist's point of view. Certainly the journalists and new explainers need to understand how to best use the tools at hand, but in addition we can help the "audience" build visual literacy by helping them create their own visual presentations of their information. The creative act of telling an information-based story offers everyone the best way to understand the affordances of various visualization tools, in addition to making them more aware consumers of this new "visual grammar". So how do you do this? What kind of fun activities can we do with people help them work with and present information?

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