Socicultural Data Portrait

For class today my students read “Mapping Social Networks” chapter 4 of Judith Donath’s The Social Machine. This chapter provides wonderful analysis of data portraits, raising important questions about how people map data, how people build connections between data points, and what choices people make in portraying their data. While Donath raises more questions, we’ve focused on the rhetorical aspects.

For their data quest today, students selected a predetermined question and collected data from their peers. (See the course blog site for further details).

Here’s my Prezi sociocultural data portrait, with me at the center addressing “what is your favorite book.”

With this data portrait I overemphasized, for example purposes, the ties between and my judgment of certain book choices by the students. I included several pieces of data:

  • gender of responder
  • cover of the book
  • how much I like or am interested based on the length and color of the line

As an educational tool this is a really interesting way for students, about halfway through the semester, to explore connections among them. In the beginning of most semesters professors create ice breakers, and interactional assignments to build community. Now as we explore and become comfortable with the rhetorical nature of data, my capstone course re-explored data connections in a way that asked each student to take ownership over the connections (despite me assigning questions). I loved the ownership the students took!

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