Visualising Textual Data : What do you think?
As artists in residence on the Ensemble Project, we – Harriet and Rob Fraser – spent a couple of years developing the Sense of Here project, which enters into the complexity of land use, ecologies, and environmental change, and brings together a number of perspectives. Our methodology included carrying out more than 50 interviews, making a series of long walks, and placing artworks across Cumbria. You can tap into an overview of the project in a former blog here.
We came to the Ensemble project with a deep-seated interest in how to gather and represent intangible data, particularly information about people’s sense of connection to their local green spaces, to the Lake District National Park, and to the natural world in general. We wanted to gather sentiments and shed light on the value systems that underpin actions taken by individuals and by organisations. Usually we use text, poetry, photography and video to do this, but we wanted to try something different.
We’d like now to ask you for your reaction to one of the outcomes of the project – a visualisation of sentiment.
Our Data of the Heart Survey used an interactive mapping platform received over 230 responses. It revealed strong feelings and drew in some very thoughtful responses, some written at length. The map allows users to click on any entry and read some of the survey answers. In addition to offering access to individual answers, we wanted to find a way to illustrate trends: what matters most to people? We also wanted to look at the way data about emotions, behaviours, and values could sit alongside, or be integrated with, quantitative data, in a meaningful way. This is no small challenge.
We worked alongside Vatsala Nundloll who brought her expertise and perspective as a data analyst to the table. Most data visualisation begins with numeric values, but, building on previous work using textual analysis, Vatsala used Python, Jupyter and scattertext programmes to enable visual representation of the responses.
We created a number of graphs, each in response to a different question. We would like to share three here and invite you to delve in. Please send us your feedback as this will help us refine the paper we’re currently working on. Thank you!
- Click on the image below and it will open up in a new tab.
- Click on any word or coloured dot on the graph and a selection of responses containing a chosen word will appear below the graph.
- You can also type a word of your choice into the box ‘search the chart’ to discover survey answers that include this word.
Please let us know:
- How easy do you find the interface?
- How informative is it?
- What is missing?
The first image represents answers to the question: “Thinking about national parks or the countryside in general, what do you fear future generations might not witness or experience?”
The second file shows answers to the question: ‘What are your hopes for the future of the environment?’
The third interactive image shows answers to the question: ‘Can you describe how being in the Lake District landscape, whether high in the hills, or in the valleys or by the lakes, makes you feel?’
Our work with Vatsala, and then with Stephen Mander, extended to develop software allowing a computer to programme poetry. That’s for another blog … but for now we’d love to hear back from you.
Please email Harriet and Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts. Thank you!