Research Presentations

Each student will select a data visualization person, topic, theme, technology, etc. to thoroughly research and report on for the rest of the class. You will become an expert in this subject and explore some of the main ideas and concepts behind the research topic you've selected.

Some questions to think about:

  • What is the style/use/purpose of your subject?
  • What does this subject do well? What do they do poorly? What do you like/dislike?
  • How does this subject connect to other readings and discussions within the course?

You should bring supporting materials that will help the rest of the class understand and contextualize your subject in the form of images, quotes, videos, gifs, maps, code, etc. Create a PDF presentation (resolution 1280 x 720px) and commit the file to the “Research Presentations” directory of the git repo before your assigned week. Name your file using the scheme firstname_researchSubject.pdf.

Link videos or websites directly from the .pdf and be prepared to present on your subject for about 20 minutes. Prepare follow-up questions for the class. You will be evaluated on how you describe the main concepts to your peer students in adequate detail, how you connect the topic to other readings and discussions we've had in class, your supporting materials and the quality of your questions for the class within the given time frame.

Look over the potential topics listed below (or propose one of your own devising), then sign up for a topic and time-slot using this google doc.

From History

Jacques Bertin
Oliver Byrne
W.E.B. Du Bois
Charles Joseph Minard
Otto Neurath
William Playfair


Mike Bostock / D3
Muriel Cooper / VLW
Amanda Cox / Upshot
Nicholas Felton
Forensic Architecture
Ben Fry / Fathom / Processing
Tahir Hemphill
Mark Lombardi
Giorgia Lupi / Accurat
Lev Manovich
Cathy O’Neil
Hans Rosling / Gapminder
Jer Thorp / O.C.R.
Washington Post graphics dept.
Richard Saul Wurman

Book Reports

In addition to the independent research you do on a particular designer, you will collaborate with a few of your classmates in a ‘group read’ of one of Edward Tufte’s books. Tufte is best thought of as a design critic and his works as historical and thematic collections of examples, but there are general principles to unpack in each of the chapters.

The Tufte Canon

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
Envisioning Information
Visual Explanations

Each of you will be responsible for skimming the entire book and getting a sense of the ‘message’ of each section. You can then decide amongst yourselves how to divvy up the chapters that you will be responsible for understanding (and presenting) in depth. As with the designer presentations, you should select a half-dozen or so images from your chapter(s) that best exemplify the point he’s trying to make (whether they embody techniques we should all try to emulate or are cautionary tales that offer insight into what doesn't work).

Place your name in one of the empty slots next to a book title in the lower left corner of the same Google Sheet as before.

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