Data Documentary

At the Digital Documentary Audience symposium I was inspired by Mitchell Whitelaw‘s presentation amongst others. Somewhere in the mix of discussion the idea of a data documentary was raised.

From Mitchell’s talk which looked at “data as a material for practice” – I saw a data documentary as being designed in a similar manner to the way Mitchell was working with archives of visual material online using ‘data visualisation’ techniques. (I note on the idfaDOCLAB / MIT open documentary lab ‘Moments of Innovation’ website a section on data visualisation)

Other quotes and notes from Mitchell’s talk:

“Agency and literacy of doing things with data…”
“If culture = data”
“Data representations are made, not given” (here the idea is to provide representations of data that re read in different ways from different perspectives)
“Nonfiction practice of data visualisation”
How is the representation of data designed to be “revealing, complex, generative, and open-ended’?
The was also a focus on organising data beyond “hiding it behind a search box” – although there were also examples of combining indexing with searching.
The design has to consider how it will invite users to explore the content.
The notion of making senses or “sense making’ of the what is created is left to the imagination of the user. The user weaves the complexity together themselves – “work out how to entice people outwards into exploration…”
There was tendency to work from a “one screen interface” to maintain context.
“Intensify and densify the interface…”

References: one of Mitchell’s projects.

Trove National Library of Australia online archive.

‘Mountains out of Molehill’ David McCandless

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