Design Definitions and Relationships Realized by Visual Data

Aaron Geiger is one of my graduate students this semester, but he is actually a Master of Journalism student. He’s been taking the course because he needed an elective outside of his department, and he is very interested in design. This was actually the perfect course for him, as it was primarily reading, writing, and discussion.

It is no surprise, then, that Aaron took a much different approach to mapping the design landscape than did the rest of my students. Here is the process he followed:

  1. Collected data using snowball effect on established, credible websites that define different areas of design. For instance, after selecting “Industrial Design”, there were options (links, suggested views) to “Peter Behrens”.
  2. Selected three different definitions of each area of design, and weighed amount of times each word was used.
  3. Word usage was coded with a number depending on amount of times each word was used.
  4. Data entered into a spreadsheet, then visualized using Gephi.
  5. In Gephi, data was plotted and then visualized by algorithm.

The map is organized by the major disciplines, each assigned its own color. Every entity in the map (e.g. person, school, subject) is represented by a circle. The size of the circle corresponds to the number of times each word connected with the original discipline definition. Font size matches circle size. Lines show connections between circles, and the thickness of the line represents the number of threads connected with the snowball sample.

The design of the final artifact needs some work, as it was generated by software, and Aaron doesn’t have the design chops to redraw it. The results are interesting, none-the-less. I’m particularly surprised by the seeming insularity between the disciplines.

  1. designaday posted this