In his piece Theibault remarks that the “key dimensions of a visualization are the density and the transparency of its information.” This particular insight has long plagued/guided what I think about visualizations. While this is not, as Theibault, a new problem vexing historians, there are new ways of alleviating it. In the past I have explored the University of Richmond’s American Panorama maps. I think the Mapping Inequality website strike me as one of the most innovative means to visualize a great deal of complex and clunky data into an accessible format with a great deal of nuance. I would like to explore some of the visualization strategies used by the website. in specific, I appreciate the clarity of the scope and breadth of the information presented as well as acknowledgement of how sources have been used. I think the biggest learning for me from the American Panorama series of maps is how productive a deeper engagement with data can be. As i see them, all the maps on the website have been created with the specific data set in mind, with a clear understanding of the public for the visualization being generated. So data governs the visualization, with an acute acknowledgement and understanding of the sources at hand as well as the audience.
Thinking about my own project, I see three kinds of vantage points that need to be visualized and bring with them their own challenges. First, I have long grappled with trying to make legible the theoretical and historical vantage points that I am coming from. i think these need to be visualized because they will provide an intellectual lineage that the project will draw upon. Furthermore, it will also lay out the pathway for a legible visual vocabulary that the project at large will follow. An early attempt at this is the diagram at hand. As someone who thinks visually, drawing out these connections was important to me. However, more importantly, the diagram attempts showing relationships in a way that also pays attention to the individual relationships between elements. In particular, it tries to pay attention to hierarchies and flows.
As I look at this diagram, I now realize that this will probably be accompanied by some text and may be better off as an example of how my brain maps the connections instead of being something i could realistically hope audiences understand intuitively.
Second, in thinking about borders as infrastructure, I first wanted to create a typology of borders around the world. The primary motive with this map is to offer the audience an easily lexicon of the kinds of borders that exist in the world in a way that they reflect their current status as being armed or unarmed etc. At the time I made my map, I did not know of this excellent map which does a much better job of explaining the age and contexts of borders.
Third, in trying to map dredging with other social and political events, I wanted to try and map river flows with dredged material along with a mapping of important social and political events. The result was this collage, which is not ineffective as a visualization but lacks depth. In looking at the American Panorama website, I think this collage might work better as a Story Map, where I isolate the information in more digestible packets.
Experimenting with these simple visualizations has made me realize that my data set needs to be more nuanced and I need to work out a more legible narrative that I want to convey. Furthermore, the connections and lineages I want to highlight are not easily discernible in the ways I have thus far visualized my data. I want to go back to Tableau to further experiment with how that form of visualization might relate to my project but I first need to sift through, gather more, and arrange my data in a systematic manner before I can go back to Tableau.