Week 7 – Making The Invisible Visible

This week I will be talking about ‘making the invisible visible’, in particular, the process of visualization. Visualisation enables us to understand how archives are used to create forms of content and expression, whilst also impacting how we interpret the excessive amounts of information society produces. Visualisation has impacted many arguments through the use of information graphics, which are able to visually represent data and help individuals better understand information and how it can be utilised in everyday life.

Visualisation’s purpose is to help discover the unknown and make the invisible visible. Visualisation allows the use of images to structure new meaning and relationships between information sources, often leading to the discovery of patterns within these sets of data. These patterns can either be portrayed through aesthetic means, which often attempt to portray experiences, or through methodology, which can show how patterns are organised. Often aesthetics can give a biased approach towards data, but this type of visual organisation always attempts to make a point or discover something obscure. Visualisation attempts to make data that is not easily accessible to the eye more visible, sometimes leading to a greater sense of control over this information. With the changing technological nature of publishing and society in general, the increase in the functionality of invisible things (e.g. WiFi and Bluetooth) shows us the ever-present nature of wireless connectivity in our lives today. Overall, we can see the impact of visualisation on everyday life, as well as its capacity for pattern recognition and its ability to establish relationships that haven’t been seen before. Very interesting!

Following on from that large (and boring) amount of theory, I want to give you a few practical examples of visualisation from one of my favourite sports, soccer! Below are two visualisations, one involving the passes of Barcelona player Xavi Hernandez in the Champions League Semi FInal versus Inter Milan in 2009, and the second involving Chelsea player Frank Lampard and a visualisation of his record breaking 203 goals for the club.

Visualisation of Frank Lampard's 203 Chelsea goals.

Visualisation of Frank Lampard’s 203 Chelsea goals.

Visualisation of Xavi Hernandez's passing statistics during the 2009 Champions League Semi Final versus Inter Milan.

Visualisation of Xavi Hernandez’s passing statistics in the 2009 Champions League Semi Final versus Inter Milan.

The information presented in the graphics above are simple, accessible, convenient and aesthetically pleasing, making it easier to understand the data and how it is interpreted. From my personal experience of following, watching and playing soccer, this type of data visualisation appeals to me as I am able to discover a sense of the unknown, or rather see information in a visual form that I would have previously missed or disregarded when watching the game as a form of entertainment. These two infographics have enabled me to make the invisible visible, and have also been used by soccer journalists and statisticians to discover and present data patterns through the medium of publishing. Visualisation plays a huge role in the world of publishing as we know it today, and in certain circumstances, data can be represented to interpret certain trends that were not previously apparent.




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