One of the most interesting aspects of the History Moves interviews and transcripts was hearing a person’s full story of a portion of life, and viewing these women not as distant subjects of adversity but as people with backgrounds, interests, quirks, and fascinations.
I was also taken in with the idea of these interviews as individual stories that were also part of a larger collective experience, shared by other women from similar areas. I wanted to create a visualization that would emphasize these two aspects, the collective experience, and the nuances of person-hood, and I wished to do so without drowning out the individual stories of the women.
Matt’s “Tell Me A Story” prototype was inspiring in the way it divides interviews by topics of conversation that can be traced to and from one another. Clicking on “Pop Culture,” for example, reveals a person’s particular reference to James Brown during a particular time and at a particular place. This kind of detail really allows a viewer or listener to feel attached to a person and to her story.
I felt that the emphasis on time was key, and also looked to the other sample visualization in which a woman’s interview is broken down chronologically (early life, diagnosis, crisis, surviving) along a timeline.
My prototype visualization seeks to combine these visual aspects (chronology and distribution through space) with the world opening, person-expanding aspects of “Tell Me A Story.”
I thought I might accomplish this with the use of a timeline software such as Neatline. I would read through the interviews and arrange parts of each interviewee’s story chronologically. In a way that is similar to “Tell Me A Story,” I would seek to highlight particular preferences, frustrations, quirks, of an interviewee, to provide a picture of a person beyond the specific experiences with trauma and adversity, though these would be featured as well.
My proposal is to begin by doing something similar to what Matthew has done, and separating interview transcripts chronologically. I would not necessarily focus exclusively on thematic material but also on the small observations and simple pleasures of the women. I would extract these portions of the interview transcripts and attach them to clickable nodes.
These nodes would be attached to a timeline component that runs along the bottom of the screen, and also to a geospatial component, which is most prominently featured and takes up most of the screen’s visual space. Locations on the map would come from specific references to blocks, churches, stores, and other points of interest.
The goal is to emphasize the feeling of time and place, and most importantly, to bring an extra volume of humanity to these interview subjects, to view these women as not just courageous survivors but also as full humans with pleasures, likes, dislikes, annoyances – as people who have experienced great hardship, and also a diverse set of experiences.
Someone who interacts with the visualization will be able to see how the lives of these women are spread throughout time and/or throughout space, how they have left an impact on and were impacted by a geographic area, and how they have left their impact on history.
It is my hope that a visualization, implementing the text as well, would enhance the feelings of dynamic individuals. Neatline allows all sorts of components to be added to a visualization. Each spot or node on the timeline or map would reveal images and text, and have the option for the recorded interview sound to play audibly, providing a fuller, more three dimensional experience that examines the experience of each women, and relates the women together in time and space.
On thinking about this proposal, I hope that I am not distorting the individual identities into a sort of art experience, and indeed using the word “collective,” gives me some pause. Names and specific identifiers will be included on the map and timeline, and you would be able to sort by name, time, and place.
Another concern brought up in class was that one has to be very careful placing points on a map to avoid giving a distorted impression of location or raising false knowledge to a perceived level of fact; I am not sure how to get around this except to ensure that places marked on a map are emphasized as general areas rather than specific locations. Another option, that involves asking the women to participate in the creation of the visualization, is to have them identify places on the map themselves.