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Visualising Stereotypes

http://arts2090visualisation.tumblr.com/We used a tumblr blog for our visualisation presentation


Facebook page, shirt, engineering joke
As arts students, you’ve probably all been accused at some time or the other of doing a gambler’s degree or told you’re not going to get a real job.
We all know that stereotype.
And you probably tease your friends in other faculties too, telling engineers that they drink too much or rubbing it in the architect’s faces that at least we have a social life.

Picture of Tharunka’s cover
If anyone noticed the cover of Tharunka last week, they did a visualisation of how people who live in different areas of Sydney view each other (and themselves).
We were inspired by this, because it’s something so rarely explored visually

Picture of ASB
So, going off that idea of stereotypes, we decided to do something similar for the various faculties of UNSW.
We created a survey using survey monkey, which asked for the respondent’s faculty and then asked them to describe, in 3 words or less, the students from each of UNSWs faculties including their own.

Picture of UNSW
We thought it was important to limit it only to UNSW for a few reasons. In terms of data, evidently it’s something we’re already familiar with, and this kept it uncomplicated – if we were to do it across multiple universities we’d have issues with different universities having different subjects in different faculties.

Picture of link
More importantly though, we thought this was something that was really pertinent to us as UNSW students. It’s such a niche demographic so it’s never been done before, which means that we really are ‘making the invisible visible’, so to speak.

Picture of facebook page
We created a facebook page linking to the survey, and linked it on the walls of each of the faculties; as far as collecting data goes, there will be a bias towards the computer-savvy and specifically facebook using students.
But we figured that, based on the data about our university, that’s most of the cohort, and that unless we actually had some sort of census there wasn’t really a way to get a completely unbiased, entirely inclusive set of results.
But we felt that fundamentally what we were aiming for was a general idea of the opinions held, and that this method of data collection wouldn’t compromise that.

[Explanation and analysis of the visualisation, improv’d]
So what we’ve done is assigned a different colour to each faculty, and we’ve used that same colour to denote their opinions of other faculties.
The bigger words are the ones that were used more often, and as you can see, some of them are repeated to represent that it’s a view shared by a number of faculties.
We didn’t include ADFA in the faculties because it’s cross disciplinary so we felt that it didn’t really fit with what we were trying to gauge
We thought this was a really great way to visualise our data because it is something that is addressed in essays and cartoons and jokes, but they really aren’t comparative and they usually only focus on one view.
Our visualisation is a very text based one admittedly, but we thought this suited what we were trying to draw attention to – it’s very simple but it doesn’t require a lot of interpretation, as opposed to, for example, if we drew the stereotypes, which would have been really subjective.
What we’ve done lets you see, in a nicely cohesive fashion, what the stereotypes held by each faculty for other faculties are.

So to conclude, we thought we’d explore the issue of the power held by such a visualisation by seeing how people reacted to it.
Interestingly, it seemed to be really confronting – some people would laugh at some of the stereotypes, and would seem pretty happy about being described as ‘attractive’ or ‘intelligent’.
But they would also get affronted by others – it was like being accused of something, and in reaction they really tried to avoid acting out these stereotypes.
Maybe this is because this is on such a small level, and that’s why people take it seriously, but it definitely demonstrated to us the power of putting this in a visual form – after all if it was an essay it’d be unlikely that many people would want to look at it, and they’d probably lose their strong reactions amidst the tedium of the text.


About spud1991

Writer, adventurer, music aficionado, lexophile. I use the word 'lol' in regular conversation and appreciate the irony of it.


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