In this blog post, we make some — hopefully constructive — comments on blogs assigned to each of us by Prof. Aerts. We generally identify some elements to be kept, and others to be removed.

Luka commenting on blog 20 (Data Show)

Things to change:

In the diverge phase, the vector illustration of the globe is really interesting but my concern is that the tall vertical lines will overshadow and potentially hide the shorter lines. It would be ideal if you could pan the globe, however I believe the visualisation issue would still persist.

Again, the vertical line globe is already difficult to understand, and even more so when extra data is added such as GDP, education indicators etc. My recommendation is to not include such a plot even if it is unique and achievable (

Things to keep:

I really enjoy the 3D block visualisation because it is very intuitive and gives perspective, just so as long as the larger blocks are not placed in the front of the visualisation. An interactive aspect would really make the visualisation come to life.

I am also for the world map overlaid with pie charts because it gives a nice overview but also enables the reader to examine intrinsic details such as the GDP etc. Such a visualisation allows for more interpretability in terms finding key relationships between the variables of interest.

Nicolás commenting on blog 2 (3FM/TheoryofPatterns)

Things to keep:

The graphic in the “converge” phase is a clever one: it intuitively illustrates the relationship between road quality and pollution scores, while using a pie chart for different times of the day, resembling a clock. Well done here.

I am a fan of the plot including flower illustrations — for quality of the road, humidity, CO2 level, etcetera -, as it is intuitive, attractive and suitable; the time series aspect allows one to have a proper overview of how these variables’ relationships evolve over time. In case you have available data for location, that could be a great addition.

Things to change:

The idea of combining sketches with geo-location themes (in the “emerge” phase) makes a lot of sense in the context of visualizing pollution and road quality (in Poland in this case). However, considering the amount of variables you would like to display, I would be careful with overwhelming the viewer with too much data, and rather attempt to make the amount of variables interactive in some sort of way.

More about the blog itself: I would reassess the use of gifs in your blog — particularly, the style of the blogpost “Breaking down our Design Thinking Process”. In my opinion, they do not fit into the context of environmental studies, and rather distract the reader from the topic at hand — I felt as if I was reading Buzzfeed, or something of similar caliber, instead of a blog written by data scientists/statisticians/researchers.

Luca commenting on blog 8 (Data Warriors)

It was a pleasure to read the Data Warriors’ blog posts to date. Having done so, a few thoughts come to mind. As a social scientist having overviewed UMD’s dataset in the past, this project really resonates with my interests. While a few minor criticisms can be made, the groundwork of the group’s project seems very robust and I look forward to seeing the end product.

Things to change:

In the first visualization to result from the converge phase, I am unsure of the value of displaying proportions circularly; I personally find that this makes comparisons difficult. While I understand the aesthetic value of presenting as such (due to the timeline being presented as a circle, which I find stimulating and great) I was wondering if there might be a better way to present this information.

The novelty of your second visualization is quite exciting. However, I am somewhat puzzled about the use of regional nodes — are they essential, in this case? Using such nodes indeed raises the difficult challenge of defining what constitutes a region. For instance, I see in your example map that the US comprises several subregions. While I understand this map is only preliminary, one may ask: is the Midwest truly different from, say, the East Coast in the eyes of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda or ISIS? Probably not. It could be, though, for another more homegrown organization. Thus, defining regionality seems quite complicated with this dataset, which spans a vast variety of groups. Why not simply use exact geographical coordinates?

One last comment is that your research questions seem to have extensively shaped your diverge phase. Is this really desirable in a phase purely devoted to brainstorming. Though I strongly value well-structured research myself, it might be counterproductive in a process like diverge, as it could inhibit making links between the questions.

Things to keep:

As mentioned afore, I find the idea of the second visualization fascinating. It is something I have not seen before. Linking time and space via color change will surely make for very insightful analysis.

Similarly, I find the circular display of the timelines excellent. It allows for the proportional adjustment of circle size (relative to total number of attacks), which is a fantastic advantage!

The overall structure of the blog and the research is crystal clear. It allowed me to make clear mental links between the posts and trace the evolution of your thinking. Great work!

David Commenting on blog 14 (REFRAME:REviewing Female poweRful AsseMbliEs)

Things to change:

I believe that this group chose a very actual topic which I would definitely want to know more about. Therefore, I would like to say that you made a good choice on the topic ! However, there are a few things that could be explained in more details or be a bit more clear.

First of all, the circular visualization presented under “Our first designs” is difficult for me to understand. I think that a visualization should be quite straightforward, but here I really need to look for a pattern or meaning. Perhaps improving on the labels or adding some more explanation would make it much more easier for the reader to understand.

Secondly, overall I see many interesting visualizations, however it is unfortunate that you have not selected a few of them, and discussed them briefly. But no worries, the semester is young and we still have a long way to blog !

Things to keep:

I believe this is a very promising visualization that will show some of your key results. On top of that, the design is quite creative. It is a visualization that shows complex information in a very clear and intuitive way.

I agree that the question: “what is the relationship between the dimensions?” is an interesting one, and it would be amazing if you could use some dimension reduction techniques which you would visualize afterwards. I have to admit that I am thrilled to see your results and all the things you will present at the end of the semester. Keep up the good work !