Direct visualization

I enjoyed Manovich’s essay on visualization. I had previously thought of information visualization/infovis in the way that computer scientists tend to define it, as interactive visual interfaces on the computer. It was interesting to consider a traffic light as an example of infovis (and one that privileges the dimension of color). I was also interested in the concept of visualization without reduction, or direct visualization. I love the idea of the tag cloud that came out of Flickr circa 2005 being a sort of ideal type of visualization in which every part of the data (the text being searched) is fully shown, with the size of a word in relationship to its usage frequency. I also watched some of Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen's Listening Post and was so fascinated ( The visualization/voiceover is fragmented, but it is direct, and in addition to being an innovative example of real-time infovis, it captures the essence of that golden early-2000s era of AIM messaging (“I’m 18M,” “I am still used to Windows,” “I am stuck in Oklahoma”) and the weird prophetic nature of half-formed messages (“I am not really”). A favorite infovis of mine is Festify, which takes your Spotify listening data and formats your most-listened-to artists (in the past month, in the past six months, or of all time) into a festival lineup. Although it's a reductive visualization, at least in my case it makes for a kind of fun subversion of music-industry hierarchies as DIY emo bands appear next to Taylor Swift and Coldplay: