This course offers an introduction to working with data for exploration and explanation. It mixes history and theory of information with a series of projects that apply the ideas directly. Students will start with basic data analysis, and then learn about visual design and presentation, followed by more sophisticated interaction techniques. Topics include storytelling and narrative, choosing representations, understanding audiences, and the role of designing with data. Experience with code and/or design is preferred, but not expected or required.
This class is not intended to give students a “how to” on creating data visualization. There are plenty of tools and libraries for creating interactive toys and prescribed visualizations. Those tools can be very useful, but it’s something you can learn on your own time if you choose to do so. This course will incorporate a mix of work that exists outside the world of information design and data visualization, plus work we have done at Fathom, to demonstrate broader ways of looking at narrative and interactive information design.
Grades from A to F will be assigned at both the middle and end of the semesters. Only the end of semester grade is on record. The following criteria are used for assessment:
Completion: Were the projects completed on time?
Design: What was the quality of design concept and perspective? Was there enough design iteration and process sketching?
Code: What is the student’s understanding of code? Were they able to iterate and modify code?
Participation: Did the student participate in class? Did they ask questions to TA's if needed?
Design + Code = 70% of grade
Completion + Participation = 30% of grade
Assignments + Themes
There will be four core assignments representing different information design and data visualization considerations. There will also be weekly themes that align with each project. For the most part, there are no pre-determined deliverables. Each assignment will begin with an overview lecture providing context and precedents.
Assignment 1: Clocks
Assignment 2: Weather
Assignment 3: Census
Assignment 4: Choose your own adventure
Context of Use