This year I will be focusing on a research project, which includes a mixture of academic research and practice-based research. As a visual communication designer, l have chosen to look at how data visualisations can support positive social change.
Why this topic? I have always loved information design – making complex information more simple and accessible to people. In today’s data-rich world there is even more need to filter information and sort the wheat from the chaff. Having been involved with a number of social change programs, I’m keen to use design as a way of making a positive impact.
My research will focus on a specific topic of social benefit – cycling safety – as a way to test how communicating data visually can affect peoples’ attitudes. A keen cyclist, I have a number of useful contacts in that area. I will take published data from a research organisation and turn it into visualisations they can use. These are likely to be a mixture of static and interactive visualisations. Once done, I will test these visualisations against certain criteria, to determine which factors affect peoples’ attitudes or stated behaviours.
Before getting started on the practice-based element of the project however, I need to conduct a context review of academic literature and practical resources, and plan the project in a way that keeps the scope manageable and the timescales achievable. I have already done a fair bit of research to get to this point, mostly relating to data visualisation practice and theory. I am hoping my lovely, incredibly well qualified supervisor at Griffith (Ming Cheung) will keep me on track!
I’ve prepared a presentation to explain the project, and will be presenting this tomorrow (as will other Masters students) to get feedback and start moving forward with the project!