The best part of Visualization class so far is getting exposed to a wild gallery of examples (visual Hacker Schoolers, take note!) Some of my favorites:

I also learned a new phrase: external cognition (Scaife & Rogers, 1996) -- it's a concept I've used many times, but now I have a literature reference for it! External cognition refers to using stuff to offload your brain -- for me, it's spreading papers out on my desk, scribbling on a whiteboard, saving notes on a computer, and so forth... instead of memorizing, I learn how to look up things, or I configure my software to pop up notifications to remind me. Basically, I get a lot less "smart" without my tools.

I've decided my class project will be a visualization of narrative data (from my dissertation) -- how to navigate between intertwined stories of the same event from multiple viewpoints. In addition to thematic similarities, we have examples of:

  • Same event, same narrator, different tellings: Lynn sits down in the spring and tells me about the first day of UOCD (a class). Later in the summer, Lynn sits down again and tells me about the same first day of UOCD -- how do the two versions of her telling differ?
  • Same event, different narrators: Jon also told me about the first day of UOCD. How is his account similar/different from Lynn's?
  • Narrators mentioning each other: Lynn mentions Jon in her account of UOCD's first day, and Jon mentions Lynn.
  • Narrators responding to each other: Once Lynn reads what Jon said, she starts thinking about how she told the story. (Possible sub-question: what in our stories do we choose to focus on / react to? Is there a heatmap we can make?)

This is going to be fun to play with and untangle -- I'm not sure what I want to visualize yet, but the above connections seem like a reasonable starting point.