Visualisation

Information governs the new economy. It keeps us socially connected with our peers, influencing how we interact with our everyday life and the information culture we share with others, allowing us to be mentally and socially active constructive to our personal identity. But how does the way we perceive information govern our identity?

In particular, my group and I decided to measure the amount of gold medals Australian athletes had received relative to the amount of athletes that participated under the Australian flag in the Olympic game, the overall rank of Australia on the medal tally, and the percentage of gold medals received by Australia relative to the total medals received by Australia.

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Thus we made a trend of increasing gold medals Australia has received visible. Furthermore, we aimed at demonstrating the positive influence of the AIS from 1984 onwards and its impact on Australian performance at the Olympic games since 1984.

The inspiration for this visualization came from the perception that Australia had performed significantly bad at the London Olympics in 2012. The visualization thus aims at also making visible that at the London Olympics Australia did not perform as badly as the Australian public had thought. Thus the visualization is directed towards the general Australian public, primarily because to some degree interest is shown on Australia’s performance in the Olympics.

The general perception on the trend is that Australia did poor to average in the London Olympics 2012. This was revealed to us through a number of sports articles during the London Olympics as well as a survey we had created and distributed amongst the public and our friends on Facebook. Some headlines include: “have we failed our athletes or have they failed us”, “Australian athletes have not been up to it”, “Australia left wishing its Olympic athletes cried tears of gold”, “the verdict: its been a right bang-up job”, and “Australia’s lost Olympic edge”.

Forming the visualization, we aimed at making a positive perception of a real life event, well known around the world. To do this data was portrayed in an authoritative way, where the graph represents an upward motion. Thus when viewed properly the visualization highlights the AIS has potentially had a negative impact on the Australian participation in the Olympic Games, this was highlight as out of 100 athletes the number of gold medals decreased from 4-2. This goes against what has been made visible in the visualization.

Thus the visualization makes something else slightly visible, that is; how authoritative data can manipulate the truth, ones perception and enforce conformity to a general idea.

Alphabet

When Amenhotep attempted to communicate the concept of monotheism using pictographs, he failed because the pictograph had already taken up a meaning. Metaphorical and ideological concepts have immense difficulty forming through the use of pictographic alphabets.

“The failure of such an idea to take hold after such a poltically potent send-off-coupled with the success of more or less the same idea in the hands of the politically powerless Hebrews a few years later, serves as one of the most important demonstrations in all history of media to make or break the ideas they carry,”(Levinson 1997, p. 12)

The creation of the abstract alphabet allowed languages and cultures to spawn the world and advance viewpoints, perspectives and ideas, which transcend the dimensions of communal space while ‘representing the unrepresentable,’ (Levinson 1997, p. 17) . Eisenstein (1979, p. 71-112) focus on the spread of the printing press and its significant influence through the distribution of literature in developing what Anderson describes as ‘imagined communities’. Effectively this implanted the aspects of standardization including the abstraction of Greek literature, which gave prominence to logic and philosophical thought.

Space is a dimension, which the alphabet as a tool of publication can travel. However, the ways in which products are published can determine their impact and their authoritative presence on others.  The changes in publishing power through printing allowed Greek philosophers to take advantage of the alphabetic system and shift a change in publishing power and its social impacts and eventually ‘created a public,'(McLuhan, p. 9). The change in publishing power can influence not only the social impacts on a civilisation, their lives and ideologies but can also influence the very language they speak and the meanings a phonetic work may give.

Semantic change is the evolution of a word to the point where a word has become radically different from the original usage of the word. Linguistic, psychological, and socio-cultural forces can influence a words evolution and the way people utilise the word. Semantic change would not occur in ancient pictographic alphabets as these alphabets are based of physical representation. The basis of many alphabets today and their focus on phonetics has allowed the reinvention of words without a new word being formed. Furthermore, the social impacts of powerful publication through abstraction can enforce the echoing of thought, literature and the very words future generations will come to use.

Greek philosophers had an echoing presence, previously unheard in human history as their philosophical teachings are still followed, taught and analysed by people of the modern era. Writing utilises this abstraction, thus it primarily tries to move and conserve images and ideas allowing us to express and publish through the dimensions of space.

Writing has effectively caused conflicts between methods of printing the presence of time and space. When a piece of artwork or writing has been carved into a cave wall or a stone the amount of time the publication lasts may be enormous. However, in my opinion the disadvantage towards the accessibility of the publication influences it echoing presence and its social impacts among others.

Letters, newspapers and so forth acting nothing less than smoke signals, they are simply read or breathed in and then dispersed among the atmosphere thus most likely to never be read again. Although this form of media is taken in and often dispersed they can also mediate an echoing presence and contain social impacts on a society. Simply the reporting of news, events, debates, elections and everything else can influence how people perceive ideologies, concepts and events as ‘more than any other single invention, writing has transformed human consciousness,'(Finklestein and McCleary 2002, p. 105)

The invention of the Internet has now let us form an everlasting expression of our opinions, thoughts and feelings where we continue to access all types of information.  The Facebook timeline is an example of this. It successfully allows us to view information, which has been released possibly decades before in a timeline layout although the timeline is a recent invention launched in September 2011. Although this has been instituted in our daily living the timeline is a unique design and one which frees the time constraint on our information, what we say, and things we do possibly making them timelessness, lasting forever. Last year was a year characterised massive activist campaign, which sparked from a Youtube known as Kony, the viral activity of the Internet and its vast social impacts are immeasurable. This is a practical example of the thoughts of Gregory Ulmer (1989) and the concept of ‘electracy’ where messages can be manipulated and develop the immediacy and specificity of orality. Interest will only occur in how the development of the media will contribute society and civilisation in its advancement and construction.

References

Anderson, Benedict (1991) Imagined Communities London, Verso

Eisenstein, Elizabeth (1979) The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communication and Cultural Transformation in Early-Modern Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Finkelstein, David and McCleery, Alistair (2002) The Book History Reader London and New York. Routledge

Levinson, Paul (1997) the soft edge: a natural history and future of the information revolution London: Routledge

McLuhan, Marshall (1962) The Gutenberg Galaxy: the making of typographic Man Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Ulmer, Gregory (1989) Teletheory: Grammatology in the Age of Video New York: Routledge