Information Visualization in Grad School, Part 2


Last week I talked about my experience as I begin graduate school at the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University in January 2016. I gave a little bit of background on why I chose data science to pursue and a few details about my first information visualization class taught by Dr. Katy Börner. This week I want to delve into my experience during the second part of my course – the client project.

My group’s final project includes sentiment analysis for the movie Ambition. Ambition is a seven minute film about Rosetta, the European Space Agency’s real mission to meet with, escort and land on a comet. The mission was accomplished and the film debuted in 2014. Wikipedia provides a great definition of sentiment analysis as using natural language processing, text analysis and computational linguistics to extract subjective information. It is widely applied to understand customer opinions across multiple fields. Getting the opinion of others is not a new topic, but how we approach the topic using data science tools is relatively new.

There are five of us in the group with varying skills and all but one student is a remote student taking the course online.  So far being located all over the continental U.S. has not negatively impacted our ability to collaborate and work well together. We began the project March 21 and will present final results the first week of May. To date we have completed a literature review and have begun to compile and analyze comments from the movie. Our next steps will be to finalize which types of visualizations to use and then begin work on them. We then hope to use the visualization(s) to tell a complete story.

In a Data Informed article entitled “How to Present Data to People Who Are Scared of Numbers”, Bernard Marr discusses five ways to improve data visualizations. He suggested using benchmarks like change so the audience can see the difference over time, using color effectively, using pictures or metaphors, using animation if appropriate and using word clouds to explain the meaning of numbers. In our group project, we hope to apply these principles along with the theory we’ve learned in the first part of the semester to make a great product for the client. I’m excited that the project addresses a real-world client need. Stay tuned for the final results of our project….


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