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The Digital Humanities: Digital Visualization

What is Digital Visualization?

  Image Source: Aaron Koblin's Flight Patterns in Ryan Madel's,  "The Art of Data Visualization"


What is "digital visualization"?

"Thought processes are enhanced when ways are found to link external perception with internal mental processes by the use of graphic aids. Such aids range from scribbled diagrams to sophisticated linkages between thought, images, and text such as those employed by Leonardo da Vinci. These tools allow visual perception to be harnessed in the dynamic processes associated with the creation or discovery of new knowledge. Digital humanists are applying digital versions of these age-old tools in many areas of research, from the graphs generated by text analysis applications to virtual reality models of ancient buildings, methods known collectively as ‘digital visualization’."

(See: p. 281 in:  Martyn Jessop (208).  "Digital Visualization as a Scholarly Activity," Literary and Linguistic Computing 23(3): 281-293.)


Journals at USC with a Specific Focus on Visual Communication:

Visual Communication  "Visual Communication is a quarterly, peer-reviewed academic journal publishing top research in visual studies. It welcomes contributions from scholars in anthropology, sociology, history and scientific research. Articles cover still and moving images; graphic design and typography; visual phenomena such as fashion, professional vision, posture and interaction; the built and landscaped environment; and the role of the visual in relation to language, music, sound and action."

Visual Communication Quarterly "We define "visual" in the broadest sense of the word -- from dreams and cognitive theory through gesture and geography, as well as issues concerning visual ethics, visual ecology, representation, visual media in all forms, and visual behavior. Methods range from tightly controlled quantitative studies through critical analysis, essays, qualitative scholarship, and creative art. We also print numerous single images and portfolios as well as multimedia work on our Web site, a rarity among academic journals.


For additonal journals, see:

Directory of Open Access Journals  (Search for journals, using key phrase:  visual communication)

Complementary, Useful Guides

For additional information on data, see the following Research Guides by librarians at USC Libraries:

Statistics & Data  (Katharin Peter) 

GIS for Social Work (Andy Rutkowski)

Spatial Science and GIS (Andy Rutkowski)

Introduction to Data Visualization

Image Source:  Voltaire and his most popular correspondents  (Elijah Meeks, Stanford University.  Individual names of people and letters are shown in the larger version [available at Meeks' site] by clicking on the image.)

A Very Few Examples of Creative Work using Data Visualization:

Aaron Koblin  = Works (For each work, click on "project Site + Video).         Aaron Koblin is the creative director of the Data Arts Team at Google and an acclaimed artist and designer specializing in data and digital technologies. His work uses real-world and community-generated data to reflect on cultural trends and the changing relationship between humans and the systems they create.  Koblin presented his works and those of others at USC's Visions and Voices (6 Nov 2014).  See also his video, Aaron Koblin: Visualizing ourselves ... with crowd-sourced data (filmed March 2011)

Lesia Trubat. Electronic Traces   "The concept of Electronic Traces is based on capturing dance movements and transforming them into visual sensations through the use of new technologies. To do this we focused on the ballet shoes themselves, which through the contact with the ground, and thanks to Lilypad Arduino technology, record the pressure and movement of the dancer's feet and send a signal to an electronic device.A special application will then allow us to show this data graphically and even customize it to suit each user, through the different functions of this app."  (See:  FlowingData - Projects).

Note:  Contributor for these two recources, above: Stacy Williams, USC Libraries.

David McCandless The Beauty of Data Visualization   (Video, 23 Nov. 2012 - 18 mins.).  McCandless is a London-based independent data journalist and information designer. He visualizes information – facts, data, ideas, subjects, issues, statistics, questions. See also his Blog: Information is Beautiful.

Stanford Spatial History Project   (Stanford University) "Visualization of historical data in time and space illuminates patterns of movement and transformation in the past. We are experimenting with visualization as a tool to develop new arguments (and new questions) about historical processes and understandings of major historical events."

Visualizing Data (Andy Kirk, a UK-based freelance data visualisation specialist). See also his Blog

Visualization Tools

36 Best Tools for Data Visualization  "There are many different ways of telling a story, but everything starts with an idea. So to help you get started we've rounded up some of the most awesome data visualization tools available on the web." (Nov. 2014).

Data Visualization: Tools Listing     [At] we have put together a selection of tools that we use the most and that we enjoy working with. We called it It includes libraries for plotting data on maps, frameworks for creating charts, graphs and diagrams and tools to simplify the handling of data. Even if you’re not into programming, you’ll find applications that can be used without writing one single line of code. We will keep this list as a living repository and add / remove things as technology develops."

Chart and Image Gallery by Sharon Machlis.   30+ Free tools for data visualization and analysis.

D3js     "D3.js is a JavaScript library for manipulating documents based on data. D3 helps you bring data to life using HTML, SVG and CSS. D3’s emphasis on web standards gives you the full capabilities of modern browsers without tying yourself to a proprietary framework, combining powerful visualization components and a data-driven approach to DOM manipulation. "  

Gapminder World for teachers. At Gapminder World, you can view preloaded data using their visualization software.
Google Fusion Tables (Beta)  "Fusion Tables is an experimental data visualization web application to gather, visualize, and share data tables."  You can visualize and publish your data as maps, timelines and charts. Host your data tables online. Combine data from multiple people.

Many Eyes    "IBM Many Eyes, [is] a web community that connects visualization experts, practitioners, academics and enthusiasts, offers this technology and expertise, along with ways to share and learn from others.  (You can look at other people's visualizations, or upload a data set and create your own.)

Prefuse Information Visualization Toolkit
"Prefuse is a set of software tools for creating rich interactive data visualizations. The original prefuse toolkit provides a visualization framework for the Java programming language. The prefuse flare toolkit provides visualization and animation tools for ActionScript and the Adobe Flash Player. ... The visualization gallery provides numerous examples of the types of applications that can be built with the prefuse toolkit.
US Census Data Visualization  "The first posted visualizations will pertain largely to historical population data, building on prior work done to portray historical changes in the growth and redistribution of the U.S. population. For later visualizations, the topics will expand beyond decennial census data to include the full breadth of Census Bureau data sets and subject areas, from household and family dynamics, to migration and geographic mobility, to economic indicators."     
Visual Understanding Environment (VUE)
An Open Source project based at Tufts University. The VUE project is focused on creating flexible tools for managing and integrating digital resources in support of teaching, learning and research. VUE provides a flexible visual environment for structuring, presenting, and sharing digital information.
Walrus   "Walrus is a tool for interactively visualizing large directed graphs in three-dimensional space. By employing a fisheye-like distortion, it provides a display that simultaneously shows local detail and the global context."