Questioning Data Transparency and Final Project Idea

Both reading, “Feminist Data Visualization” and “Representation and the Necessity of Interpretation“, made me realize one keynote point: What’s behind data? What makes data be data? For my whole life, I always believed that data was a representative of facts. By reading both articles, I realized that data is not an answer to what we’re looking for, rather data is leading us to more questions.

Data visualization tend to tell a story. But I never thought what’s behind it. I know that while visualizing data, we often need to eliminate noises. That way, our representation is not 100% accurate. But think about the long-term effect by this representation. People might believe this data visualization as the general picture of what happens in the real world. But not all people will be pleased when they have different perspective on the way the look at it. There are always some people that think the representation is very subjectives. Again, it depends on the intention of the data visualization itself.

We never know how objective the data could be and what else missing from the data. I also believe that the challenge is not only questioning this missing data and how we become as neutral as possible while representing data, but also how we quantify the qualitatives since data itself is actually a representative of something. As a designer, I guess the challenge is how to tell the whole world what’s the story behind the data in a very realistic and simplest way.

Even though now I know that data is probably not something to rely on accurately and to question further, but I do believe that data leads to social interactions. Who knows that what we see is neutral and objective, including those data, satellite imagery, or even real-time video. But it sures makes the society alive by always questioning which is right which is not.

 

Final Project Idea

For people with visual impairments or blindness, wayfinding, or the process of navigating unfamiliar spaces to reach a desired destination, is a complex and intimidating task. Although mobile phones now come preinstalled with screen readers (ie. iPhone VoiceOver and Android’s TalkBack), Google Maps and similar GPS navigation apps are not user-friendly. People with visual impairments or blindness rely heavily on multisensory feedback from their environment to navigate spaces, but the auditory feedback from the screen reader tends to overpower all other senses and can be very overwhelming for the user to concentrate on what steps to take next. This could potentially put the user in a distressed and vulnerable state, especially if others in the surrounding environment are also distracted (i.e. smartphone zombies).

For the final project, I would combine the final with other class, Assistive Technology. Me and Sandy are proposing a way to support user navigating the route by reducing interactivity with mobile phone using principles of calm technology. Calm technology is a type of information technology where the interaction between the technology and its user is designed to occur in his/her periphery rather than constantly at the center of attention. Using Google Maps API, our approach is to develop a mobile app extension that synchronizes with a wearable device and translates directional cues into a combination of non-intrusive haptic vibrations and audio feedback to guide users to their destination.

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