Design: Explorations II
28 July 2016
For this set of design iterations, I wanted to focus more on one specific function of graphics: processing information. When optimized for processing information, a graphic, must be memorizable for comparison and comprehensive for choices (Bertin, 1983).
First I chose one variable, Intensity, and wanted to see what it would look like if I used my own Emotion tracking for the last two months.
If we think about the way we talk about emotions, and it makes sense, we find that we believe emotions are within us. Thus, that we (our bodies) are containers of emotion. When we have an Intense Emotion, we talk about it in this way. We can’t contain our excitement or joy. We want to shake our depression or rid ourselves of pain. We are bursting with happiness.
For this reason, I wanted show each day as a container, and the fuller this container became, the more Intense the Emotion represented was.
I quickly digitized the container as a square and used the following scale:
And so my Emotions from 09 June to 26 July:
Small group of annotated days:
Emotions are complex. From a visualisation with a focus on only variable, this idea comes through much clearer. Above, the major Emotion(s) experienced that day are listed first, then the secondary Emotions that were experienced to a lesser degree are listed.
In both the third and fifth container, Anticipation was experienced but in the third to a lesser Intensity than the fifth. In this case the types of Anticipation came from two separate stimuli. In the third, the 20th of June, I had arrived in Iceland and it was the first day of exploring the unknown. In the fifth, the 23rd of June, I was to run the Midnight Sun Half Marathon that evening. The Anticipation of physical exertion, of which I am already familiar with, was much stronger in Intensity than that of wandering around a new city.
I also iterated this exploration further by taking only the Intensity recording, allowing it to determine the volume of the container, and placing it on an x axis. And so we have the simplest chart form: the Bar Chart.
Or bordering on a geometric Stream Graph, which seemed nicer to see Intensity, and Emotion, as an on-going fluctuation:
The second iteration brings in texture to represent Arousal as a variable. The increase of lines as a way to “crowd the space” attempts a minimalistic reflection of the chemicals flying around when we become aroused by a stimulus.
Here, the weeks are displayed in columns - the third week being the least Intense and only coincidentally the least Aroused:
And here, a breakdown of the days to see if there could be a pattern in just three weeks of data:
The last iteration was perhaps a half step back to the most basic bar chart:
Above, the x axis measures the Intensity of the Emotion, while the y axis measures the Emotion’s Controllability. Therefore, the thicker the bar, the more Intense the Emotion and the higher, the more Control I felt I had, should I have wanted to alter the course of the Emotional process.
The x and y axises could be swapped, or other variables could be substituted in (Conduciveness and Arousal). However, here I wanted to begin to think about how metaphor can help make a visual system for Emotions - something conceptual, so unquantifiable - more measurable.
Intensity as Quantity: This metaphor is in play when we say something like “I care about him a lot.” A lot, being the amount of Care that the person is doing. The more Care someone has, the more Intense they feel about something/someone.
Control as Up: This metaphor is reflected in such phrases as “I am on top of the situation,” “He ranks above me,” “I have control over him,” and “He is the low man on the totem pole.” Here we see that strength (as a victor being on top, or leader in score) and status (being the top executive, top of the food chain) means have the control in a situation.
Here part of the data digitized. The texture variable from Arousal can also be added on top to the Control variable: