Terra incognita, jugando con la escala

Una terra incognita o terra ignota (del latín que significa “tierra desconocida”) es un Territorio que aún no ha sido explorado por el hombre.

Usualmente es aceptado que la tarea de la cartografía científica, es representar lo mas fiel posible los arreglos espaciales de un fenómeno sobre la superficie terrestre. (Kitchin, et al. 2011). Esta misión artística, tiene como propósito principal capturar imágenes de elementos espaciales y sus relaciones con diversas superficies materiales, priorizando un enfoque más holgado del concepto escala, develando así territorios muchas veces alejados del conocimiento humano. #terra_incognita

Títulos por orden de aparición (izquierda a derecha, arriba abajo) “La isla del chicle”, “Cartografías Meridionales”, “Amarillo Tacubaya” “Jungla septentrional”, por @norismo; “Continentes al borde de mi taza” por alexgriggunt; “Archipielagos de sombras”, “Grietas Sudacas”, “Humedales Continentales”, “Topografía en turquesa”, “Isla colibrí”, “La isla de Chicle”, “Distrito Naranja-carmín” por @norismo, “Glaciares del Polo” de Mima; “El país del Norte empanizado”, “Península del corazón roto”, “Punta Unicel”, “Pangea de galletas”, “llanuras meridionales”, “Territorio Microbus Ruta 87”, por @norismo; “Planos Nórdicos por digihijo; “Tierra de Fuego” y “Tumbra lumionosa en la región de La regadera” por @norismo.

Las islas de intrusiones ígneas

Si deseas colaborar en la búsqueda de territorios incognitos sólo usa el hashtag de #terra_incognita en instagram o twitter.

Version 2
“Bahía de la Paloma, que desemboca en el Mar de Cortegana”

Imágenes tomadas entre noviembre del 2016 a la fecha.


Kitchin, R., Perkins, C., & Dodge, M. (2011). Thinking about maps. In Rethinking maps: new frontiers in cartographic theory (pp. 1–25). New York, N.Y.: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.

Theirwork un proyecto de Mapeo comunitario

Loe Pool, Cornwall’s largest natural lake in the Southwest of England, has become a sacred place for a group of local residents, who have recently been mapping out their concept of environment. theirwork, an online experiment by designers Dominica Williamson and Emmet Connolly, demonstrates that the future of ecology is a local affair.

Liga al articulo original http://www.fourthdoor.co.uk/unstructured/unstructured_04/article4_6.php
recuperado el 23 de marzo 2017

theirwork is a community and user-driven adaptive development of an online map. As a prototype and experimental process it aims to promote the three core areas of sustainability: social, environmental and economic well-being. Providing an empty map where people can deposit information online, it shows how collaborative mapmaking is an important community activity that can drive change and be a tool for empowerment. The development is a highly agile, organic and living process based on constant communication and characterised by inclusion and local/individual relevance. It constitutes a sustainable online vehicle powered by sustainable communal activity. This online experiment draws on the themes from a number of movements, such as green map-making, sustainability, Open Source, folksonomy, visual qualitative research, and user-centred design. The theirworkpractice-based perspective aims to combine the potential of these movements.

In paper-based and computer workshops co-developers jointly discussed their codes (tags), sharing their ideas of place on and offline.

The concept
The online community mapping process is a social, non-commercial enterprise based on one location – Loe Pool, a small freshwater lake suffering from the effects of pollution. To date about eighteen local residents have been involved as co-mappers, but the prototype experiment is open to everyone, so anyone can add to the map  (whether resident or transient visitor). The co-mappers, who become co-developers, have been using the lake environment in a number of ways, over a period of time – walking or running around the lake for leisure and pleasure, riding their bikes, fishing, drawing, picnicking, working. As participants in theirwork they assisted in the first stage of the process by walking, talking and recording their experiences, feelings, and sensory impressions, indicating why they were of interest to them. This provided the basis for marking places on the map. Data taken from the experience of spending time onsite or in the ‘real’ location provided the building blocks from which to construct the virtual location. Now that the surface map is ready, others can join in and add to it. The nature of the web-based interface allows anybody to access the project online when pointed to or when stumbled across. What is more, the interface allows rummaging, meandering, editing and adding to the map-based content.

The background
theirwork derived from a global movement called Green Map System. GMS promotes an eco-cultural way of making maps and is an organisation driven by ‘action and responsibility’. It encourages people at a local level, from any background and from anywhere in the world, to form teams of all ages. Together such teams chart the natural and cultural environments that exist in their streets, parks, rivers and other localities. Working together, these mapmakers gather data, develop designs for maps and finance map productions. The result is, ‘regionally flavoured maps that fulfil local needs, yet are globally connected’ in almost fifty countries. There are over 350 projects and over 250 published maps. The maps are globally recognised and connected because they use the same set of global icons – a Green Map system of shared visual language. The aim is to help people live a better, more sustainable way of life. Teams are increasingly creating online versions of such maps. Many of these are static web pages. Instead of a closed finite map, the theirwork designers wanted to provide an empty map where people could deposit information when online, allowing an ongoing, interactive development.


theirwork draws on themes from a number of movements, such as Green Mapmaking, sustainability, Open Source, folksonomy, phenomenology and qualitative research.

In addition, theirwork wanted to create a map that was easier to maintain and easier to change than a printed or static web map. An up-dateable web map also enabled the creation of a snapshot history of a locale. In addition, creating the right atmosphere online allows the content-caretakers to listen to people as they use the map and as they start archiving data. They can watch and track how the map is used, its efficiency and the impact it is having. It becomes possible to find out whether the map triggers such positive effects as, for example, residents looking after a location better or at the very least, having raised awareness about it.

David Abram’s ‘The Spell of the Sensuous’ inspired the designers’ research and philosophy. Abrams calls for a re-habitation of place and body so that people can start inhabiting places like coastal forests and grasslands again. To do this, he says, requires action. And this action is successful when bioregional communities develop a language that is representative of the local ‘soundscape’ (prevalent sounds found in a particular space). A phenomenological approach was supported and reinforced by this angle of enquiry, and then re-introduced through an ethnographic, as well as a Green Map process of data collection and analysis. The participants were invited to take part in the project before it existed online. Before they typed, they walked, talked, drew and shared ideas. This approach meant that map-making and the power/knowledge that results from the act of creating a map could reach more people, and help more people ‘connect’ to their place. theirwork’s aim was increasingly to facilitate a more empowering understanding of the term sustainability. Bioregional mapping empowers individuals within their localities and gives them a clearer comprehension of sustainable ideas. From this position, theirwork has developed an innovative framework to help explore, de-centre, and re-frame the concept of ‘sustainability’, to generate new meanings and practices.

Liberation through adherence to ‘Openness’
Reflecting all the time and with purpose, theirwork attempts to set an example of project-based sustainable activity, using a sustainable vehicle delivering sustainable data. To meet this maxim it was fundamental to adopt an Open Source method of production (and licensing), in which key ideas are re-use, shared licensing and open content – these are computer software programmes where the source code is made available to anyone who may wish to study it and make derivative versions of it. This is in contrast to the usual computer software systems that exclude, restrict and prohibit derivative versions. The above prohibitive way of working is creating large virtual data piles that can only be altered, customised and improved by the exclusive few who have created the code or have access to the code. This can be related to other ways of digital working. For instance, too many images that can’t be re-used (due to copyright restrictions) are also leading to image-mountains. This type of digital material presence is yet another source of waste production. With theirwork (or a future, fully-fledged version of theirwork grown out of its infancy), one can learn things about a place, store information and then move on to the next place. One can keep walking and learning, working and sharing, as the source code and content is licensed so that others can access, use or change it, resulting in less data to be (re) made. The mantra reduce, reuse, recycle is fully incorporated here.

This way of thinking – future thinking or rather re-thinking is vitally important because until very recently much sustainability practice has been bound up in research-based institutes in the form of academic research or within mainstream government-based funding schemes. The scopes of these organisations has often been highly limited because they have frequently been too stretched or pre-occupied with the usual way of working, embodying standard computer systems, and are not simply motivated and educated enough to apply such practice-based sustainability at the ground level and on a day-to-day basis. theirwork, as an Open Source mapping example, is reaching towards “sustainable software”, implementing a green digital working practice or simply put, a greener way of working with software

In the context of theirwork, the implications of using sustainable software on a day-to-day and long-term project basis are still emerging. Crucially there is an “open” approach to planning and building the project. This openness means more than simply Open Source software licensing. It is the openness to allow the project to naturally find its own path to success; to avoid being overly deterministic, even dictatorial in the planning of a project, and to be instead open to new ideas, letting the project evolve and take its own direction, allowing access to anyone who wishes to get involved or move the project in a new direction.

Over time unexpected, but worthwhile results will emerge, results that would be impossible if a project was subject to the strict restraints of commercial software development. By working outside the confines of profit-driven commercial systems and outside set and established standards the mapping activity operates in a guerrilla-like way, exploiting the freedom to roam on a journey of discovery. These ideas are derived from the software world where Open Source software, allows anyone to adapt it to their own needs – basically do with it as they please. There is a rich ecosystem of software development that has grown out of this area, and there are many examples of successful software projects that could never have happened, or been sustainable, without this model to support it. Linux operating systems, one of the only challenges to the virtual commercial monopoly held by Microsoft with their Windows Operating System, is one example of this. This model, applied quite comfortably to software development here, can easily be applied to other models of production or organisation as well.

Political and philosophical directions influenced even the most technical aspects of the development of the project. The use of licensed mapping software (such as Google’s online mapping technology) was rejected in favour of a more open approach. Instead, bespoke software for representing and interacting with the on-screen map was developed. Thankfully, some Open Source programming toolkits were accessible that helped greatly in creating the software and meant that this intimidating task did not have to be undertaken from scratch. The work made available by others was used  -and built upon to realise the project’s unique vision – without compromising.

Another brick in the sustainability wall is that of Open Data. Ordnance Survey licensing issues are an excellent example of the bad and ugly counterpart of Open Data. By contrast, making data open, accessible and free encourages people to get involved without having to fear that their contribution will disappear into a black hole. By sharing the material that all of us can contribute, and by putting it into the public domain, widespread engagement is facilitated and encouraged, the quality of the material improves exponentially, opening up excess spare time for new developments. Growth potential – the much-hyped buzzword in business parlance – takes on real meaning.

The building blocks

To achieve the degree of openness and communal co-development that enables co-mappers to participate in steering the concept of the project, it was important to let them ‘roam free’ after delivering an induction to the process in a first focus session. The co-mappers then revisited the lake as part of the theirwork project, aiming to make the ‘world into a home’, re-experiencing the importance of the place through texture, silence and sound, image and emotional experiences. The act of walking and recording walks became an important area for each co-mapper. The ‘type of walk’ each co-mapper liked to do became an integral part of data collection and data analysis. The co-mappers were helped in tracking the walks; sites of interest, favourite places, memory spots, stories connected to a place, objects, plants and animals were noted using cameras, notebooks, a GPS unit and Dictaphone.

The co-mappers were involved in creating the base map of the lake as well as in the creation of the content for the base map. To do this theirwork walked around the perimeter of the Cornish lake with a GPS unit (Global Positioning System), recording track points of the path, taking photos for reference and subsequently transferring this data to a computer. At any stage, this base map can be reviewed and changed by co-mappers. They have now become co-developers. Currently the only way to mark a place on the map is by way of entering a geocode (a latitude and longitude figure), rather than just dropping the place of interest onto the map – over time the goal is to change and improve this, because the core idea is to let people add data of personal relevance, to tell others why they feel the place is important, in short to share their innermost feelings about their locale. In time, snapshots of history can be built up as people add their photographs or drawings, and eventually sound may also emanate from the map or its markings. Continuous change as an inherent element of theirwork based on user-interactivity makes online-mapping a site of user empowerment, by the user for the user.

To help collect, translate, share and code the data, a loose framework of qualitative enquiry was developed based on Douglas Ezzy’s multi-disciplinary approach. He believes multidisciplinary approaches to qualitative research are integral to good ethnography and theirwork was influenced by his way of working with conversation and text. theirwork introduced co-developers to qualitative coding methods as a way of creating open collaboration that was down to earth and easy to relate to. The framework used open and closed questions. Answers to open questions, such as “What do you feel about the lake?” were geo-tagged. Adhering to Ezzy’s recommendation of a participatory-grounded ethnographic approach to data collection, theirwork fitted into each co-developer’s agenda.

To capture the essence of informal walks – like was it a sunny, cloudy, windy or rainy day? Dictaphone recordings were transcribed. Some of the codes that developed from the walks were words such as rocks, water, agriculture, birds, meditation, trees, fields, memories, fish, events. They originate from sentences by eight different people, referring to their direct interests around the lake. In a paper-based workshop co-developers then jointly discussed the codes, shared their record of the walk from memory and grouped their memories into shared title codes. Importantly, qualitative data became coded by the co-developers, not by some distant and ‘removed’ ethnographer.

The next step and an important part in the puzzle of mapmaking is how to categorise the collected data. In fact, with the coding that had taken place categorisation had already started to take place. Tags were ready-made for the map interface. A starter kit had been created, which effectively introduced the co-developers to tagging or folksonomy. Folksonomy is an internet-based information-retrieval methodology. It aims to make a body of information easier to search, discover, and navigate over time. A well-developed folksonomy becomes a shared vocabulary that is originated by, and familiar to its users.

Using this folksonomic approach theirwork tackled the question of what a sustainable model of group data classification actually is? Green Maps have encountered this problem. Setting criteria for what should appear on a map immediately amounts to editorial control. If this control is strong, it results in the exclusion of data that some people feel is important, and counters the idea of openness. If free reign is permitted, the end result may lack structure and may collapse into chaos. theirwork was keen to give co-developers as much personal choice in terms of content as possible without jeopardising a final map that would still show a coherent picture. This involved discarding any notions of hierarchical classification, and instead allowing co-developers to tag their data with keywords to describe it instead. A data point has many keywords pinned onto it instead of just being placed into a single category. This actually opens up the process significantly and leads to a much more creative way of adding data. Users now have the freedom to use the map in ways that may never have been thought of in the first place – one of theirwork’s major goals.

Workshops have played an important part in the process, from the introductory focus session through to the paper workshop, which set the stage for a computer workshop. The computer workshop tested the beta software framework. Co-mappers were by then able to teach each other how to use the software framework. They put marks on the map using latitude and longitude figures supplied from the archive of their walks. They tagged their marks efficiently and with ease, having been introduced to the concept of folksonomy in the paper workshop.

The theirwork designers listened carefully to co-developers views, feelings and ideas for the future of the software. When things started taking shape onscreen the mood in the workshop room was electrifying: everyone suddenly watched their places appear on the map and all the efforts and concepts that must at times have seemed utterly puzzling started to make sense. Meeting the designer Emmet on web-cam, as he fixed technical problems from Dublin, was another exciting moment. Everyone in the room was totally thrilled when tags suddenly got bigger than others – realising the connection of frequency of use, when others shared their tag. More workshops and more walks were requested – theirwork co-developers had caught the mapping bug.

The future
Far from being content with daytime mapping, already full moon walks have taken place – creating, recording and archiving night-time words and night-time drawings. In addition to the recording of every day walks and conversations, co-developers also requested specialist events. The first butterfly foray has taken place, and bat and moth parties and sea-mapping events are in the pipeline.

The theirwork designers regard this as testimony of the project’s success so far, and in the name of ‘sustainability’ more paper and computer workshops are being planned. A resource workshop is under development. This will introduce co-mappers to a number of tools such as RSS feeds, flickr functions, book marking libraries and forum functions (feed://theirwork.org/blog/feed > http://flickr.com/photos/theirwork/sets > http://del.icio.us/theirwork > http://theirwork.org/forum)

Establishing a counterforce to commonly established protocols and thinking on a small-scale local level, is success in itself. Enhancing a somewhat taken-for-granted experience of local landscape through developing a shared consciousness of one’s closest surroundings is an added bonus. What gives the greatest satisfaction is to see community activity turning guerrilla activity and achieving sustainable results quite apart from the pleasure of seeing participants’ enjoyment in the mapping process, which has given them a heightened awareness of their locality. They now see the old environment with new eyes.

What is important here is that the mapmaking process continues (is sustainable) and is grounded in multiple perspectives. Multiple voices and autonomous experiences are documented via first person sensory experience and through a community’s felt experience of landscape. theirwork is not just about walking around and making a map, it is about a collective digital notebook or diary – a storage box and a place of reflection. In a sense theirwork is about giving room for place in varying ways, so that it can become valued and brought into a shared consciousness. Encouraging actual bodies to walk, talk and record experiences in real-time space is creating a highly personalised, visual, kinaesthetic, emotional, sensory and tactile copyright-free bioregional map. The question now is how sustainable is it to grow and roam the project elsewhere?

Project Details

Map: http://theirwork.org

Blog: http://theirwork.org/blog


Green Map: http://greenmap.org

Green Atlas: http://greenatlas.org

Loe Pool: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loe_Pool

Open Source: http://www.opensource.org

Emmet Connolly is an interaction designer living in Dublin. Dominica Williamson is a freelance artist and designer working in the field of digital design and sustainability and is based in Cornwall.

The theirwork designers would like to thank all the co-developers who have been involved in the project so far, and to those who supported early R&D, and to all those in Green Map System.


Y por eso, no nos quieren a los publicistas ni a los diseñadores.

De verdad, ¿Cuándo vamos a dejar de engañarnos? a nosotros mismos.

Les cuento una anécdota totalmente ordinaria, pero que me llena de rabia. Resulta que estamos tratando de hacer licuados para las hijas en la mañana que van con tanta prisa a la escuela y buscamos un yogurt SIN AZUCAR –que por cierto es una hazaña para encontrar en el supermercado hoy en día, a excepción del de Alpura. Cuando me refiero a SIN AZUCAR por lo menos espero que el yogurt tenga un sabor “acidito” para que yo le agregue un poco de miel o mascabado, pero que no empalague. No soy nutrióloga, sólo  soy una diseñadora, pero mi paladar alcanza a distinguir cualquier endulzante en los productos lácteos. (Quizás no tanto para detectar el de la leche).

Bueno pues resulta que mi esposo fue al super y compró VITALÍNEA de Danone que como podrán aprecian el la foto el empaque dice “DANONE”, “Vitalínea” “SIN AZUCAR” y abajo de este encabezado bastante grande con letras cursivas dice “Natural”. Bueno el caso es que ya llevamos varios días dando este yogurt a las hijas, con un poco de miel. Y hoy que decidí probarlo, me doy cuenta que sabe super dulce, de hecho mi paladar encuentra un sabor parecido el que “deja” los productos “light!!! que odio, desde la “Coca Zero” hasta cualquier que lleve un endulzante artificial o natural como “stevia”.


El caso es que si usamos el sentido común, queremos un yogurt sin el sabor dulce o endulzantes, (no importa si se llama, azúcar, sacarosastevia o que se yo).  pero lo común es pensar que uno que dice en su etiqueta “SIN AZUCAR” haga el trabajo. Y bueno les sigo contando el leer los ingredientes me encuentro con La tabla nutrimental que dice, por cada porción de 125 g, que le hemos dado a las hijas, NO tiene Azúcares añadidos pero si tiene 7,5 (g)  de Azúcares.

¿Qué Azúcares?
Leyendo el texto de los ingredientes, más abajo, creo que lo que le hemos estado dando a nuestras hijas en las mañanas es una mezcla de:  jarabe de maltrodextina, almidón modificado, acesulfame K y sucralosa, más una pequeña dosis de miel, o sea lo contrario a mis expectativas de evitar los cereales.


Ahora desde el punto de vista del diseño, me debí dar cuenta que el lema “SIN AZUCAR”, es de color cyan, lo que equivale según el gradioso libro de María Acaso, “El lenguaje visual”, que es como se comunican las categoría de light, en nuestro contexto, y el color morado, también avisa al consumidor que es un producto lácteo light. Pero que creen, yo no compré el producto, lo compró mi esposo (quién también es diseñador) e iba buscando un yogurt sin azúcar y nosotros nos preguntamos, los diseñadores del empaque sabrían lo que están haciendo o ¿Sólo hicieron la “traducción” de lo que hace la competencia para vender más?. Qué falta hace una investigación centrada en las expectativas del usuario y no una para ganarle a la competencia.

Y este enojo que me lleva a escribir esto, es una denuncia tanto para la compañía Danone, como para la agencia que le lleva la publicidad, y un llamado a mis colegas diseñadores de información, quienes trabajamos  para que que las personas reciban información “clara y transparente” pero sobretodo cuya labor trata de empatar “la expectativa” de un producto con el producto mismo y no trabajamos para mostrar conceptos dudosos y complicados “enmascarillándo” la información para que la gente compre.

Así que si la próxima vez nos piden un trabajo así, pensemos que es lo que la gente espera y si el producto realmente cumple con esa tarea y por lo menos lo mas ético es hacérselo saber a nuestros clientes. Aunque la NORMA diga lo contrario.

La ultima pregunta que va mas para mis estudiantes de diseño: Como tendría que ser un empaque menos engañoso y turbio, es decir más congruente con la expectativa del consumidor. Podría decir “SIN ENDULZANTES”? y podría tener una tabla nutrimental más sencilla y legible.

Bueno he dicho… GRACIAS  por leer.



Visual reasoning through information design

El razonamiento visual a partir del diseño de información

Mapping Complex Information. Theory and Practice

On the left are three problem figures that are a related series. On the right are three answer figures, one of which is the fourth of this series. Can you induce the remaining answer figure?Visual Induction Problem: On the left are three problem figures that are a related series. On the right are three answer figures, one of which is the fourth of this series. Can you induce the remaining answer figure? (Based on McKim, 1980)

The visual communication of complex or less known topics (e.g. science, medicine, mathematics) in simpler and clearer ways appeals to users and readers’ visual reasoning. Visual reasoning is the process of both analysing information presented in visual form (e.g. pictures, diagrams, drawings) and solving problems based on visual logic combining verbal, mathematical and visual analysis. As with other types of reasoning, McKim (1980) explains that visual reasoning can be deductive: we move from abstract to concrete ideas (e.g. reconstructing an image when a part is missing). Or it can be inductive: we start with concrete visuals or images, and need to figure out the underlying abstract principles or ideas.

We all think visually: e.g. we…

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Giorgia Lupi nos cuenta, porque dibuja

Les comparto esta super entervista que la revista Green futures le hace a Giorgia Lupi quien refelxiona sobre el dibujo en la visulización de la información.


Why I draw: Giorgia Lupi on the art of visual understanding

17th November, 2014 by Giorgia Lupi

Giorgia Lupi, information designer and co-founder of Accurat, explains how drawing can lead to new ways of seeing and understanding.

Giorgia Lupi

Why do you draw?
I draw to freely explore possibilities. I draw to visually understand what I am thinking. I draw to evaluate my ideas and intuitions by seeing them coming to life on paper. I draw to help my mind think without limitations, without boundaries.

Drawing plays an important role in the production and communication of knowledge, and in the genesis of new ideas. It illustrates how instinctively our perception is directed towards finding meaning in things, recognising things. The act of drawing, and the very fact we choose to stop and draw, demands focus and attention. I use drawing as my primary expression, as a sort of functional tool for capturing and exploring thoughts.

For me, drawing is also an obsession: I always carry pens, pencils and paper in any situation. I cannot think about a project without a pen and some paper. Drawing is my way to understand that I had an idea in the first place. Besides, I take an incredible pleasure in tracing lines on paper and seeing abstract shapes come alive.

When does drawing become design?
I see design as a way to translate a structural concept for a specific audience, through a specific medium. It is also the process of visual planning and organising the choices made along the way of a project, given the specific boundaries of it. Drawing becomes design when you start tracing lines that help you rationalise what you think, and envision a possible solution. When it comes to designing data visualisations, I see three phases. One is understanding the macro categories to start sketching the first visual possibilities to organise the data, its ‘architecture’. Then I focus on the singular elements, the entry points, to figure out which shapes, colours and features we might invent to represent the sub-categories. Finally, we structure what I’d expect to eventually have in Illustrator software, but on paper. Isn’t drawing already ‘design’ in these phases? I think so.

What impact would you most like to have through your drawings?
I don’t draw to have an impact, I draw for myself. My drawings are never final pieces. I think this is something very personal. The most important impact I want my drawings to have is to lead me towards new, unexpected and beautiful visual design solutions, to create powerful and unusual visual compositions with data. In fact, I really want our work to be accurate, but beautiful and disruptive to a certain extent.

Do you see yourself as part of a data visualisation movement?
What drives me is the search for multiple ways to create unexpected, beautiful things in a way that can accurately represent complex systems of information. More generally, I think there are many reasons for the popularity of data visualisations. People are exposed to an increasing stream of content from many sources; bright and catchy images such as infographics fit perfectly into this media diet, playing with hierarchies to provide multiple levels of possible readings within a single piece. Of course, the proliferation of a number of easy-to-use and free tools has made the creation of infographics available to a large segment of the population, even non-experts.

What does it mean to be a designer?
To be a designer you have to find new ways to attract attention through new languages, products and solutions that – besides being functional and appropriate – must be magnetic and surprising. There are no universal answers to ‘how’ one does that. I think that I would simply say that it’s important not to leave any possibilities unexplored; and that it’s important to pursue logical solutions while freely letting the imagination flow.

Sometimes a great idea can come unexpectedly. Free explorations in design can lead to insights and epiphanies that cannot be always anticipated with a rational design approach. What I always do when I start every kind of project is allow myself to have time to get inspired by the world around me, while having the ‘brief’ in mind. I spend a great amount of time looking for visual inspiration, which I carefully organise on Pinterest.

What advice would you give to someone who can’t draw?
There is a lot of freedom in drawing; sometimes this freedom can scare and paralyse you. Complete freedom is never very good for coming up with truly disruptive ideas.

Even in my personal project I set constraints. What I would suggest is to start with a topic you want to explore (or redraw), and some rules for the final output, and then just start. And do it again. And do it again.

Draw for yourself, not for anybody else. And approach drawing less scientifically, more naively.

I draw without any prejudice: letting my hand go freely, without asking if it makes sense for the project in that very moment. Then I look at what I’ve drawn and decide whether to work on it, engaging this loop between thoughts, paper and sight.

Giorgia Lupi is co-founder and Design Director at Accurat, an information design company based in Milan and New York.

Image credit: Giorgia Lupi


Liga: https://www.forumforthefuture.org/greenfutures/articles/why-i-draw-giorgia-lupi-art-visual-understanding

Historia visual del decrecimiento de la guerra y la violencia.


Les dejo esta liga que los dejará pensando https://ourworldindata.org/slides/war-and-violence/#/title-slide en donde Max Rosen compara la “violencia interpersonal” con el régimen político de cada

Después analiza a mayor profundidad en esta otra liga https://ourworldindata.org/homicides/ el indice de homicidios y nos presenta estadísticas sobre el indice de violencia a largo plazo en Europa. En particular se enfoca en los homicidios es decir la muerte ilícita que se impone deliberadamente en una persona a otra, descartando las muertes de civiles y militares durante las guerras y genocidios, basándose en varios artículos científicos, en particular el de Eisner (2003) – Long-Term Historical Trends in Violent Crime. In Crime and Justice, 30, 83–142.


Rosen concluye que los homicidios interpersonales han bajado en el periodo de el medioevo hasta el presente. Aunque me gustaría ver un acercamiento al contexto particular de México, ya que de acuerdo a la primera liga baja la violencia si los países son más democráticos lo que me lleva a pensar si el aumento en el indice de violencia puede ser un argumento para demostrar que nuestro gobierno actual se vuelve menos democrático. (Es un buen proyecto atractivo de Diseño de Información).

Acá el artículo de Eisner que me parece muy interesante.


La definición de Experiencia de Uso

Summary: “User experience” encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.


The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use. True user experience goes far beyond giving customers what they say they want, or providing checklist features. In order to achieve high-quality user experience in a company’s offerings there must be a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design.

It’s important to distinguish the total user experience from the user interface (UI), even though the UI is obviously an extremely important part of the design. As an example, consider a website with movie reviews. Even if the UI for finding a film is perfect, the UX will be poor for a user who wants information about a small independent release if the underlying database only contains movies from the major studios.

We should also distinguish UX and usability: According to the definition of usability, it is a quality attribute of the UI, covering whether the system is easy to learn, efficient to use, pleasant, and so forth. Again, this is very important, and again total UX is an even broader concept.

For more depth: Full-day UX Basic Training course
See also: UX Certification


Watch Don Norman explain the origin of the term “UX” and what he thinks about the way some people use it these days (2 min. video):

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Historias implicitas en la visualización de datos

Implied Stories (and Data Vis)

en http://blogger.ghostweather.com/2014/03/implied-stories-and-data-vis.html

At the excellent Tapestry Conference in February in Annapolis, Emma Coats (@lawnrocket) spoke about storytelling, the theme of the conference. Her talk was based on her internet-famous 22 Rules of Storytelling developed while she was at Pixar.

Lacking the video of her talk ([ETA: here it is!]), I cracked open the ebook based on her principles by Stephan Bugaj, Pixar’s 22 Rules of Story (That Aren’t Really Pixar’s) (— which, incidentally, Emma says was written without her permission and none of her involvement. Caveat Lector).

Pixar Rule 4:

Once upon a time there was a ______. Every day, ________. One day ________. Because of that, _______. Because of that, _______. Until finally ________.

Bugaj points out this is a summary of a basic plotting structure, the “story spine,” suggested in many books on writing fiction: setup, change through conflict, resolution. The details make it a good story, of course (character, context, conflict…).

Emma talked about confounding the expectations of an audience: The ghost of what they expected should remain at the end, but your story arc should win (and convincingly). Related was an important point: the implied story line. You suggest a shape to what will or might happen (or has happened), and the audience fills it in. Her pithy example was Hemingway’s “shortest story every told”, a 6-worder:

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

There are lots of ways the story here can be filled in, all of them sad. The reader brings the detail and does most of the work, but the author set it up very well to allow this.

Another Short Story

I’d like to offer another example, a very short story deconstructed in a series of lectures by sociologist Harvey Sacks (Lectures on Conversation) — which coincidentally also features a baby:

“The baby cried. The mommy picked it up.”

Maybe it’s not as GOOD a story as Hemingway’s, but Sacks argues it’s a story, based on having a recognisable beginning and end, the way stories do. There’s a dramatic moment, and a resolution. And while you may think we can read less into the plot than into Hemingway’s, Sacks spends 2 lectures (plus book appendices) on this story and how we understand it the way we do.

Ok, let’s accept it’s a story. Secondly, we infer that the baby and mommy may be related: it’s the baby’s mommy. “Characters appear on cue” in stories, he says; the Mommy is not a surprise in the normal setting conjured in our head; it doesn’t feel deus ex machina, like cheating.

Notice the story didn’t say “his mommy” or “her mommy” or “the baby’s mommy.” Juxtaposition of category terms often used in family contexts helps us infer this, Sacks argues. It’s clearly possible the baby was abandoned outside a supermarket and someone else’s mother picked it up to comfort it, as I hope one would! It’s not the simplest reading, though. Notice that we also assume they are humans, not apes or cats. Our human context draws that story, an Occam’s Razor kind of principle to reading.

Thirdly, Sacks notes we read the story as having cause and effect. Again, this is related to the juxtaposition and assumptions of normal family roles. That’s partly the expected story spine at work, too: conflict, resolution! Cause, effect, NOT just correlation.

Fourthly: the action in this story is believable, interpretable, unlike “colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” (That’s an old linguistics chestnut.) Babies cry; babies who cry should probably be picked up. Sacks notes that a mother can say plausibly, “You may be 40 years old but you’re still my baby.” In that case we don’t expect the crying 40-year old to be picked up, even if he’s “acting like a baby.” We fill in the blanks in this story in the most consistent way possible for the details we’ve been given, which means a lot of assumptions based on what we know and expect about social and human behavior.


A thing I didn’t tell you right away is that this story is a story by a 2 year old, that Sacks got from a book called Children Tell Stories. Sacks spends a certain amount of words on why this is a story because it comes from a child: the drama is a child’s, the resolution is a child’s happy ending. Sacks suggests that children, as speakers, might start a story with a dramatic moment, as a method of getting the floor. He says the dramatic problem here is a valid child’s talk opener, like “Hey, did you notice your computer is smoking?” would be for a stranger addressing you in a coffee shop while you’re getting a napkin. The ending is a valid ending, because for a child being picked up is a resolution. For this story to have a tidy ending, we infer that being picked up results in a non-crying child, or at least a happy child. But the actual non-crying denouement is implied here because of Mommy doing something expected.

The child’s story is arguably less sophisticated than Hemingway’s story, but notice that it’s more of a classic, plotted story in that 2 events occur, the crisis and the resolution. I hope I’ve convinced you that’s it’s still quite sophisticated in terms of the amount we bring to it when we read it, and how it successfully carries us along despite being terse. Hemingway’s is a suggestion of events behind a public for-sale ad, and all the action and characters and emotion occur in your head.

Story, Discourse, Visuals

What does this have to do with data visualization? Emma Coats wasn’t quite sure how to relate her story telling principles to vis design, but left it to us as adult vis creators to make that connection. I’m going to spell out some of what I take from the Pixar and Sacks points, as well as a little more storytelling thinking.

First one useful distinction in terms from Dino Felluga’s General Introduction to Narratology:

“Story” refers to the actual chronology of events in a narrative; discourse refers to the manipulation of that story in the presentation of the narrative. […] Story refers, in most cases, only to what has to be reconstructed from a narrative; the chronological sequence of events as they actually occurred in the time-space … universe of the narrative being read.

(This isn’t necessarily the way a linguist would define discourse, but it’ll do for now.) Discourse encompasses all the similes, metaphors, style devices used to convey the story, and in a film, all the cutting, blocking, music, etc. The story is what is conveyed through these devices when the discourse has succeeded. (So, for Felluga, telling “non-linear” stories is an attribute of the discourse, not the story itself.)

Hemingway’s short story’s discourse structure is very different from a two-year old’s discourse structure. The artistry lies in the discourse choices as well as in the stories they picked to tell.

Felluga illustrates how stories can be told in a visual discourse form with a Dürer woodcut:

(Woodcut to Wie der Würffel auff ist Kumen (Nuremberg: Max Ayrer, 1489). Reprinted in and courtesy of The Complete Woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer, ed. Willi Kurth (New York: Dover, 1963)

The story goes something like this: 1) The first “frame” of the sequence is the right-hand half of the image, in which a travelling knight is stopped by the devil, who holds up a die to tempt the knight to gamble; 2) the second “frame” is the bottom-left-hand corner of the image, where a quarrel breaks out at the gambling table; 3) the third “frame” is the top-left-hand corner of the image, where the knight is punished by death on the wheel. By having the entire sequence in a single two-dimensional space, the image comments on the fact that narrative, unlike life, is never a gamble but always stacks the deck towards some fulfilling structural closure. (A similar statement is made in the Star Trek episode I analyze under Lesson Plans.) [Note from Lynn: Love this guy.]

George Kampis took out these lessons from this example, for his own introductory course:

  • Narratives can be visual
  • Time is Space here
  • Actions and events are consequences (causation), not just occurring in a sequence.
  • Narrative is therefore offering “explanation” — why did things happen?
  • But order has been imposed.

I would not argue that the woodcut is easy to read, at least for most of us. Reading this story requires background in themes and socio-cultural contexts that a lot of modern viewers don’t have anymore. It’s not as simple as “the baby cried” or even the Hemingway “for-sale” discourse format.

Causation in Vis

We look for cause and effect in sequences of events, which is why I suspect there’s so much confusion over correlation and causation in data reporting. Charlotte Linde, in Life Stories, talks about this as “narrative presupposition.” She offers us the following two examples, which we read differently:

1. I got flustered and I backed the car into a tree. 2. I backed the car into a tree and I got flustered.

Linde toys with the idea that this is related to cognition, but falls back to suggesting it’s a fact about English (and possibly related languages’) story telling discourse and morphology. Regardless, it is a “bias” of interpretation we bring to bear on how we interpret sparse details juxtaposed. If a data reporter chooses details that juxtapose the rise of one thing with the rise (or fall) of another, the average reader will assume causation is implied by the reporter.What’s an example of a simple causation story in data vis? A timeseries of measures might be a good example. But without added context, it’s often just “X, then Y”. Filling in some explanatory context on timelines has become standard, at least in journalism. The labels here help us contextualize the data, and arguably to infer some causation:

(Image by Ritchie King in a Quartz article.)

Here the designer has imposed order by suggesting causation or at least relevant correlations behind the measures shown over time and the labeling of events. Some of the labels may be just “informational,” like the recent presidencies. For readers who know about the Clinton era economy vs. Reagan and Bush economies, the annotations carry more meaning. Regardless, by choosing to annotate in this way, the reporter suggests relationships in the minds of the reader, very deliberately. Less clearly related events also happened on those labelled time periods — births, deaths, scientific discoveries — and yet their relevance wouldn’t be so “obvious” and so easy to glance over as reasonable. Economy and war go together like babies and mommies.

Because readers assume the author has juxtaposed items on purpose, suggesting odd relationships in your discourse automatically evokes weird stories in your reader’s heads. These might be entertaining from an artistic perspective, of course…

(A super example from this paper on fallacy summarized on Steve’s Politics Blog.

It’s a little unlikely that lemon imports over time have a direct causal relation to accident rate, although we immediately want to figure out how they could!

Artistic &/or Journalistic

Is journalism better served by 2-year old storytelling with simple discourse forms (“X, then Y”)? Maybe, for some purposes. Even so, there are a lot of unwritten implications behind every chart, from what’s reported to how it’s reported. It’s easy to classify some work as simple propoganda — see Media Matters History of Dishonest Fox Charts for a lot of examples of apparent intentional misleading by implication.

Periscopic’s Stolen Lives gun deaths visualization was criticized by some for being un-journalistic, and yet, it makes its implications quite explicit and well-marked in the discourse (gray lines). The visualization walks the viewer through the interpretation with a slow intro, to show exactly where the artistic license begins to deviate from the data source.

(Visual from Periscopic’s work.)

This work may be be more like Hemingway’s for-sale story than a 2-year old’s story, although in fact it leaves less to the imagination while it veers further from traditional journalism as it does so. Yet this is still data visualization taking an artistic narrative risk, for the sake of activism.

Wrapping Up (So I Can Watch TV)

Even very simple stories, whatever the discourse form, rely on the reader filling in a lot of invisible holes. Some of the interpretation we do is so “obvious” that only sociologists or cognitive scientists can make explicit the jumps we don’t notice we’re wired to make. Choice of structure, of juxtaposition, of annotation, of what’s implied versus made explicit: these are discourse maneuvers that can clarify, mislead, open up possibilities, or even evoke emotion in surprising ways.

A willingness to borrow insights from other disciplines’ thinking about these subjects was one of the reasons I liked Tapestry’s programming. Emma Coats made me get out some old books, and writing this up helped tune my thinking a little bit. Good conference, and hopefully a thought-provoking post for a few readers.

Incidentally, some recent related articles: Periscopic’s A Framework for Talking About Data Narration and Jen Christiansen’s article “Don’t Just Visualize Data — Visceralize It.” [ETA: Also, a followup to this post by Robert Kosara at eagereyes.]