Week 1

  • Assessment of student skills, levels, and interests
    • What do you want to learn in this class?
    • What sorts of data/information graphics work have you done previously?
    • Any coding or stats experience?
  • Introduction to course goals and expectations
  • Intro talk
  • Warm-up Assignment: Catalog & Classify
    • Create and publish a new post with your visualization type as its title. Assign it the tag “Catalog & Classify” in the gear menu.
    • Describe your chosen visualization type in terms of the kinds of values it represents (e.g., fractions, integers, percentages, etc.) and the sorts of comparisons it enables or discourages.
    • Explain what forms of ‘pre-processing’ need to occur between the raw data and the ink/pixels in the resultant chart.
    • Explain the ‘mapping’ by which numerical/categorical/etc values are converted into positions, sizes, colors, textures, etc.
    • Include 3 images apiece to demonstrate ‘good’ and ‘bad’ uses of this visualization type.
    • Consult the Ghost Editor Overview to help you format your text & images.
  • Exercise: Jacques Bertin and the Seven Retinal Variables
    • Download a copy of this worksheet (it’s an Illustrator-friendly PDF)
    • Using the vector drawing software of your choice, fill in all the cells of the empty grid you see sprawling before you. Each cell should represent the numerical value denoted by the column using the retinal variable corresponding to its row.
    • Note that each retinal variable has two rows devoted to it: construct a distinct ‘rule’ for how to encode the values for each and try to make them as different from one another as possible
    • Off to the side draw a key or legend that would allow a viewer to ‘decode’ the original number based on its visual representation


  • Catalog & Classify
    • Complete your post about your chosen visualization type and be prepared to talk about it next time
  • Finish your 7×2 Retinal Variable variations
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